The internet makes it easier than ever to access a huge amount of sheet music... and some of it is free! This means there is absolutely no excuse for avoiding practice as you can always find something you enjoy playing.
One of the most common forms used to download music is the Adobe PDF file. There are literally thousands of websites offering free downloads of music in this format. One of the easiest ways of finding PDF music is to search for title you are looking for with the PDF extension.
Another format that is becoming very popular online is the Sibelius Scorch browser plug-in. This actually allows you to see, hear and even transpose the music before you print it. The only trouble is downloaded music can be of very variable quality! Click here for more information on how and where to download good quality music both as PDF files and in the Sibelius Scorch format.
Of course, you can always get a recording of the music you want and transcribe a copy yourself
CDs containing PDF music files are also available. The advantage of these is they often contain a composer's complete works for a certain genre or instrument in an easily searchable format. I have The Complete Piano Works of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin and Liszt as well as the Collected Keyboard works of Bach - which includes all the four-part chorales...amazing for sight-reading practice!
There are now many sheet music Apps for tablets that allow you to download scores directly to your iPad or Android table. One of my favourites is the Avid Scorch App. You can buy music as an in app purchase and since it is in the Scorch format you can transpose the music at the touch of a button. The app will also play the music for you, although it is quite mechanical and I don't think it would be suitable to use as an actual accompaniment - but it is certainly very useful for rehearsing with, especially if you are a singer. Just be careful about the fact that some of the pieces in the Scorch Store are PDF files, so if you need to transpose check before you buy.
The other Apps I like to use are unReal Book and forScore. Both of these display PDF files but add several specific musical features. You can mark scores up and have anchor points in the music, so for instance clicking on the sign at a Da Capo al Segno will take you straight back to the sign! unReal book also allows you to connect a track to the PDF file so you can listen to it as well.
Tonara is an amazing app that utilizes the microphone of the iPad to listen to you play and turn the pages automatically when you reach the bottom of the page! It doesn't always work, and you have to buy the music via in-app purchase from Tonara for this to work, but it is worth downloading just to play with the included pieces.
Even with the availability of free or low cost music on the web, it is still sometimes preferable to have a book to play from. I find this is particularly the case when playing the piano. A book makes the pages easier to turn (I have been caught with pieces of A4 paper flying off the piano desk more than once), it is often quicker to look something up - especially in a book of Sonatas where the book has a clear index showing the main theme at the front, books are 'no printer required' - just open the book and play. I have even tried playing from music on a laptop screen sitting on the piano...not a good experience! And call me old fashioned but I like having actual music books on the piano allowing me to browse through them and play through short sections of a piece to see if I like it and want to learn it...maybe I am just old fashioned!
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