Digital Sheet Music & iPad Apps: Should You Make the Switch?

Digital Sheet Music, iPad Apps, and More (1)Feeling overwhelmed by pages and pages of sheet music? If you’re tech-savvy, you might want to consider switching to an all-digital library. Here, Elaina R. reviews the pros and cons of using digital sheet music, the best sheet music apps, and how to make the switch…

 

I recently purchased a tablet. I didn’t buy this tablet for scrolling through Instagram or catching up on TV shows, though. I purchased it to replace my bloated, disorganized music folder.

That’s right – I now almost exclusively use digital sheet music. At rehearsals these days I’m holding my tablet, not a binder. And I am so glad I made the switch!

If you already have a tablet (or are thinking about purchasing one), you could switch over to digital sheet music too. Digital sheet music for singers — that you download onto your iPad or other tablet device — alleviates many of the issues involved with using physical copies and can make for a happier, more organized musician (like me)! Here are the pros and cons of making the switch – and what you will need if you decide to do it.

Digital sheet music pros


Less Stuff, More Music

I finally snapped because of a paper mess that’s been brewing in my studio for years. I have reams of old photocopies, opera scores, song books, and oratorio scores lining my shelves. The books are nice, but if you only need to sing one piece it’s annoying to lug a whole book around. The binders of photocopies have become progressively more unwieldy in the last decade. They are now so big that I dread having to take them out.

On top of all that, as a full-time professional singer, I go through an insane amount of music. My everyday binder, which contained all of the music I was working on, exploded all over my bag at least once a day. My house was buried in stacks of photocopies and scores. The situation was bad for the environment, bad for my back, and bad for my sanity. Finally, after losing an important tax document in a gigantic pile of sheet music, I realized that something had to change.

Now, all of my music fits into my slim tablet. I have way more music with me than I could possibly carry around in hard-copy format, and it’s neatly organized and easily accessible.

You Can’t Lose Things

Back to the tax document. When you’re handling large volumes of sheet music, it takes a lot of patience and time to organize it. If you fall behind in your organization, you start to lose music — sometimes music that you desperately need! With a tablet, that possibility is mitigated (much to my relief).

It’s Environmentally Friendly

In the old days, I felt a twinge of guilt every time I had to print a new piece of music. Now I have all of the music I need without using a single sheet of paper. This is particularly helpful if you are part of a singing group, like I am. When I switched over to digital sheet music, four of my five co-workers did the same thing. We are killing far fewer trees these days!

digital sheet music cons


Technical Difficulties 

Change requires a learning curve, and switching to digital sheet music is no exception. Since I bought my tablet expressly as a music reader, I had to learn how to use it while I acquainted myself with the sheet music app I use. There’s still a lot I don’t know about it, and I had to look up instructions for a few of the trickier functions.

However, overall there were no major hurdles… except one. For some reason, trying to import documents from Google Drive to the app causes my tablet to crash. It’s bizarre, but luckily there are many other ways I can import music into the program.

Also, when using a tablet to read music, you need to keep that tablet charged. I got pretty freaked out when I realized that one of my co-workers had 17% battery during a performance the other day. If you are good about keeping your smartphone charged, I’m sure you won’t have a problem remembering to charge your tablet.

Writing On Music

One of the concerns I had about using digital vocal sheet music was maintaining the ability to write on the music. When I use old-fashioned paper, I spend rehearsals scribbling notes all over the pages. The process of writing on digital music is a little more complex. Writing freehand with a finger or stylus takes incredible dexterity (which I do not possess). However, highlighting is easy, and typing instructions onto the music looks cleaner than handwriting ever could.

Staying Uniform in Performance

I sometimes have to perform works that are not memorized. In these cases, singers are usually expected to use a uniform black folder. I usually just put my tablet into one of these folders, which, while annoying, is not insufferable. I’m still on the lookout for a tablet case that has a completely black, finished inside flap – I think that would look enough like a black folder to be acceptable. If you see one, let me know!

how to get sheet music on ipad


Do the pros outweigh the cons for you? Great! Here’s what you’ll need to make the jump to digital music.

Tablet

First and foremost, you’ll need a tablet. If you already have one lying around, you’re in luck. If not, don’t feel obligated to buy a $400 model; just make sure the screen is large enough for you to read music comfortably. I got my RCA Viking Pro, which has a 10.1-inch screen, on sale for $80.

Digital Music Library / Sheet Music App

Then, you’ll need a sheet music app to organize, edit, and view your music. You can create setlists, highlight, add notes, and much more.

FAQ: What are the best sheet music apps for iPads and Android tablets?

If you have an iPad, I recommend forScore ($9.99). Got an Android like me? Get MobileSheets Pro ($12.99).

Other options for sheet music readers apps are:

Smartphone Scanner

A smartphone scanner comes in handy when you have a hard copy that you need to import into your digital music library.

FAQ: How do I put sheet music on my iPad?

All you have to do is take pictures of your sheet music with your scanner app; the app adjusts the white balance to make it look like a photocopy. I use TinyScanner, which is free for both iOS and Android.

Where to Find Digital Sheet Music for Singers

If you need new music, you can avoid hard copies entirely by downloading digital versions. Here are the top three websites I use to get my digital copies, but this is by no means a comprehensive list.

  • IMSLP: This website has tons of public domain (classical) available for download, all for free.
  • SheetMusicPlus: SheetMusicPlus sells digital copies of music ranging from pop to classical.
  • MusicNotes: This site is similar to SheetMusicPlus, with lots of genres available for digital download.

You can also download digital copies directly from music publishers such as Hal Leonard, Alfred Music, and J.W. Pepper.

Conclusion


Even if your house isn’t full of crumpled sheet music, you may still benefit from switching to digital music. It’s cleaner, easier, lighter, and better for the environment. Plus, your voice teacher will love that you are so organized (and that you never forget to bring your music to lessons)! If you already have a tablet, I encourage you to download a digital music reader and give it a shot. We live in a digital world, and you may find that digital music is perfect for you.

View all Takelessons.com Free Sheet Music Resources.

Post Author: Elaina R.
Elaina R. teaches opera voice and singing in Ypsilanti, MI, as well as through online lessons. She received her Master of Music from the University of Michigan, and she has a B.M. from the University of Southern California. Learn more about Elaina here!

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Sight Singing Practice and Tips

6 Noteworthy Sight Reading Tips for Singers

6 Noteworthy Sight Reading Tips for SingersAre you a singer looking to improve your music reading skills? You’re in luck! In this article, voice teacher Elaina R. shares everything you need to know about sight singing exercises and tips..

 

One of the most impressive feats for a singer is the ability to pick up a piece of music and read it. How can you get to that point? With patience, dedication, and lots of practice, you can master the art of sight singing!

What Is Sight Singing?

Sight singing is sight reading for singers. When singers sight read, they need to think about three factors at once:

  • The rhythm
  • The pitches
  • The words

Singers are lucky that they only have to sight read one line at a time; pianists, organists, and some other instrumentalists have to read several lines at once! However, only we singers have to read lyrics as a well as notes. This complicates things, especially when those words are in a foreign language (as often happens for classical singers).

How to Sight Sing – Tips & Strategies

Ready to get started? Sight singing can seem daunting, but it just takes practice. Here are a few things you can do to simplify the process.

Before You Start…

Orient Yourself
Check out the key signature. What key are you in? Is it a major or minor key? How many beats are in each measure? Is there a tempo marking?

Scan
Quickly scan the piece to root out surprises. Is it in mixed meter? Are there tempo changes? Any hidden high notes? This is all helpful information.

Get Your Note
Play the opening chords, or at least your first note, on a piano. The more information you and your ears have, the better.

Tap the Beat
Establish the beat for yourself by tapping it on your leg or collarbone. This will help you stay in rhythm when things get crazy. I recommend that you practice singing with a metronome to get your rhythms as accurate as possible.

As You’re Singing…

Think Solfege
If you know what key you’re in, you should know where the movable ‘do’ is (read this article if you’re unsure what I mean). If you know where ‘do’ is, identifying ‘so’ and other key notes becomes easier. Thinking in solfege helps many singers sight read more accurately.

Rhythm, Pitches, Words
If you start to get lost, this is your order of priority. When you practice sight reading, words are not very important; sing “la la la” if you have to. Pitches, while important, are not as important as the rhythm in sight singing. If you sing the wrong pitches and the right rhythm, you’ll know exactly where you are in the music and be able to catch yourself, even if it sounds bad. If you sing the wrong rhythm, on the other hand, you’re in danger of losing your place in the music and having to stop.

Sight Singing Practice and Exercises

All you really need for sight singing practice is a piece of music you’ve never seen before. However, sight singing is a lot easier in shorter spurts. Before you start attempting to sight read full-length songs, try using one of the many resources available for singers who want to sharpen their sight singing skills.

Sight Singing Online Programs
There are online resources that provide clips to sight sing and audio tracks to check your work. If you prefer to practice at the computer rather than at the keyboard, this may be a good option for you. One popular service is SightReadingFactory.com, which costs $35 per year (about $3 per month).

Sight Singing Books with CDs
This is how us music school folks practiced sight singing in college. Although the teacher usually played starting pitches and accompaniment as needed, good sight reading books come with CDs so you can practice sight singing exercises at home. Here is one good example.

Sight Singing Apps
Need sight reading practice? There’s an app for that! These apps combine sight reading exercises with audio starting pitches and tracks to help you. Music Tutor Free seems to be the most popular free option.

Sight Singing Exercises With Others
One of the best ways to improve your sight singing skills is to join a choir. Choristers learn lots of music on a regular basis, and reading all of that music as a group really helps singers get comfortable sight reading.

And of course, working with your voice teacher on sight singing practice within your lessons is a great idea, too. Whatever route you take, learning to sight sing will help you become a better and more versatile singer. Good luck!

View all Takelessons.com Free Sheet Music Resources.

Post Author: Elaina R.
Elaina R. teaches opera voice and singing in Ann Arbor, MI, as well as through online lessons. She received her Master of Music from the University of Michigan, and she has a B.M. from the University of Southern California. Learn more about Elaina here!

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How to Read Sheet Music for Piano: A Visual Tour

Visual Tour of How to Read Sheet Music

As you learn how to read piano sheet music, a whole new world opens up! Instead of just black dots on a page, you’ll see beautiful melody and chords right before you. Here, piano teacher Nadia B. takes you on a helpful visual tour… 

 

One of the most interesting things about learning piano is that it’s truly like learning a new language – just as you learn how to decode words on a page to read them aloud, you are learning to unlock the symbols on the page to play music. It’s a whole different world, and this article will help you to more easily understand what all the symbols mean. That way, when you look at a piece of sheet music, you won’t think it’s Greek; you’ll see music!

First, let’s take a look a piece of sheet music; then, read on to learn more about each element:

how to read piano sheet music

1) The grand staff

The first thing to recognize is the grand staff. It is composed of two staffs (or groups of five parallel lines) joined together. The top staff uses the treble clef, while the bottom staff uses the bass clef. In general, the treble clef is where right hand notes are placed, while the bass clef is where left hand notes are placed. Once you know the piano note names, you will be able to read from the two staffs to play the correct notes with the correct hand.

In piano music, you can use different fingers to play a single note. The finger you use will depend on the location of the note within the phrase, as well as the hand position you are using. For this reason, you will often see finger numbers marked in the music to indicate which finger you should use. Finger numbers are an essential aid to playing well, as they will ensure that you maintain a good hand position and move naturally around the keyboard without awkward finger tucks.

2) Key signature

Directly after the treble and bass clef, you will see the key signature: a collection of sharps or flats that indicate which notes to alter within the music, as well as what key you are playing in.

3) Time signature

After the key signature comes the time signature: usually two numbers, one above the other, that tell you how many beats are in each measure and what type of note (quarter, eighth, half, etc.) is equal to one beat.

4) Tempo marking

You will also see a marking indicating what tempo the piece should be played (for example, allegro, indicating lively, or largo, indicating very slow). As you progress on the piano, you’ll get to know these common sheet music terms very well. Sometimes this also includes a specific metronome marking, which is a guideline to understand the range of tempi that are possible.

Then, you will see several things that occur throughout the music:

5) Dynamic markings

These markings tell you how loudly or softly to play the music, and when to gradually increase or decrease the sound. The letter ‘p’ indicates to play piano, or softly, while the letter ‘f’ stands for forte, or to play loudly.

You will see a marking similar to a hairpin for a crescendo, or gradual increase in sound, and a reverse hairpin for a decrescendo, or gradual decrease in sound. The location and length of the crescendo and decrescendo markings show you how long they should last and where to begin and end them.

6) Articulation markings

Another category of markings you will see is for articulation, or the way in which notes begin and end. In the written music, you will see symbols like accents (similar to a forward arrow), indicating to play the note with emphasis, or staccato (a dot above the note), indicating to play the note with space before the next note (slightly shorter than full value). You will also see slurs, lines that slope above or below a group of notes, which signify to connect the notes smoothly together as you play them.

7) Mood markings

Another marking you may see will indicate the mood of a particular passage. So you may see espressivo (play with great emotion) or appassionato (play passionately) marked in the music, among many others.

8) Pedal markings

One of the most important markings specific to piano is pedal markings. These illustrate where to depress the pedal and, often, how long to sustain it for. You will see this in the music as the abbreviation ‘Ped.; or sometimes as a bracket underneath the line of music.

 

So, the next time you pull out your piano sheet music, don’t feel overwhelmed. Instead, try going on a treasure hunt for these markings and symbols, and see what you discover about the music itself as a result!

Still struggling with understanding how the notes translate to the keys? Check out my visual intro to the piano keys!

View all Takelessons.com Free Sheet Music Resources.

Nadia BPost Author: Nadia B.
Nadia B. teaches flute and piano in New York, NY, as well as through online lessons. She acted as principal flutist of the orchestra and wind ensemble at California State University, Sacramento, and then went on to receive her degree in Music Performance from New York University. Learn more about Nadia here!

Photo by Joe Shlabotnik

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Best Places to Find Easy Violin Sheet Music Online

Top 5 Websites for Easy Violin Sheet Music

Top 5 Websites for Easy Violin Sheet Music

 

After weeks of practice, chances are you’ve nearly perfected the beginner songs recommended or required by your teacher and you’re looking for something a bit more challenging. Or perhaps you want to try something different other than a nursery song or scales. If you’ve reached the point where you want something new to supplement your regular lessons, there are several helpful websites that offer a wide range of easy violin sheet music.

Whether you want something contemporary,  classic, or just a slight change from the usual, spend some time combing through the following five websites. Note: If you’re at an intermediate level, the last three websites will give you the challenge you need to keep your interest in violin piqued.

Violinsheetmusic.org

Violinsheetmusic.org is at the top of the list not necessarily because it is the best, but because it has nearly 90 songs that are basic and very recognizable. From Christmas to American patriotic songs, the easy violin sheet music selection will help reinforce the early techniques of fingering and bowing. Because the songs are extremely familiar, you’ll be able to tell when you’re hitting the right notes and when you need to work on your fingering a little more.

Fretless Finger Guides

Another site for beginners, Fretless Finger Guides gives you more than just easy violin sheet music. The website provides additional instructions for each of the songs presented. While it has a very limited selection, the songs give you much easier versions of much more difficult songs, such as Fur Elise and Scarborough Fair. Ultimately, it can be a much more rewarding experience as you work toward transitioning beyond basic songs.

8notes.com

8notes.com offers different levels of violin sheet music, according to both skill and genre. If you choose to select music based on skill level, you’ll get a long list of songs within various ranges, including beginner, easy violin, intermediate, and advanced. If you don’t want to comb through a long list of mixed music genres, you can either select a type of music from one of the tabs at the top of the level page or you can choose from the main page. The various genres listed include wedding music, Christmas, world, and film.

Musicnotes.com

All of the sheet music on musicnotes.com will cost you between $2 and $5, depending on the song’s popularity. For example, Let It Go is available for download at $4.25 because it’s currently the No. 1 downloaded song  on the website. Musicnotes.com is wonderful if you know what song you want to practice. All you have to do is simply enter the information in the search and adjust the skill level of the sheet music, located on the right column.

Virtualsheetmusic.com

Another site that requires payments per downloaded song, virtualsheetmusic.com makes it easy to look up songs based on either your skill level or the song you want to download. Like musicnotes.com, it offers a much wider range of songs than the free sites previously mentioned. So, if you’re willing to pay a small fee, you can find the right song for your current mood or desired level.

Let’s face it, repeatedly playing the same kinds of violin songs and scales can turn practice into a chore. By leveraging the aforementioned websites, however, you can find easy violin sheet music to make practicing more interesting and fun.

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Tips for Learning to Read Sheet Music for Guitar

3500593654_c1224a76b6_oAlthough it is possible to learn to play guitar without reading sheet music, adding this skill to your arsenal will make you a better musician. Not sure where to start with sheet music on your guitar? Follow music teacher Eric J.‘s advice and you’ll be sightreading in no time…

Learning to read music is important. It increases your understanding of your instrument and makes you more valuable as a musician. Reading music for guitar allows you to collaborate with other instrumentalists in ways most guitar players can’t. Even if you have tons of chops or know all about music theory: if you want to wear the ‘Good Guitarist’ badge with pride you will need to be able read music for your instrument. Here’s how to get started.

Clear your mind

Forget everything you know about your guitar. This is especially important if you already know how to play a little bit. It’s even more important if you are already an experienced player. Are you a pretty solid guitarist who knows their chords and licks and can solo over rock and roll songs? If you are, excellent! You can potentially have great success as a music reader because you won’t have to learn technique along with reading like most beginners. That being said: Assume you know nothing about guitar from this moment on.

Get a good method book

A good introductory method book is worth its weight in gold and you can get one at your local music store for about ten dollars. You need material that is ‘graded’. That just means a good method book will introduce new concepts in a logical manner and repertoire should increase in complexity gradually without too many sudden leaps in difficulty.

The Mel Bay Guitar Method is the tried and true course for the aspiring reader. It’s been in print for decades and is wonderfully graded. The Hal Leonard Guitar Method series is also wonderful. It doesn’t move quite as fast as the Mel Bay books do, though. If you are already skilled at playing and want a more ‘adult’ book, Modern Method for Guitar by William Leavitt is a great series.

Find a good teacher

Once you have your method book you are going to need a guitar teacher to help work through it with you. This is extremely important, even in the beginning stages. Entry level material may throw you some mental curve balls if you are completely new to reading music, and you are going to need a mentor to help guide you through them. A good teacher will be able to keep you focused. Reading is hard and it takes quite a bit of brain power and a good teacher will be able to monitor your tone, technique and rhythm while you focus on navigating the music.

Don’t just read guitar music

This is super important. The method books are great, but in the end they are only that: method books. Most of the material you read in your book will be applicable in the real world but is just a small sliver of what out there.

Any music written in the treble clef should do the trick. Start hunting for sheet music. A good web resource is the Petrucci Music Library. Call your local music store and ask them if they have any overstock, damaged or otherwise forgotten about sheet music lying around. Anything will do. Check out garage sales and thrift stores. Don’t discriminate. Get as much as you can for as many instruments and in as many styles are you can manage. Stack it up by your music stand so it is always within reach when you practice.

Always try to read something every single day

Remember that stack of sheet music you put next to your music stand? Pull out one page from it every single day and read the whole page start to finish. Don’t pick and choose which tune to play. Play the first page in the pile no matter how difficult it looks. Play the whole page one time and put that page in the bottom of the stack. You need to get your eyes and your brain used to looking at as much of this material as possible. Don’t stress on making it sound good. Just read the page and move on.

Understand what ‘sightreading’ is

Sightreading is the ability to read sheet music at performance level at full tempo without having to hear the material beforehand. Think of it like reading a book out loud in a school classroom. If you were asked to read a paragraph from a book you’ve never read before I’m guessing you’d be able to read it fluently and with some natural grace despite never having read that exact paragraph of text before. That is what sight-reading is, except with music. Reading from your big stack of random music every day will help refine your sightreading ability.

Never, ever, ever say ‘I read tabs’

Not to sound flippant, but this is important. Tablature is a handy tool, especially for beginners. Tablature allows us to have fun on our instrument without actually having to read and that is a good thing, in moderation. However, tablature is not ‘Sheet Music’. It has limitations in the way it displays melodic content and has no way to display rhythmic content. For these reasons tablature cannot be sight-read. The faster you get away from looking at it the faster you will become a good reader.

Hopefully these tips will help you get started reading sheet music on your guitar. Remember to take it slow and to practice consistently. Reading a little bit throughout the week is sometimes better than cramming four hours of practice in the night before your lesson. If you focus and set goals your reading skills will improve and you will be a much more valuable musician as a result.

EricJ.Eric J. teaches acoustic guitar, bass guitar, blues guitar and country guitar in Elgin, IL.  He received his Bachelor of Science from Northern Illinois University.   Eric has been educating students for the past twelve years.  Learn more about Eric J. here!

 

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6 Resources for Creating Your Own Sheet Music

Tips On Writing Your Own Sheet MusicAs you develop your musical skills, you may become interested in writing your own music. While learning to play an instrument and being able to play others’ music is a wonderful skill, nothing compares to creating sheet music full of your own compositions!

As a budding songwriter, you’ll need to add some additional skills to your repertoire. Writing music can be as simple as putting a pen to paper, or you can take advantage of the many songwriting tools technology offers. Whether you’re sketching out notes for yourself, writing the next pop hit, or creating sheet music of arrangements for a big band, the most important step is to just get started.

First: Where to Find Free Blank Sheet Music

The easiest method is the oldest! Nothing beats a crisp blank piece of staff paper as you pick up your pen and begin your musical journey. There are many free resources online for printing blank staff paper. Here are two of the best:

This website allows you to print any kind of blank sheet music for free. No matter what instrument you’re writing for, you can find pre-designed sheet music for it here. They offer blank pages set up for piano and keyboard (grand staff), blank guitar tab, bass clef, blank mandolin sheet music, and even sheet music set-up for choir.

Music-paper.com is a site that not only offers more than 100 different downloadable and printable PDFs of blank staff paper, it also offers information on how to write music! Whether you’re looking for paper to jot down your next pop song or orchestral opus, you’ll find it here for free.

Next: Apps & Programs for Writing Music

Technology has changed the way we do almost everything, and writing music is no exception. Today, there are hundreds of applications and programs that can get you started composing on your laptop, desktop, tablet, or smartphone.  They range in price from free to several hundred dollars. Here are some of the best:

MuseScore is a free program that allows you to create, play, and print sheet music. It’s a great alternative to professional notation programs like Sibelius and Finale (see below). Muse Score is available for Mac and Windows along with various open source systems like Linux and Fedora. When you visit the MuseScore website, make sure to take advantage of their online video tutorials to help you get started.

Available for free on the Google Apps store, Music Composer works on your Android smartphone or tablet. It’s an intuitive, easy-to-use application that helps you notate your musical ideas on the go, whenever and wherever inspiration strikes!

It features a notation editor (that supports chords), and easy options to change tempo, clef, key signature, time signature, keys, and instruments. Also, Music Composer comes with 128 instrument sounds built in so you can hear your music played as you write it! When you’re finished composing, you can then export your sheet music as a printable image file or a playable audio file.

Sibelius is the world’s best-selling music notation software used by professional composers, publishers, and advanced music students. It allows you to quickly express and promote your music, allowing you to share both audio and video of your work. It is the fastest, smartest, and easiest way to write music for performance, film, television, or the classroom. It’s a professional tool worth considering if you are serious about composing.

Finale is another professional-level music notation program. Many music programs are drag-and-drop interfaces where you select items from a menu and drop them on the staff, but Finale offers complete freedom and flexibility. It offers extremely realistic playback of your compositions and allows you to print charts and scores.

Finale also offers several lower-priced, upgradable products, including Printmusic (a “lite”version of Finale, at $119.95), which can print up to 24 staves. Another option, Songbook, is a free digital sheet music app for your tablet — great for bringing all of your music to rehearsal on your tablet!

Composing is natural next step as your music skills advances. Whether you take the simplest approach of putting pen to paper, opt for free notation apps, or invest in a professional-level notation program, the key is to just get started! A great way to learn about composition is to work with a qualified teacher. If you already study with one, ask your teacher to help you. He or she can offer insight into the best way to get started and can help you with the learning curve if you choose to use software. Good luck!

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6 Websites for Finding Free Flute Sheet Music

free flute sheet music resources

Looking for free flute sheet music? If you’re a flute player looking for more music to learn, you’re in luck! There are many places to find free flute sheet music on the web. There’s more music out there than you’ll ever have time to explore, ranging from solos to duets to etudes and scales. You can find music in genres from Classical to Pop/Rock, Folk, and Holiday.

Whether you’re looking for your next solo to study or want to practice your sight reading, the six sites below are excellent options for finding free flute sheet music.

Where to Find Free Flute Sheet Music

International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)

The IMSLP database is one of the best places to go for free flute sheet music. If you look at the page of scores featuring the flute, you’ll find thousands of scores available for free. These are classical, public domain works with varying instrumentation. Go to this site for flute solos, duets, trios, sonatas, concertos, and etudes, as well as small and large ensembles including the flute.

This site can be overwhelming since there are so many pieces available. Try out some etudes, including popular ones by Anderson or Gariboldi, or play some duets, including ones by Quantz and Kuhlau. If you’re really into Bach, try out some of the sonatas, partitas, and concertos.

FluteTunes.com

FluteTunes.com posts free flute sheet music for a new song every day. Each piece is labeled by difficulty level from “easy” through “advanced.” The genres represented are mostly classical and folk music from a wide variety of cultures. Instrumentations represented include flute solos, flute duets, flute with piano, flute with organ, flute with strings, and flute with guitar.

MP3 and MIDI tracks allow you to play along with the accompaniment while you learn the song. The site also has pages of flute scales and fingerings.

8notes.com

8notes.com has over 450 free flute sheet music pieces from various genres, including Classical, Rock, Pop, Jazz, Traditional, World, and Film. Songs are labeled by difficulty level from “beginning” through “hard.” Play-along tracks and sheet music accompaniments are available as well.

Fluters Music

Fluters Music is a blog run by a high school flute player who writes out the notes for the melodies of pop songs you hear on the radio. The notes are written as letter names above the lyrics so there’s no need to know how to read music! This is a great site if you’re a beginning flutist and you want to play the pop songs you already know and enjoy.

Herbert Lindholm

Herbert Lindholm has made many of his flute compositions available for free. These include technique studies, flute solos, duets and trios, flute ensembles, and flute with piano or guitar. Most pieces are labeled by difficulty level (1-9) and also include the approximate duration of the piece. You should definitely add this to your list of sites that offer free flute sheet music.

Lark In the Morning

Lark In The Morning has a number of large collections of folk songs from all around the world. Collections of free flute sheet music include folk dance melodies from a variety of countries, including Armenia, Austria, Bolivia, Bosnia, Germany, Greece, and Yugoslavia!

Now that you know the variety of free flute sheet music that is available, enjoy picking some new pieces you’d like to learn. There are a few pieces you may be able to learn on your own, but most will require the help of a teacher. Check out TakeLessons for an experienced flute teacher in your area.

JuliePJulie P. teaches flute, clarinet, music theory, and saxophone lessons in Brooklyn, NY. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Ithaca College and her Masters in Music Performance from New Jersey City University. Learn more about Julie here!

 

 

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4 Awesome Resources for Finding Broadway Sheet Music

Broadway sheet music

Looking for Broadway sheet music to add to your repertoire? Learn where to find all the classics, as well as contemporary hits, in this guest post by Corona, CA teacher Milton J...

 

So, you’re thoroughly enjoying your vocal lessons with your wonderful TakeLessons teacher, and you’re ready to embark on your own to find new music to learn, preferably Broadway musicals (those power vocals of yours need applicable songs, of course!). Where should you start? Well, there are a few really wonderful services to find both computer-based and physical sheet music of some of your favorite Broadway selections. Below is a detailed list of these services.

1. Scribd.com

Scribd is a digital library, featuring an eBook subscription service that includes many free and paid books, magazines, and yes, Broadway sheet music. The service is available for iPhone/iPad, Android, Kindle, Nook, and Windows Phone smartphones and tablets, as well as on the web at Scribd.com, all for a monthly fee of $8.99 (or $3.99 with 12-month commitment). Scribd also offers a completely free one-month trial, which you can use to browse for music first. Use the search parameter “Broadway music” to sort through the different selections that you can save into your library. From there you can save the files to your computer or device, or even print it all out then.

2. Ultimate Theatre Music Resource for Singers

A student of mine came across this well-versed, purely educational-use-only Tumblr blog. Within this blog, links to PDF sources of sheet music, mostly Broadway sheet music, are provided for free. The links are highlighted and underlined within the blog comments itself, so take a look around and read some of the posts to understand how the links to the sheet music are provided.

3. Musicnotes.com

Musicnotes.com is an online marketplace that allows you to purchase and download computer-based sheet music, which you can either keep digital or print out. They offer many selections from Broadway, plus pop, holiday, and power ballads as well! Prices range from $4-$8 depending on the arrangement, which is quite reasonable if monthly subscriptions aren’t your thing.

4. Sheet Music Plus

Sheet Music Plus is another online marketplace that allows you to purchase both digital print and physical print sheet music. They stock both individual selections as well as multiple Broadway selections in songbook form. Since there are usually many songs within the same songbook, this can be a very cost-effective way to get several Broadway standards in your hands at a good price. You can usually find songbooks reserved for certain voice types (Baritone, Tenor, Alto, Soprano 2, or Soprano 1 voice types most commonly).

Honorable Mentions:

  • Excavating the Song: This website was set up by choral director Prof. Neal Richardson from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri, for use with his own students. Even though he has now abandoned the online project, the website’s content–including some great tips from singers, songs from the 20s, and more– is still available for free.
  • IMSLP: The Petrucci Library with the International Music Score Library Project is usually used when searching for classical music, as it’s the archive of music for free public domain music. Since I am a classically-trained singer, I use it a lot and often sing its praises. If you decide to expand your genre scope, start here before you buy any classical music.

I hope this list helps you get started on finding Broadway sheet music for your lessons! Happy practicing!

View all Takelessons.com Free Sheet Music Resources.

MiltonJ Milton J. teaches guitar, piano, singing, music recording, music theory, opera voice, songwriting, speaking voice and acting lessons in Corona, CA. He specializes in classical, R&B, soul, pop, rock, jazz and opera styles. Learn more about Milton here!

 

 

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Beginner Basics Violin

Violin Notes: How to Read Sheet Music for Beginners

Violin Notes: How to Read Sheet Music for BeginnersThe most valuable skill you can develop as a musician is learning to read music. While it’s possible to learn to play “by ear,” reading music opens up the world to you as an artist!

There are many different ways to write music. Guitarists often read off of charts outlining the chord progressions for the song. Drummers have a rhythm chart showing them what to play. As a violinist, however, you’ll most likely be reading off of violin sheet music.

Standard sheet music is filled with directions for the performer, including:

  • Pitch
  • Rhythm – notes, rests, dots, accents, etc.
  • Time signature
  • Key signature – sharps, flats, and natural notes
  • Dynamics
  • Tempo
  • Style markings
  • A clef
  • Navigation markings – repeats, 1st and 2nd endings, etc.

Sheet music will also often include items specific to the particular instrument. For example, violin sheet music may include numbers to signify position on the neck, bow direction markings, and specific markings for vibrato and pizzicato, techniques specific to the violin.

First, let’s look at the basic elements you’ll see on sheet music and then address some of the specific markings you’ll find on violin sheet music.

The Basics: The Staff, Clef, Key Signature, & Time Signature

Music is written on a type of grid that consists of five lines and four spaces, called a staff. Each of these lines and spaces signifies a specific note or pitch.  Music is always read from left to right, and on the left hand side is a symbol called a clef.

Staff Cleff Sheet Music

The clef will clue you in on the names of the notes on that staff, as it’s different for bass and treble clef. The illustration above shows a grand staff that is used in piano music. The top staff shows a G, or treble clef. It’s called the G clef because it somewhat resembles the letter G and the bottom circle surrounds the second line, which is the note G in treble clef.

The bottom staff shows a bass, or F clef. It is known as an F clef not only because it resembles the letter F, but also because the two dots surround the second line from the top, which is the note F in the bass clef.

As a violinist, you will only be dealing with treble clef, so we will look specifically at the notes in that clef.

Key Signature

The key signature is marked directly next to the clef. The key signature consists of markings called sharps and flats, showing which notes are altered in that particular piece of music. A key signature is a universal marking, meaning that if it shows a Bb, then all of the “B” notes in that piece of music should be played as a B flat. This is a form of musical shorthand that is used to make reading music easier.

Time Signature

The time signature is a symbol that defines the number of beats per measure, and what type of note gets a beat.  Here are some examples:

sheet music time signature

The top number in the time signature signifies how many beats are in each measure. The bottom number shows what type of note receives a beat.  For example, in 4/4 time there are four beats per measure and a 1/4 (quarter) note gets one beat. 4/4 is also known as common time and may be represented by the letter “C”.

Now that we’ve explored the basics of the staff, let’s look at musical notation.

Pitch, Ledger Lines, and Duration

Violin sheet music uses the treble clef, so let’s look at the basic note names in the treble clef. The musical alphabet consists of only seven notes: A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. Along with sharps and flats, these seven note names make up the entire musical alphabet.

violin notes sheet music

There is an easy way to remember the note names on the staff using one word and a simple sentence. From the bottom line to the top line, the lined notes are: E, G, B, D, and F.  Remember the sentence “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge,” and you’ll never forget the note names on the lines! The spaces spell out the word FACE – F, A, C, and E.

Ledger Lines

Because music has more than nine notes, ledger lines are used to extend the range of the staff. They can appear both above and below the lines of the staff.

violin ledger lines

The note names continue using the musical alphabet. The top line of the staff is F, and the note sitting on the top line is G. Add a ledger line above the staff for the note A, and the note on top of that ledger line is B. The note pictured above is C and so on.

Note Durations

Musical symbols are used to denote the duration, or how many beats to hold each note. The following chart shows the most common note durations in 4/4 time.

violin notes duration

Once you master these basics, you’ll be able to read and play everything from Mozart to Metallica! There are other symbols that you will learn as you study reading music, including volume markings, articulation markings, and tempo markings. But understanding these basic concepts are the first steps to achieving mastery in reading music.

Related: Free Sheet Music Resources

Specific Markings on Violin Sheet Music

Because of the nature of the instrument, violinists will see some additional markings on violin sheet music that are specific to the instrument. Often, violin sheet music will include position markings. These signify when you move your hand up and down the neck of the violin to play different notes. They are usually shown as a Roman numeral beneath the note; for example, first position is I, second position is II, and so on.

Violin is an expressive instrument and often composers will incorporate this in their music. You may see the symbol “Vibr” under the notes of a section. This is shorthand for vibrato, which is a technique of moving your finger to get a pulsing sound when playing a note.

Because violin is played using a bow, there are specific symbols used in violin sheet music to signify if a note or series of notes should be played by bowing the instrument in an upward direction, or with a downward motion. Up-bows are marked using this symbol: >. A down-bow is shown as a partial rectangle open at the bottom.

Want to put your violin sheet music knowledge to the test? Take a look at some of these violin songs for beginners, and see if you can make sense of the sheet music!

The best way to learn how to read music, of course, is to study with a qualified violin teacher. While the basic concepts shown in this article can be learned independently, a teacher will help you refine and master the fine points of reading music. Learning to read music well will make your study much more rewarding and enjoyable.

drum sheet music

The Ultimate Guide to Drum Sheet Music

The Ultimate Guide to Drum Sheet MusicThink drummers don’t need to read music? Think again! Drum sheet music is a great way to learn your favorite beats and write things out so you will remember them later.

Drum sheet music is written on the same five line staff as traditional music. At the beginning of the piece, you’ll see the time signature. Written like a fraction (4/4 or 7/8, for example), the time signature lets you know how many beats to play in each measure and what the rhythm should be. You should also see the number of beats per minute above the staff, near the time signature. The beats per minute lets you know how quickly or slowly to play the beat. Read more