I often get questions about finding sheet music, especially popular songs. Here are a few places and sites that I go to again and again.
- Second hand–I scour garage sales, yard sales, thrift and consignment stores, used book stores, and rummage sales to find music. Most of this is in book form, though I have scored a couple boxes of individual sheet music dating back to the early 1900s. In one of these boxes was the original version of “Chopsticks” which I have framed in my studio. It has this huge stride part for the left hand (large movements between low bass notes and chords around middle C), which cracks me up since most of us have played it with 2 fingers all of our lives. Go figure. Second hand acquisition does not often yield “modern” music, but I have found some great compilations of classical music and a few gems from the early 1900s, and I’ve even added to my library of method and instruction books. Buying second-hand has also saved me a lot of money.
- Local music store. My local store, Candyman Strings & Things in Santa Fe, has a decent selection of songs and songbooks from a wide variety of genres. Be aware that your local store may not be a store at all. One of the best sources of sheet music in Los Alamos is a guy who keeps a catalog of sheet music at his home. My next favorite source is MusicMart in Albuquerque, which is amazing if you are looking for classical materials, and pretty good for jazz. Look around and you can probably find a lot of what you need close to home in an actual store. You will also get an actual person to talk to who probably knows something about music.
- For books and lined paper, I also use sheetmusicplus. They have a huge selection, though navigating their site has a bit of a learning curve. They keep a record of what you order, so it’s easy to re-order if the need arises. They also offer teacher and “volume” discounts (2+ of a single title) which saves a bit of money if you buy in volume (like I often do).
- For individual tunes–especially modern tunes that I might not be familiar with–I like musicnotes. They have just about every song you could imagine, and offer songs in various formats from Easy Piano to Piano/Vocal/Guitar to Guitar Tab to Lead Sheets. I usually find what I’m looking for there, and most tunes run $5 or so. Email me if you decide to use this site, though, as there are a few tricks I can share, especially with respect to printing.
- Used on Amazon. The online retail giant Amazon doesn’t need a plug from me to stay afloat, but I mention them here because I’ve scored a couple great deals on used books through their Marketplace. However, I exhaust my local options before I try my luck on Amazon. Our local music stores are where we go for a last minute set of strings or to get an instrument worked on, so it behooves us to keep them around. Their lights don’t stay on if we spend our money elsewhere.
In a future post, I’m going to give you some tips on how to avoid having to spend money on sheet music altogether. That comes when you learn to transcribe a tune from a recording.
Happy music making!