Fergus Black

music teacher and performer


The Singing Teacher’s Bookshelf

Here is a list of the books I use most to teach singing (in the UK). I would recommend these to others. I offer the list as a guide, if needed, to other teachers who might feel there is a gap in their library.

Classical Songs - Compilations

Sing Together
Editors Appleby and Fowler
Publisher OUP
ISBN 9780193301566
My notes Good compilation of simple folk and traditional songs for the UK. Good for younger singers (up to Yr 6) and excellent for sight-singing for older students.

Sing Solo
Publisher OUP
My notes This series of four books is for more advanced students. Good choice of repertoire. The editors are distinguished singers, and these are performing editions. Transposition (such as Elfenlied in Book 1) are not noted, and not all songs are given in their original language.

Sing Solo Soprano
Editor Jean Allister
ISBN 9780193457805

Sing Contralto
Editor Constance Shacklock
ISBN 9780193457799
for more advanced students

Sing Solo Tenor
Editor Robert Tear
ISBN 9780193850170

Sing Solo Baritone
Editor John Carol Case
ISBN 978-0193457775

Chester Book of Celebrated Songs
Editor Shirley Leah
Publisher Chester Music
My notes A good compilation of classical songs for the developing voice. I would use these for around grade 4 to grade 6 (the songs are graded: Book 1 for the easy ones, and Book 3 for the harder ones). There isn’t any concession to voice type, however

Chester Book of Celebrated Songs, Volume 1
ISBN 0-7119-2270-5

Chester Book of Celebrated Songs, Volume 2
ISBN 9780711929371

Chester Book of Celebrated Songs, Volume 3
ISBN 9780711939172

Twenty-Four Italian Songs And Arias Of The 17th And 18th Centuries
My notes: This appears to be published only for Medium-High Voice. This is standard repertoire, widely used, but now extremely dated, with accompaniments that are anachonistric (albeit very fine!). Everyone needs a copy: you might think there are better options now, but sometimes it is helpful to have editorial interference - and indeed Si Tu m”ami, which turns out not to be by Pergolesi at all, but by the editor Parisotti. Flattery indeed.
Publisher Schirmer

26 Italian Songs And Arias (Medium/High Voice) (Book/CD)
Also published without the CD
Publisher Alfred Publishing
ISBN 0739000136
My notes This is my preferred volume for this repertoire - the accompaniments are unfussy, and the songs presented with pronunciation guide, word-for-word translations and biographical information. It is everything a song book ought to be, but so rarely is.

The Junior Recitalist
Editor Noelle Barker
Publisher Stainer and Bell

Volume 1 Soprano
ISBN M 2202 0980 2

Volume 2 Mezzo-soprano/Contralto
ISBN M 2202 0981 9

Volume 3 Tenor (out of print)
ISBN M 2202 0982 6

Volume 4 Baritone/Bass (out of print)
ISBN M 2202 0983 3

My notes: There are four books of English songs - one for each voice type. They both have excellent material, albeit somewhat recherché. I am always tempted to cover the books in brown paper - the title seems to me to be misjudged: junior singers aren’t really interested in unusual English repertoire, and I am not sure in what sense the word Junior is meant - these songs don’t seem to make technical or musical concessions to youth, and adults are put off by the word “Junior”. Junior perhaps meaning ages 16-18. Volume 2 gets a rosette from me, for including Holst’s Betelgeuse (one of the great songs of all time), but again I wouldn’t fancy exploring theosophist philosophy with anyone under 16.

Classical Songs - Standard Repertoire

Schubert Lieder
Schumann Lieder
Brahms Lieder
Wolf Lieder
Fauré Lieder

Musical Theatre and Film

The Singers Music Theatre Anthology
This is an ever-expanding series, now consisting of twenty-three volumes, of core material. There are five volumes for each voice type, and three volumes of duets. Some of them have been published in Original and Revised editions (which are not the same). Revised is better. Also, some volumes have backing tracks on CD (volume 1 of each voice is indispensible).

This web site has a list

And the publishers very helpfully publish a pdf index to the complete series of The Singers Music Theatre Anthology:

Soprano Volume 1
Book only
ISBN 978-0881885460
Book and CDs
ISBN 978-1423423645

Mezzo-Soprano/Belter Volume 1
Book only
ISBN: 0-88188-545-2
Book and CDs
ISBN 978-0634061820

Tenor Volume 1
Book only
ISBN 978-0881885491
Book and CDs
ISBN 978-1423423669

Baritone/Bass Volume 1
Book only
ISBN 978-0881885484
Book and CDs
ISBN 978-1423-42367-6

There are also three volumes of Duets
My notes perhaps here, two volumes are necessary, since the voices needed are different.

Duets Volume 1 (Male/Female)
Book only
ISBN: 978-0881885477
Book and CDs
ISBN 978-1423423683

Duets Volume 2 (Various Voices)
Book only
ISBN 978-0634064463 or 978-0634098352
Book and CDs
ISBN 978-0634078583 or 978-1423423737

Theatre Solos for Beginning Singers (15 Easy Theatre Solos)
ISBN: 0-7119-8712-2
Mezzo Soprano/Alto
ISBN: 0-7119-8713-0
Publisher: Hal Leonard Europe
My notes: some of these are certainly NOT easy! Good selection. Good for approx Grades 4-6. early-mid teen girls

Broadway for Teens
Young Men
ISBN 978-1-423-40120-4
Young Women’s Edition
ISBN 978-1-4234-0119-0
Editor Louise Lerch
Publisher Hal Leonard
My notes: excellent modern anthologies of carefully chosen material for the young singers. I really rate these. Each book is published with a CD of backing tracks, adjustable for speed and pitch.

The Teens Musical Theatre Collection
My notes: I use these a lot, but they are a bit dated now. They have been replaced by Broadway for Teens (q.v.)
Young Men's Edition (book and CD)
Author: Louise Lerch
Publisher: Hal Leonard 00740161
ISBN 0-634-03078-7
Also published without the CD:
Young Men's Edition (book only)
Publisher: Hal Leonard 00740078
ISBN 0-7935-8226-1
Young Women’s Edition (book and CD)
Publisher: Hal Leonard 00740160
ISBN 0-634-03077-9
Also published without the CD:
Young Women’s Edition (book only)
Publisher: Hal Leonard 00740077
ISBN 0-7935-8225-3

Musical Theatre Classics
My notes I like these books because they include a CD of performance (by a professional soloist with piano), as well as piano backing tracks. There are volumes for all voice types.
Published by Hal Leonard Europe
Baritone/Bass edition:
ISBN 0711987246

Vocal Selections (or Vocal Scores) of Musicals
My notes Buy as many as you can! Vocal Selections for beginners would include:
The Sound of Music
The King and I
early Disney, e.g. The Jungle Book,

Contemporary Disney (50 songs)
Publisher: Walt Disney Music Company (distributed by Hal Leonard)
ISBN 0-634-02830-8
My notes: I use this a lot with early to mid-teen girls

The Illustrated Treasury of Disney Songs
Publisher Hal Leonard
ISBN 0-7935-9365-4
My notes I use this with younger singers, around grades 0-3, Years 7 and below.

Music Theatre Collection for Young Women Singers
My notes: I can’t recommend this, although it is widely available in the UK, and has a good selection of popular material, it mixes voice types, so half the book is wasted. There is no chart of tessitura for each song, so unless you know the material well, you end up wasting time with it, at least I do. I would use Theatre Solos for Beginning Singers instead (same publisher)
Publisher HLE HLE90001476
ISBN 0-7119-8728-9

Single Composer Anthologies
Cole Porter
Jerome Kern

Pop and Rock

All-Woman Series
Publisher IMP

All-Woman Volume 1
Book only
ISBN 9781859091265
Book and CD
ISBN 9781859097625
All-Woman Volume 2
Book only
ISBN 9781859091777
Book and CD
ISBN 9781859098264
All-Woman Volume 3
Book only
ISBN 9781859092231
Book and CD
ISBN 9781843280149
All-Woman Volume 4
Book only
ISBN 9781859092842
Book and CD
ISBN 9781843280460
My notes:
Now dated, but much of this is core repertoire. The books that include a CD do not have all the songs of the books that don’t have CDs. The original series has been extended to include All Woman Love SOngs, All Woman Jazz, etc.

Rock School Vocals
Publisher Trinity College of Music
Rock School Vocals Grade 1 -3 Female
ISBN 1-84449-551-5
Rock School Vocals Grades 4-5 Female
ISBN 1-84449-552-3
Rock School Vocals Grades 6-8 Female
ISBN 1-84449-553-1
Rock School Vocals Grade 1-3 Male
ISBN 1-84449-554-X
Rock School Vocals Grades 4-5 Male
ISBN 1-84449-555-8
Rock School Vocals Grades 6-8 Male
ISBN 1-84449-556-6
each with 2 CDs of backing tracks
Rock School Vocals Companion Guide
ISBN 1-902775-34-1

My notes
Rockschool has a website at www.rockschool.co.uk

Audition Songs
Extensive Series of books with backing tracks on accompanying CD. Mostly Pop, but some Music Theatre. There are too many volumes in the series to mention individually.
Publisher: Wise Publications

This web site has a list:

Graded Compilations

Singing Time

Published in four volumes,
Singing Time Grade 1
ISBN 9780711994423
Singing Time Grade 2
ISBN 0-7119-9121-9,or possibly 9780711991217
Singing Time Grade 3
ISBN 0-7119-9171-5
Singing Time Grade 4
ISBN 9781844494170
Author: David Turnbull
Publisher: Bosworth
My notes: It is very good to have all the music needed for an exam in the same book - practical advice, warm-ups and theory, together with songs and sight-singing exercises. The sight-Singing sections are out of date since the Assoc. Board made their 2009 sight-singing tests untexted, but are still very useful. These are my books of choice for young singers. I find grade 3 and 4 the best, because the range of material suits a wide range of ages. Grades 1 and 2 (partly it has to be said constrained by the ABRSM lists). So I tend to use the Grade 1 book only in Primary Schools (up to Year 6)

The Boosey and Hawkes 20th-Century Easy Song Collection
Editor Eileen Field
Publisher Boosey and Hawkes
ISBN 9-790060-112256

Singer’s World
There are four books (volumes 3 and 4 are published both for high voice and for low voice). I find these are very good compilations, albeit one needs to use them with some caution: for example, compare the standard of Lurking in the Pond (easy) and When I was one-and-twenty (really hard) from Book 2! Books 1 and 2 are published like instrumental books, i.e. with a separate booklet included for the singer, with the vocal line only. What a good idea!

Singer’s World Book 1
ISBN 5-027441-091109

Singer’s World Book 2
ISBN 5-027741-092106

Singer’s World Book 3 High Voice
ISBN 5-027741-093110

Singer’s World Book 3 Low Voice
ISBN 5-027741-093127

Singer’s World Book 4 High Voice
ISBN 5-027741-094117

Singer’s World Book 4 Low Voice
ISBN 5-027741-094124

Making the Grade

Making the Grade 2 - 3
Publisher Chester CH61681
ISBN 0-7119-8295-3
My notes good beginner book for girls, 8-11

Making the Grade 4 - 5
Publisher Chester CH61682
ISBN 0-7119-8296-1
My notes good beginner book for girls 11-13

Basics of Singing
My notes: This book is regularly revised. IMHO, each edition gets rather less useful in the UK. There is an understandable bias towards American material which seems to me to have increased with each revision. The current, Sixth Edition, is unusable to me. The good news is that the early editions are available cheaply second-hand.
Second edition
ISBN 0-02-872341-4
Fourth edition
Fifth edition
ISBN 0-534-25237-0

[The sixth edition does have a 2CD accompanying set of backing tracks
ISBN-13 978-0-495-11531-1]

The ABRSM Songbook, series
Compilers: Campbell, Forbes and Zobens
Publisher: Associated Board New Singing Books
My notes: Published in five volumes, but printed at soprano pitch only! with a CD that is at soprano pitch only, but they do have pronunciation guides for all songs.

The ABRSM Songbook Grade 1
ISBN 978-1-86096-597-5
The ABRSM Songbook Grade 2
ISBN 978-1-86096-598-2
The ABRSM Songbook Grade 3
ISBN 978-1-86096-599-9
The ABRSM Songbook Grade 4
ISBN 978-1-86096-600-2
The ABRSM Songbook Grade 5
ISBN 9781860966019

Folk Songs

Penguin Book of Folk Song
(also published as the The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs)
Editors Ralph Vaughan Williams and A. L. Lloyd
Publisher Penguin
ISBN 978-0140116359
My notes Classic collection, highly recommended.
This web site has a listing of recordings of each song: http://www.informatik.uni-hamburg.de/~zierke/lloyd/penguinbookofenglishfolksongs.html


Classic English Folk Songs
Editors R Vaughan Williams and A L Lloyd.
Publisher The English Folk Dance & Song Society
ISBN 0-85418-188-1
My notes Seems to be unavailable. It is a revised edition of The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs

The Crystal Spring: English Folk Songs Collected by Cecil Sharp (Paperback)
Editor Maud Karpeles (Editor)
Publisher OUP
ISBN 978-0192840189
My notes This is the book I use most, as a glance at my folk song page will show.

Botsford Collection of Folk Songs
Published by Schirmer
Editor Botsford, Florence Hudson
An old series of books, published in the 1930s. I use these a lot because they have a wide range of folk-songs in foreign languages. I feel that students can hardly go into Grade 7 and sing Scarborough Fair!

Vol. 1. The Americas, Asia and Africa
Vol. 2. Northern Europe
Vol. 3. Southern Europe. 


Sight Sing Well
Author: Jonathan Rathbone
Publisher: Edition Peters
My Notes: best for pre-teens beginner - systematic. Some of the lyrics are a bit childish.

Book 1a - Basic Solfa, Teacher’s Manual (EP 7766)
ISBN: 9-790577-085708
Book 1b - Basic Solfa, Exercise Book (EP 7767)
ISBN: 9-790577-085715
Book 1c - Pupil's Book (EP 7768)
ISBN 9-790577-085722

Successful Sight-Singing
Author: Nancy Telfer
Publisher: Kjos Music Company
My Notes: best for small groups - excellent material, well ordered, and imaginative lyrics. There is a Book 2 that I have never had the need of, there being so much material in Book 1.
Book 1 Students’ Edition
ISBN 978-0849741678
Book 1 Teacher’s Edition
ISBN 9780849741685

Improve Your Sight-Singing
Authors: Paul Harris and Mike Brewer
Publisher: Faber Music
My notes suitable for more musically literate students (e.g. those studying other instruments) Published in two volumes (each available in two editions. for High and Medium/Low voice)

Improve Your Sight-Singing High/Medium Voice, Elementary: Treble Clef
ISBN 978-0571517336
Improve Your Sight-Singing Low/Medium Voice, Elementary: Treble Clef
ISBN 0-571-51766-8
Improve Your Sight-Singing Low/Medium Voice, Bass Clef:
ISBN 9780571517671

Improve Your Sight-Singing High/Medium Intermediate:
ISBN 0-571-51768-4
Improve Your Sight-Singing Low/Medium Voice, Treble Clef, Intermediate:
ISBN 0-571-51769-2

The Advanced volume has never been published!

Specimen Sight-Singing Tests (from 2009)
Publisher ABRSM

Specimen Sight-Singing Tests Grades 1-5
ISBN 978-1-86096-958-4
Specimen Sight-Singing Tests Grade 6-8
ISBN 978-1-86096-959-1
My notes: These books will show you what level you need to achieve, but not how to get there!

Programme Notes

Music in Words
Author Trevor Herbert
Publisher ABRSM
ISBN 9781860962363

Vocal Exercises

Metodo Pratico di Canto
Author: Nicolo Vaccai (Vaccaj)
Publisher: Ricordi
My Notes: There are two editions, Soprano/Tenor and Alto/Baritone. Although this book is also available for free download from Scribd.com, the Ricordi edition comes with a CD of (excellent) performances and backing tracks, as well as notes by the editor.

Voice Placing and Training Exercises by George Dodds
There are two editions: for Soprano/Tenor, and for Alto/Baritone
I used to think this rather dull - probably judging it on the look of the pages, rather than the content. As I get older, I realise the error of my ways. I use it all the time, now, with more advanced singers

Mike Brewer’s Warm-Ups!
Author Mike Brewer
Publisher Faber Music
ISBN 978-571520718

Pronunciation Guides

A Handbook of Diction for Singers
Author David Adams
Publisher Oxford
ISBN 9780195120776
My notes Indispensible guide to pronunciation of French, Italian and German.

The Singer’s Manual of English Diction
Author Madeleine Marshall
Publisher Schirmer
ISBN 9780028711003
My notes A bit dated, and American of course. Very detailed. Should be on every singer’s bookshelf

Singing and Communicating in English
Author la Bouff
Publisher Oxford
ISBN 978-0195311396
My notes Some may find this may be an alternative to Marshall’s book, but it is too American for my tastes

Song Text Translations

Lieder Line By Line
Author Lois Phillips
Publisher Oxford
ISBN 9780198790174
My notes Indispensable.


The Voice Book
Author Michael McCallion
Publisher Faber
ISBN 9780571195251
My notes Not specifically for singers, but contains very many exercises and technical advice about voice production, and pronunciation in English

Expressive Singing
Author Timothy Caldwell
Publisher Prentice Hall
ISBN 9780130452955
My notes The best book I ever bought about singing

Singing in Tune
Author Nancy Telfer
Publisher Kjos Music Company
ISBN 978-780849741876

The Structure of Singing
Author Richard Miller
Publisher Schirmer Books
ISBN 0-02-872660-X
My notes Any book by Richard Miller is worth the purchase price ten times over

The Naked Voice
Author W. Stephen Smith
Publisher Oxford
ISBN 978-0-19-530050-5
My notes Advanced level text. Practical exercises borne of years of experience with opera singers.

Find Your Voice
Author Jo Thompson
Publisher Artemis Press)
ISBN 1-904411-25-8
Find Your Voice CD (Vocal Exercises for Men)
ISBN 1-90411-35-5
Find Your Voice CD (Vocal Exercises for Women)
ISBN 1-904411-34-7
My notes I use this book with sixth-formers and first year college students. It covers most of the ground of singing, business advice as well as practical exercises.

Singing and Imagination
Author Thomas Helmsley
Publisher Oxford
ISBN 9780198790167
My notes If I were allowed to take only one book about how to sing to my desert island, it would be this one.

Trinity Guildhall Singing Syllabus

Associated Board Singing Syllabus

Online Resources

Pay-for sheet music
Classical Schubertline http://www.schubertline.co.uk/home.htm
Popular Sheet Music Direct http://www.sheetmusicdirect.com/Default.aspx

Translations of Songs
Lied and Art Song Page http://www.lieder.net/lieder/index.html

Sight Singing
Eyes and Ears http://www.lightandmatter.com/sight/sight.html

General sites for Singers
Singer’s Workshop (in French) http://chanteur.net/workshop.htm
Vocalist http://www.vocalist.org.uk/index.html
Peabody (a resource for more advanced singers) http://www.peabody.jhu.edu/conservatory/mecc/repertoire_resources_for_singers.pdf