One of the things I hear all the time from my students is that they're always looking for a faster way to improve their voice?
I hate to break it to you, but learning to sing does take its sweet time.
But whether you’re a total beginner and feeling a little impatient or a frustrated long-term singer whose still not seeing the progress they hoped for, there may be a quick way for you to solve this problem.
Hi, I'm Rebecca! And I truly love everything about the art, science, and teaching of singing. If you're looking to build an effective and healthier singing technique so that you can sing with more ease and confidence, then you're in the right place! Here's a few other blog posts you might also like to read:
And of course, grab a copy of my ultimate vocal health starter guide where I'll share how to create a vocal health routine and reset your voice in 14-days!
Here’s a little secret that just may come as a surprise to you…
Reading about singing will help you improve your singing voice faster.
Yep! You read that right! I’m not totally crazy!
The more you know about how your brain, body and voice work together the quicker you’ll grasp the concepts of vocal technique and start progressing faster.
So, go and grab a cup of tea and let’s talk about how these are books guaranteed to you help you develop your knowledge and awareness, and ultimately help you improve your singing voice much faster.
So, go and grab a cup of tea and let’s talk about how these books are guaranteed to you help you develop your knowledge and awareness, and ultimately give you the tools to improve your singing voice much faster.
A SINGER’S GUIDE TO THE LARYNX
Nicola Harrison and Alan Watson
One of the biggest problems I remember having as a student was fully understanding what the heck the teacher was talking about.
I had a vague idea what the larynx looked like but struggled to imagine how it worked or what was connected to what.
A Singer’s Guide to the Larynx is a vocal anatomy book written with the singer and singing teacher in mind.
Singing teacher Nicola Harrison has teamed up with anatomist and neuroscientist Alan Watson to bring the science of vocal anatomy to singers in a book unlike any other.
Each layer of the larynx is broken down into manageable bite-sized sections (muscles, joints, and cartilages) that are then pulled together at the end. It has skilfully been designed to give the singer (and the singing teacher) an all-round understanding.
What I like about this book is the clear and concise method of delivering a complex topic. I also really like that the book has colourful illustrations, which help you to visualise the larynx or a particular component of the larynx when tackling a technical problem.
What I didn’t like about the book was the overall print quality. Retailing on Amazon for £21.54, I had expected better print quality. In my opinion, this lets the book down because it is such a valuable resource of both singers and singing teachers that may easily be overlooked.
However, I would still recommend this book to anyone who wants or needs to understand vocal anatomy.
It’s one of the simplest yet most informative vocal anatomy books that I’ve come across. The simplicity of the book has been really well thought out so as not to be too overwhelming.
I tend to find that some of the older pedagogical books quickly become jam-packed with medical jargon and long-winded written explanations that it takes hours to decipher (if you don’t give up before then!).
If you’re either struggling to understand how their voice works or to grasp what your voice teacher is trying to get you to do, this is the first step to understanding your voice and progressing your vocal technique faster.
This book is essential for any singer to have on their bookshelf for reference whenever you need it.
If you’re interested in more books about vocal pedagogy and voice science, you can check out my bookshelf.
SINGING AND TEACHING SINGING:
A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO CLASSICAL VOICE (3rdEdition)
Janice L. Chapman
What I find most common with students, especially adult singers, is the need to understand why they are doing something.
Once explained they find it much easier to grasp the concept and move forward.
If like my adult students you’re struggling to understand what and why your singing teacher is doing something then Singing and Teaching Singing: A Holistic Approach to Classical Voice will have the answers for you.
Janice Chapman is one of the world’s leading (modern) vocal pedagogues (that’s people that study the art, science and teaching of singing) and regularly conducts workshops and courses all over the UK and Europe. You can find out more about what she has to offer here.
There are so many books out there on singing but what makes this one great is that it walks you through each step of the process.
The voice has a natural order of development, kind of like building a house, which is clearly set out in this book. From posture, breathing, phonation, resonance, articulation, right through to performance.
I absolutely love this book not only because it has the answers for myself and my students, but also because the modern language makes it clear, concise, and enjoyable to read. Unlike some of those older pedagogical texts.
Plus, I love Janice Chapman’s philosophy that singing is a whole body experience. This is often mentioned in other vocal pedagogical books but not explored in any detail.
With this book you also get access to the companion website which has supplementary videos to enhance your learning.
What disappointed me most was the title. The title ‘A holistic approach to classical voice’ implies that this is a singing method specifically for classical singers.
In my opinion, it’s not. I use the same step by step process whether I’m teaching opera or pop singers because our lungs and larynxes work in the same way. The ultimate goal for any student is to sing with total freedom and this book can help you achieve this.
So, whether you’re a classical singer or not, I would still recommend that this book is worth investing your time and money in. It’s a great companion to support you through your singing lessons and to help you troubleshoot any technical problems as they arise.
For singing teachers, this book contains the answers to so many student problems and has some brilliant practical advice. But don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself, but I can guarantee that you’ll come back to this book again and again.
If you’re interested in more books about vocal pedagogy and voice science, you can check out my bookshelf.
THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE FOR MUSICIANS
Judith Kleinman & Peter Buckoke
You’re probably wondering why a book on the Alexander Technique has made it on a list of the books singers should read?
Well, I’m a big advocate, like many other singing teachers, of the Alexander Technique and how it’s practice can be used to help singers improve their vocal technique and/or performance.
The Alexander Technique for Musicians is a great introduction to the principles of the Alexander Technique and a great supplement to support you through your one-to-one or group lessons.
Both Judith Kleinman and Peter Buckoke are musicians and qualified Alexander Technique teachers and have worked closely with music students at the Royal College of Music for over 20 years.
I like this book not only because it is dedicated specifically to musicians but that it gives a general overview of the practice of Alexander Technique, which you can apply and incorporate at home in your own practice. It also provides a deeper understanding of the connectivity of more complex postural problems.
For example, I recently had several students who had big issues with jaw tension. This is a common problem amongst singers. I’d tried a couple of different things that usually work but nothing seemed to be working.
So, I sat down to do some research, to try and figure out how I can solve this for my students.
As always, I went back to the beginning of the process; posture. I pulled this book from the bookshelf and whilst skimming through found a small chapter entitled ‘free the jaw’ and there was the answer…the atlanto-occipital joint! It solved the problem instantly.
This book reminded me that sometimes a problem isn’t vocal and that singers need to consider the whole body when tackling problems like jaw tension.
What I wish the book had more of is instruction. Whilst I had found the answer to my jaw tension query, there was nothing to help me guide students in correcting it. I had to go elsewhere for this information.
This is probably because you should really receive guidance from a qualified Alexander Technique teacher but… I’m glad it led me to the answer. If you’re struggling with postural issues, these may be affecting your voice and vice versa.
However, I would still recommend this book to singers that are struggling with posture and balance issues so that they can develop an awareness of the connection between body and voice.
You can find out more about the Alexander Technique and singing in my blog post: The Singer's Best Friend: How the Alexander Technique can Improve your Singing or if you’re interested in more books about the Alexander Technique, you can check out my bookshelf.
COMPLETE VOCAL FITNESS: A SINGER'S GUIDE TO PHYSICAL TRAINING, ANATOMY, AND BIOMECHANICS
If you’ve read a vocal pedagogical book or two you’ve probably seen how every author compares the singer to an Olympic athlete.
But have you ever noticed that they don’t expand much beyond this? What does this mean?
Well, Complete Vocal Fitness finally has the answers.
Claudia Friedlander is a singing teacher and fitness trainer from New York City who for the last 20 years has been combining the singing with sports medicine.
This may surprise you but the two are very closely related. It is only in the last few years in the UK that musician’s health has become much more important. So, this book is well overdue.
The aim of this book is to help you draw the parallels between physical fitness and vocal fitness.
I liked that the author emphasises how physically demanding singing is and provides recommendations on what you need to do to become a physically fit singer.
It nicely weaves physical training, anatomy and, most importantly, it’s connection to the voice and performing. It gives a good indication of what is expected to be physically fit when performing.
The illustrations and photographs make a useful guide to show correct movements and common mistakes so the reader gets the maximum from the book.
What I know a lot of readers won’t like about this book is the academic style of writing, which can be hard to take in but the book is well designed so you can dip in and out of the exercises and find what suits you in that moment.
I recommend this book to all singers interested in improving their stamina and especially to students preparing for exams, audition, or demanding performances.
I also suggest this book to female singers going through the Menopause to help them get some guidance on how to develop an exercise regime that will help them maintain respiratory function and core strength.
If you’re interested in more books about physical fitness, you can check out more books like this here.
50 WAYS TO ABUSE YOUR VOICE: A SINGER'S GUIDE TO A SHORT CAREER Robert Sataloff, Mary Hawkshaw, Jaime Eaglin Moore, & Amy Rutt
I bet your bookshelf is filled with numerous books on how to keep your voice healthy?
I would argue that this is the most popular topic for students of singing. But what if I told you that it was more beneficial to know what NOT to do than what to do. Would you believe me?
Inspired by Dr Sataloff’s mid-1980s NATS articles, 50 Ways to Abuse your Voice is brought to you by a whole team of (overly) accomplished otolaryngologists (FYI that’s a doctor who specialises in ears, nose, and throat).
So, you know the advice in this book is sound because it’s based on medical fact and not someone’s opinion and Pinterest inspired home remedies.
But 50 Ways to Abuse your Voice is a little different from all those other vocal health books because it tells you all the ways you might be abusing and/or misusing your voice in your daily life, and not know about it.
What I liked most about this book was that it provided practical advice on how to avoid and resolve even the most obscure issues. The information is straight to the point, and easily digestible without being patronising.
It’s another great book to have on your bookshelf as you can easily dip into when you come across something new.
This book is a real eye-opener and appropriate for singers of all genres and all levels of experience. If you only read one book from this list – it should be this one! It may just save your voice.
If you’re interested in more books about vocal health, you can check out more books like this here.
THE TALENT CODE
A common misconception about singing is either you can do it or you can’t. That singing’s a talent. Some genetic predisposition.
This is false!
Singing is a totally learnable skill…. even if you’re tone deaf!
Daniel Coyle is exceptionally skilled at explaining how ‘greatness isn’t born, it’s grown’.
His book, The Talent Code takes you on a journey through the worlds of football, tennis, chess, and music to demonstrate what it takes to really master a skill.
What I like most about this book was how the author uses research, case studies, and anecdotes to present a strong case for effective practice (or deep practice as he calls it) without it coming across as some sort of self-help book.
He explains that ‘talent’ is developed not from the quantity of hours you put in but from the quality of your practice.
He also unpicks each skill to show what that quality practice looks like. You’ll get a really good understanding of what you need to do in your practice and how this can help you improve your singing.
After reading this book, my entire approach to practice and how I teach practise to students changed. I wish I had read this earlier in my training. It would have helped me develop an effective practice strategy and progress quicker!
I typically suggest this book to students that are either struggling to progress and losing motivation or to help a student gain a deeper understanding of how to practice effectively works.
This book is also great for non-musical parents who seem reluctant to participate in practice. It demonstrates that no musical understanding is required it’s all about the way you approach practise.
But if you’re just starting to learn to sing or thinking about learning to sing, then read this book before anything else. It will really give you a real sense of what you can achieve.
If you’re interested in more books about habits and practice, you can check out more books like this here.
BRINGING YOUR BOLDEST SELF TO YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES
Have you ever sat and wondered how much posture impacts your life?
Just me? Does that make me a geek? Wait! Don’t answer that.
Presence was recommended to me by my Alexander Technique teacher because of the connection between how we sit or stand and how this reflects on our emotional state.
Harvard Business School professor, Amy Cuddy, is famously known for her 2012 TedTalk where she opened-up about her own struggles with self-confidence after a life-changing injury caused by a car accident.
Whilst in her day job she teaches the next generation of business elite to negotiate tough business deals by making them think about how they present themselves, this book also talks to the average joe about the changes you can make and how posture can change your mindset.
The author visually illustrates the differences between powerful poses and powerless poses. I even found myself trying them out when I was in the queue at the supermarket to see if it really worked…and I have to say that I definitely noticed a difference!
I enjoyed this book partly because it expanded from her TedTalk and partly because there were things she raises that resonate with me and some of my students.
I first read this book back in 2017 and don’t remember anything I particularly disliked about it other than sometimes she took a long time to reach the main point of the chapter…however, you may argue that it was worth the wait.
I often recommend Presence to students who are suffering from issues with self-confidence or performance anxiety. Through her research, Amy Cuddy demonstrates that how we stand not only projects an image to our audience but also impacts how we feel about ourselves.
Don’t take my word for the effectiveness of the exercises and the change of mindset, you’ll benefit more by trying out the exercises and poses for yourself.
I often wonder how many of my students have secretly snuck to the loo and done the wonder woman pose before a performance – you’ll get it if you’ve read the book!
If you’re interested in more books like this, you’ll find them on my bookshelf.
The secret’s out! These are my top 7 books every singer should read.
Part of learning to sing is reading widely, hence what may seem like a random selection of books, but my suggestions have been chosen to cover a wide variety of topics that interlink with singing.
I hope that these book recommendations have got you thinking and have provided some guidance on how you can get started improving your voice faster.
BONUS TIP | Here’s what worked best for me…start with the voice science stuff. Get a really good understanding of how your voice functions (and question your teacher if you need further explanations).
Take your time and then move on to how to care for your mind, body and soul, and vocal health before trying to refine your performance.
But if you make it through this list and feeling thirsty for more, why not check out the my Bookshelf, where you’ll find more of the best books on singing.
And don't forget to grab your freebie:
The Ultimate Vocal Health Guide
- a 14-day plan to help you improve your voice!
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