The beauty of the internet is that it seems everything you could possibly want is just a few clicks away. That’s mostly true, except now the challenge is having to sort through an overwhelming number of choices. The team over at StringOvation has put together a great guide to sheet music in the digital age.
This applies to online sheet music sources. A simple Google search will return countless options, but who has time to sort through all that? We do, so you don’t have to. Here are some great sources for sheet music, detailing what sets each one apart.
International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP) and Mutopia are two sources for sheet music in the public domain. These are great options for teachers because most of the sheet music here can be copied, used for performances, and recorded. Mutopia offers free downloads, while IMSLP charges for its sheet music. However, IMSLP has amazing search options! Say you’re not looking for a specific work. Instead, you have a group of five musicians and want a piece that features the cello. You can run that search on IMSLP.
If you’re a student who wants free sheet music to use for your own private edification, 8notes is an excellent source. You can quickly filter options by four skill levels (beginners, easy, intermediate, and advanced), as well as by key signature. Free-scores is another free sheet music site. This one offers instrumentation filters, making it easy to find works for violas. (We love our viola players!)
Musicnotes has an extensive library and useful search and filter options. Prices for individual pieces typically fall within $2 to $9. There are discounts for buying more than one copy of a work and a small upcharge if you want a pdf version as well. Where this site stands out is in the variety of benefits and options it offers regarding how you get your sheet music.
- If you buy a lot of sheet music, you can get a membership in Musicnotes Pro. Annual membership fees are $8 or $15, with steep everyday discounts and member-only sales.
- For the digitally-minded, Musicnotes has apps that automatically store all the sheet music you’ve bought from them, along with providing app functions like playback and transposition tools. You can also add your owns to the sheet music via the app.
- The site also sells arrangements under its Musicnotes Edition label, which includes copy, performance and recording copyrights with the purchase of the sheet music. This is great for music teachers, orchestras, or any musician that wants to perform and share performance recordings publicly. Any sheet music with the green note is available as a Musicnotes Edition.
Sheet Music Plus bills itself as having the “world’s largest selection of sheet music.” It offers an extensive variety of sheet music and playbooks, across genres, instruments, and arrangements. If you want to find a book with exercises and scales, this site has a vast array of these too. The site provides discounts for teachers, students, and choir directors. It also includes easy-to-find star reviews, which you can filter down to narrow the field for sheet music that’s earned at least four stars (out of five). It also has an affiliate program that private music teachers and tutors may want to join to resell sheet music to students.
If you’re a music teacher, you may already know about Pender’s, a sheet music site focused on learning exercises and arrangements, and school orchestra and band competition music. You can sort by state and competition organization to find the right music.
Last, you can certainly visit Amazon or other bookstore sites, as they often have playbooks and sheet music. These types of sites work best if you know the exact piece of music you want.
What’s your go-to source for sheet music?
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I'm the co-owner of The Music Box and a lifelong musician as a euphonium player. The son of a band director, alumnus of the University of Alabama and father of 3, I keep busy on my Peloton and managing multiple businesses.