Finding new sheet music is one of the best ways to practice your piano skill. It increases your range of flexibility and ensures that you can play more than just what you’re familiar with. Unfortunately, finding free sheet music can be tough. Here are some tips for ferreting out the best free stuff online.
You can check out public archives and music whose copyright has expired. Public projects funded by grants from the Library of Congress and other culturally-relevant sources often share sheet music for free online. Of course, the majority of these are well-known classical compositions, but you can also find some more obscure jazz, blues and early country pieces by famous composers from all throughout history. Local library websites also support free sheet music online, making them good places to begin your search.
Remember, you’ll have the most luck if you search by composer, making sure that your composers of choice weren’t recently active. The more prolific the composer, the more likely it is that you’ll find one of their free pieces. As a general rule of thumb, start by looking for music from the 1940s and earlier. Although this may not be the type of style you want to play for yourself, the fact of the matter is that many more recent styles build on these early foundation pieces.
Of course, you may be looking for piano sheet music in a certain specific genre. In that case, you still have to regard recent copyrights, but if you learn your history, you can work around them. Say you want to play some MPB, or Musica Popular Brasil, a pop genre that was at its heyday in Brazil in the 1960s. If you know that the genre borrowed heavily from early Bossa Nova, you’ll have an easier time finding sheet music for free online. Although you didn’t find exactly what you were looking for, you’ll have mastered some of the fundamentals that let you work your way up to it in your own private practice.
Finally, never discount blogs and private sites run by music enthusiasts. Forums and other community-run portals often host a treasure trove of useful download links and printable sheet music PDFs. The same goes for some universities, whose music department professors regularly post sheet music from their courses online.