Great Books for Artists (of Any Kind) Pt. 4

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by Jan Seides
Friday 21st February, 2014, 9:43pm

Over the years, I’ve found a number of books that got me motivated, thrust me into action, or helped me resolve some of the many stumbling blocks artists are prone to.  I discovered them mostly in random fashion, or they were recommended by a friend, or mentioned in something else I was reading. Here is an aggregated list (about 5 at a time, so you’ll have time to investigate them) of all the ones I found useful, and usually entertaining. (Disclaimer: I am not financially involved in any of these. Just appreciative.)

Screen shot 2014-02-11 at 12.57.11 AMJohn Braheny’s The Craft and Business of Songwriting is a comprehensive and eloquent instruction book for those who dream of a career in songwriting. In it are answers, fuel, anecdotes, exercises, and examples from talented and well-known songwriters. This is not a book to sit and read and finish, but rather a reference book that you will want to keep handy.

Much of the information is culled from John’s years of experience, the workshops he presented and from those he interviewed who became his fans and his friends. He has passed on, but his wife, JoAnn is still working on their common legacy and is very active in the community.

John’s book goes all the way from defining creativity and developing a good song, to marketing and making money from your music. An invaluable book to have in one’s collection.

Screen shot 2014-02-11 at 1.13.55 AMThe plain, unadulterated fun of making art in any form is often overlooked in the serious discussions of making “good” art.  These two workbooks are about that fun aspect, and they are so appropriately named, I just love using them. Both Songwriter’s Playground, by Barbara Jordan , and Songwriters Coloring Book, by Bill Pere, seem to capture that quality of fun that is what keeps us all addicted to creating art.


Screen shot 2014-02-11 at 1.12.57 AMBoth contain exercises, scenarios, challenges and the like, all very entertaining and absorbing, and …. well …. fun!




Screen shot 2014-02-18 at 9.38.21 PMAnd finally, a book just about creativity. Once again, an all-around explanation, defining the term, and how to develop it (We all have it!) How to ignore your inner critic.  What drew me to this one was the title: A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative.  It’s actually about using creativity in business, but applies to the artistic endeavor as well, of course. The author, Roger von Oech, Ph.D. wrote another one called A Kick in the Seat of the Pants.  Clearly this man understands the impact of a new idea!


If you would like to investigate how this played out in my own songwriting, please check out my music at and I’ll send you some examples for free!


Category: Music, Songwriting

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