It can be nice to have access to more music sheets than you can afford to buy. Use this little guide to help you understand how to find free sheet music on the web!
What shall you search for?
It will be easier for you to figure out what search terms you should use to find the right pages if you know how the free sheet music is distributed on the Internet.
As you can not distribute paper copies directly on the Internet to a computer you have to find a file format to use that is easy to download, open and printout. Here are just three common formats:
Some music sheets you will find on the various music web sites uses the The Graphics Interchange Format (GIF). GIF is a bitmap image format that of course is used a lot for color images, animations and logos. However, it can also be used for sheet music but it is usually low quality sheets.
Anyway, as long as you can see the music notes I guess they are okay to use! The advantage with this type of files is that the file size usually is quite small and your computer probably can open the files without additional software.
Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF) are widely used for presenting information with a fixed layout. It is also very convenient to use for sheet music publication as you have full control over the score layout.
To open these files you need some type of software that reads pdf files like Adobe Reader or other free pdf software that you can find on the web. Adobe Reader can be downloaded for free from Adobe's web site.
The advantage with PDF sheet music is that you will get high quality printouts. Some sites only allow you to printout their PDF sheets if you subscribe to their newsletter or create a free account on their site but you will also find sites with free access to these files.
If you write music using notation software you can download PDF creation software for free on the net or buy cheap software for this purpose. Adobe Acrobat of course also provides software to create PDF files but these products are a bit expensive for the average composer.
The Scorch plugin lets you listen to the sheet music as you follow the scores on the computer. You can also download the file, printout the music and also transpose the score. This plugin is used by composers to upload their compositions and arrangements made by the notation software Sibelius.
Scorch is quite common at sheet music websites and on Sibeliusmusic you will find a huge collection of sheet music, both free and commercial.
One obvious search term to use to find freely accessible sheets is of course "free sheet music". If you are searching for a specific instrument you can include it in the search term. Other words you can include are "scorch", "pdf", "music sheets", "printable". You will get different search results depending on how you put the words.
Some good sites are in other languages so you can try to translate search terms to find more quality sites.
Sorry to say, the best sites for you might not be found on the first search result pages. These can for various reasons be far down the list so you have to be a little patient. When you find sites that are both good and free you can bookmark them and you will have access to an increasing list of good free sheet music!