Online Musical Resources for Performing
This post is a bit off of the beaten path for this blog. However, most schools have at least part-time music teachers, and most schools put on productions, programs, or PTA/PTO programs. School librarians may be called upon to help find sources of music for performing – musical scores.
(Also, I have found in my many years of working with school librarians that many have a musical “sideline” job or hobby. This is true in my case. I am thinking about keyboard here, in particular.)
Copyright law, as you know, is particularly challenging, if not downright obstructive, in the arena of music. I won’t get into that here, but I’ve tried hard to avoid the many illegal sources of music available. The worst culprit, of course, is the copy machine located in the office!
So what can you do if someone rushes down to the media center and says: “Help! I need a copy of ______ for the Fourth Grade Program tonight!”
Here are two places to try: JW Pepper and MusicNotes.com. These are both commercial sources of musical scores and sheet music. However, their online access to downloadable sheet music provides many titles almost instantly at a reasonable cost. (Anyone who has spent hours driving around town looking for a copy of a certain song at various music stores will appreciate this fact!)
Both sites have search engines – MusicNotes’ interface is better. I suspect JW Pepper has more inventory; they are a well-known music vendor in the Atlanta area, and used by musicians within hundreds of miles. You can choose between versions of a song. With a downloaded plugin you can view the score (or part of the score). If you choose to buy, you pay and then print out the music.
Here’s a really nifty feature: both sites can transpose into different keys.
I’m looking forward to the day when a laptop can display music in such a way that it can be performed. This works fine for one or two pages (I’ve tried it), but there’s no easy way to view multiple pages with the standard computer set up. In the meantime, I’ll keep my musical score collection and use sites like these to fill in the gaps.
You can use GoogleDocs to type up an index to your collection of music. Share it with the other musicians in your network. Hopefully, they will add their titles as well. Copyright law does not keep us from “interlibrary loaning” our musical resources, as far as I know!
Mary Ann Fitzgerald, University of Georgia