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The world of Music scores/sheets can be hella confusing: you know, when you search for a song and you find like 20 versions of that song, and then you read the reviews (when there are reviews, actually) and even the best rated one has that person that says that “this music sheet is awful” and you are even more confused.
Or maybe you want a kind-of-official transcription of a piece, that is usually paid, but also want to save money: for this there are membership sites where you can download lots of sheets and/or get a big discount on some pieces.
But now let’s jump to our list of sites, both free or paid!
Best music sheets site for classical musicians and conservatory/music schools: VirtualSheetMusic
VirtualSheetMusic is a membership site that allow you to find a huge collection of sheets (in fact it has been around since 1999!) and features a lot of genres as well, but in my opinion the area where it shines is classical music section: from ensemble music to violin, classical guitar, piano, voice music scores and flute (and many other strings and woodwinds instruments), just to name a few of the many instruments covered.Virtual Sheet Music® | Classical Sheet Music Downloads® and more
Some of the people that might benefit the most from this type of subscription-based model are:
- Professional musicians that need scores in a easily portable format;
- Music schools and conservatories that needs high volumes of musical sheets;
- Musical instrument teachers overall;
- Music directors and orchestras/ensembles
Beyond the high number of instruments there also is a high number of genres available, as you can see from the following wide list:
A Cappella (1460)
Light Concert (448)
New Age (1164)
R & B (3680)
The instruments covered (with the number of music sheets for that particular musical instrument) are also:
Alto (voice) (8772)
Alto Flute (23)
Alto Saxophone (8667)
Baritone (voice) (3)
Baritone Saxophone (5960)
Bass (voice) (7812)
Bass Clarinet (5113)
Bass Flute (1019)
Bass Guitar (1498)
Clarinet in B flat (10543)
Clarinet in E flat (350)
English Horn (117)
Euphonium in B flat (414)
Oboe d’ Amore (3)
Other Instruments (20842)
Soprano (voice) (8786)
Soprano Saxophone (527)
Tenor (voice) (6290)
Tenor Saxophone (8106)
Tuba in C (4159)
Tuba in E flat (Sousaphone) (373)
The main features of Virtual Music Sheet membership are:
- A total of over 2500 titles, consisting in more than 10.000 overall pieces that are downloadable and/or also available as PDF how many times you want with a subscription;
- You can also find exclusive arrangements that are only available within the member area;
- There are over 45000 MIDI and MP3 files for the tracks as well as MP3 accompaniment files for many of the pieces;
- Online interactive music with a real-time transposition features, playback and other interactive stuff included, for example you can change tempo, transpose and change the instrument too;
- Discounts for external resources (up to 70%), for example for copyrighted digital sheets from Alfred (some with training videos included), Hal Leonard (with interactive features for some pieces too) or also Schott Music, and even piano accompaniment videos and discounts for physical external musical items;
- They also plant 10 trees for every new membership subscriber
Where to Find Guitar and Bass Tabs: Ultimate Guitar
Ultimate Guitar is one of (if not THE) most famous sites for tabs: here you can find not only almost all the songs that are somewhat famous for acoustic and electric guitar (but also bass and for drums too for some songs), but you can also find more versions of a song (well that’s not always a good thing as you have to check a good version, but at least there are the reviews of other players that can help us).
There are also different categories within the versions of a song: from the chord-only sheets (that have the chords to strum added above the song’s lyrics) to the actual tabs and also official tabs (that are not free and come with the paid version of Ultimate Guitar membership)
Another interesting feature that has been there since last year is the “shots” section, that is basically a TikTok (or Instagram Reels) for showing your playing and show your personal progress.
Other cool features are also the button that lets you hear the song on the same page of the tabs and also use the autoscroll while you play, and (for the paid users) the backing track options, the possibility to export to PDF files, and see the pro tabs (with loop, slow down feature and other more interactive options) and the official version tabs made by Ultimate Guitar guitarists.
Where to Find Guitar and Bass Tabs (again): Songsterr
Songsterr is another very good website for tabs (you can find guitar, bass and drums too on this website) but instead of having multiple versions for each song here you have a single tab for every song.
This can result in a more “clean” and easy navigation for lots of users, and after all Songsterr is very popular so it definitely meets the taste of many musicians online.
On every tab you can have the MIDI track playing in the background, and you can also use the Playback feature for free; however, the many features that make this a more interactive practice are only for paid users.
Buying the pro version you can have:
- Official audio for the songs;
- The option for printing your tabs and keep your printed sheets with you;
- The Tempo Control features (great for slowing the song track if you want to practice a specific section or a solo, as going slow is definitely a great way to learn a new song, especially if it has fast sections too);
- A Loop option;
- A Solo mode option (for practice);
- A Pitch Shift option;
- An Ad-Free Website.
Subscription is 9.99$ at the moment, so it’s not a very expensive thing considering the huge amount of tabs and the many additional features.
Overall, the clean interface of Songsterr website and the MIDI tracks available for free can be good enough for the majority of the music players if they search for sheets, unless they want to print those as well, while the paid features are a good addon, especially considering that if you want to play along to a song you have to keep a separate Youtube tab open with the song playing (while Ultimate Guitar had a button for playing the Youtube video song on the tab page itself).
Public Domain Music Sheets: the IMSLP Library
The IMSLP website (also called Petrucci Music Library) is a massive library of public domain classical pieces, some even “screenshotted” versions of the original sheets.
On the website you can find:
- 215,840 works;
- 26,267 composers;
- 1,960 performers
- 704,945 scores
For some pieces, though, you can find them in the original language, so it might be a bit less “user-friendly”, and also not all pieces are there because of the nature of this online library that only hosts public domain music pieces.
Plus, as this hosts the original compositions, it might be more limited in the range of covered instruments and also exclude transcriptions (that also comes with their copyright, so a public domain piece transcribed to another different musical instrument comes with its own “new” copyright usage type, and for this reason it might not be in the IMSLP web library).
The search can be filtered by authors, instrument difficulty, nationality, time period and instrumentation and genre too.
Overall, this is a great online resource that can help lots of people thanks to its massive amount of different pieces from lots of composers and periods, and it’s also free (you can still offer a voluntary tip for the website maintenance if you want, as you will see when downloading the materials from this website’s download section).
As for the vast majority of things, music learning and practice has shifted to the digital and internet world for lots of people, and for what concerns the music sheets area for pro musicians, conservatory/music schools, teacher/orchestras or simply new learners, one of the main advantages is the big portability and generally gig-friendly nature of digital files, especially considering that nowadays almost everyone has a device that can read those files.
As for most things, “analogic” music scores and digital files have both their pros and cons obviously, but having the possibility to choose between those two options is definitely a great quality boost for many.
No matter what you choose though, as long as it help us keep playing everywhere!
- Learn Piano as a beginner: PianoforAll Review;
- Best online singing lessons for beginners: a Singorama 2.0 review article;
- Why learning music online lessons and courses