Monday Mailbag – Finding Music

You seem to have plentiful sources of repertoire at your fingertips.  I am having a hard time finding good supplemental music for my small, beginning studio.  The closest music store is about an hour away, so I rely heavily on internet searching and shopping.  However, I find it difficult to know the level of the piece I’m considering and would especially like to “see” part of the piece to judge its appropriateness and sound.  Do you have any websites that you think do a good job of making this information available and clear?  I am most immediately interested in Christmas sheet music at the elementary level.  Any suggestions?

Yes, I have managed to accumulate a large collection of printed music over the years. My first rule now when I need a new piece for a student is that I have to go “shopping” through my own books before I can go to the store. 🙂 We actually have two fabulous music stores in our area, so I do have the opportunity to play through lots of music before I purchase it, but here are a few suggestions for those who don’t have easy access to music stores:

1. Subscribe to a New Release Club for music teachers to get a nice selection of new books at a discounted price. (Additionally, if you get on the list for some of these publishers, periodically throughout the year you will receive a sampler, often accompanied with a CD.)

2.Visit the publisher websites. I’ve noticed that Hal Leonard in particular has developed a very user-friendly site that allows you to view and listen to samples from many of their books.

3. Attend national conferences. I’ve attended both the Music Teachers National Association conference and the National Center for Keyboard Pedagogy conference, and in both cases came home with enough free music to more than cover the registration fee. Publisher showcases at these conferences are a great way to listen to composers discuss and play their own music.

4. Use on-line databases. If you’re looking for good Classical repertoire, the PianoWorks website is a great resource! The 20th Century Intermediate Piano Literature database may also be helpful.

5. Get together with other music teachers and have everyone play some of their (and their students!) favorite pieces. We’ve done this on a number of occasions with our local associations and I always come away with some new ideas. (Here’s a link to a Student Saver Pieces handout I put together for a workshop I did at one of our meetings.)

6. Subscribe to a music teacher magazine. I enjoy receiving the Clavier Companion (combination of the former Keyboard Companion and Clavier). I read through it, underlining and making notes and bookmarking pages for future reference – both teaching ideas and insights, and repertoire suggestions.

These are a few general ideas about finding music. Tomorrow I’ll specifically address Christmas music. If anyone has other suggestions for finding appropriate music when you don’t have access to a music store, please do share!

Remember, if you have a question you’d like to contribute to next week’s Monday Mailbag, leave it in the comments below or send me an e-mail sometime this week with Monday Mailbag in the subject line!

Share and enjoy!

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