In this article we are going to explore the best site for piano sheet music. But first a little history on the topic of sheet music:
A very important tool in playing the piano is the sheet music. It provides you with music notation that tells you precisely how to play a piece through the use of the staff, clefs, time signatures, piano notes, accidentals, and dynamic markings. Think of it as an instruction pamphlet given to players on how to assemble a piece so that you may play it as accurately as possible.
The history of sheet music dates back to the 15th century with western music being written onto manuscripts that are bound into volumes. These manuscripts were used until the 18th century despite the development of printed musical scores. With the spread of printing, music sheets were able to spread faster and to a wider range of people. However, there were limitations to this such as the cost of printing. Another limitation for printed sheet music during this time was the issue of whether one had special rights to print music scores. This right was typically granted by monarchs as an honor to court musicians.
However, by the 19th century, printed sheet music was dominating the industry and replacing handwritten ones. The music sheet eventually lost its dominance during the early part of the 20th century, thanks to the prominence of the phonograph, recorded music, and the radio. Eventually, the record industry took the lead in the musical field, thus replacing music sheet publishers.
By the 20th and 21st centuries, the emergence of modern technology signified the beginning of computer-friendly and downloadable versions of music sheets. In 1998, Digital Sheet Music was created, which allowed for the online publishing and procurement of sheet music. This made editing and improvement of the music score much easier. Music notation software was also developed. This made the creation of score sheets more efficient and accessible.
So, what are the different key elements of piano sheet music?
Related: Interested in some free sheet music to try out? Check out my post on beginners piano sheet music PDF.
The musical staff is the foundation of a musical notation and consists of five lines where clefs are placed. The spaces and lines represent different notes.
The clefs consist of two main types: the treble and the base. After the clefs, we have the notes with five main types: the whole note, half note, quarter note, eighth note, and sixteenth note.
Additional information regarding the notes is then provided by the accidentals, which are the sharp, flat, double sharp, double flat, and the natural.
The musical notation also deals with the duration of a piece by showing the time signature and tempo.
Finally, there are the dynamic markings. These are instructions on how a piece should be played such as how loud or how soft the music should be.
Fun Trivia: Did you know that a piano has more than 12,000 parts, with 10,000 moving, which makes the process of tuning it an intricate process?
Since modern technology came around, sheet music was typically handwritten or printed on a piece of paper. However, as the internet flourished, sheet music can now be accessed through digital means with some websites even offering it for free. Whatever it is that you may want to play on the piano, there is a big chance that it is just one Google search away. Here, we will list the best site for piano sheet music that you can check out.
IMSLP, or the International Music Score Library Project / Petrucci Music Library, offers one of the best and widest selections of music scores online. It is a library of public domain music, which means that there are no copyright infringement issues with the music sheets that you will find on this site. Their database offers hundreds of thousands of musical scores and thousands of composers and recordings, which can be accessed in 28 languages, making it ideal for both beginners and experts alike. IMSLP can be accessed for free, but they do offer subscription services at $2.99 per month.
While not as expansive as IMSLP, Musopen offers a pretty decent library of public domain sheet music and recordings. They are also known to have a streaming radio station as well as an education feature that focuses on different instruments, music apps, and miscellaneous topics such as music theory. You can access their site for free (with five free downloads) or through a subscription with a fee of $55 per year.
8Notes offers music sheets and music lessons and has an extensive set of offerings. They organize their sheet music by instrument, from the mandolin to the piano to recordings, and each section is further divided according to the genre. Lessons and the music used are also divided according to difficulty level, making it a great tool for teachers as well. Access to the site’s resources is mostly free. However, if you want to have more options and perks, you can pay a rate of $20 per year to subscribe to their other services.
Remark: As of 03/12/2022 I removed their link: http://www.mutopiaproject.org/ because their site hasn’t been responding.
Mutopia, or the Mutopia Project, is a free sheet music site and operates on an open license which means that anyone who accesses the information on their site can do whatever they want with it. While their database is not as extensive (with only around 2,000 available scores), they do offer sheets from varied genres and periods.
MuseScore is not just a site but also a software made for the creation and sharing of musical scores. If you want a more diverse collection, this site is for you since users can share their pieces and gives you a community of individuals interested in the process of creating musical arrangements. You can support other users by adding their scores on your “favorites”. Their program is available for iOS, Android, and Microsoft and can be accessed for free. MuseScore also offers tools such as a metronome, a virtual piano keyboard, etc. on their site. However, some of these features can only be accessed through their Pro Membership, which costs $49 a year.
Free Scores has a large database of sheet music for a wide variety of instruments, composers, and genres with around 100,000 sheet scores that can be accessed for free. They also have a good selection of choir music. The pieces found on this site include a historical background of the piece as well as a recording to help users familiarize themselves with the music.
Making Music Fun is ideal for beginners since they help novices learn their instrument of choice through a step-by-step process. Aside from a wide range of sheet music (from the easiest to the more complex ones), Making Music Fun offers study guides, worksheets about music theory, lesson plans, different resources, etc.This site can be used by teachers looking for materials as well as students who want to study on their own. Music scores are divided into beginner, easy, and intermediate pieces. You can access some of their features for free but they do offer subscription membership plans for $18 per month for their basic plan and $149 per year for their premium plan.
MusicNotes started 20 years ago and is one of the first sites to present music sheets in digital form. Their library is quite extensive with around 300,000 available music scores from ancient music to more modern and popular tunes available for their users. These sheets are arranged, transferred, and checked by professional musicians and are accessible to iOS, Android, and Microsoft users. However, not all of their features are offered for free. They have two subscription plans, $7.99 per year and $9.99 per year, which gives you unlimited access to their app features, discounts, and free transposition for the songs that you buy.
This site mainly focuses on musical sheets for pianists or piano students. However, they mainly make use of modern pop and rock music instead of your typical classical music. This makes playing the piano feel a bit more vibrant and up to date. Musical sheets are accessed as PDF files and can be downloaded for free. Piano music sheets are updated regularly, so if you are looking for any pop or rock song to play on the piano, they probably have it in their database.
If you want to play the piano for choir music, ChoralWiki might just be the right site for you. They offer an extensive list of music sheets for choir music that you can use. They are a public domain, which means that everything on their site can be used and accessed for free.
Learning how to play the piano is an exciting endeavor that can be done easily by people of all ages. To do this, however, it is necessary to have a guide as you go through each musical piece. This is where piano music sheets come into the picture. Thanks to modern technology, access to a wider range of music scores is now available from the best website for piano sheet music and it is just a Google search away. This gives you more reasons to try out this fulfilling hobby!