Requesting sheet music

I get requests for sheet music I have composed, arranged, played, or simply acquired. I usually don’t know how to answer these requests. Why?

1) I don’t have the requested sheet music at my finger tips. It’s not like I can just click on the e-mail address of the person who requested, open my mail, type a few polite words, attach the PDF of the score, and press . It’s far more complicated. I have to locate that PDF first.

2) The requested sheet music is not in a format that I can easily attach to an e-mail and send off. It could still be in Sibelius. I’d have to open Sibelius and print as a PDF, and repeat step 1 above. It could be a physical printout or hard copy. I’d have to scan it. Open it in Adobe Professional or other high-end software to check that it’s been properly scanned and repeat step 1 above.

3) The requested sheet music is not for me to share or send. Perhaps I bought it. Perhaps I borrowed it. Perhaps it was dedicated to me.

4) The requested sheet music is incomplete. I may not have all of it.

5) The requested sheet music is not what I have but I’d have to do work to what I have to make it available. For instance, it could be in a different key.

6) I don’t have the time to do any of the above. Of course, I even get requests to pay for the music I have. While it may be a motivator, I still have to make a conscious effort to set a price, get payment, and do one of the above. It’s much easier to say,”please order one of my solo piano CDs or my piano guitar duo CDs from CDBABY and let me know you have done so and then I will happily e-mail you what you want.” For some reason, people never respond to my request. They probably think “but I don’t want a CD much less pay for it. I want that piece of sheet music!”

7) Once upon a time, I have dutifully responded to requests positively and e-mailed the requested sheet music. I have stopped doing so because I usually don’t get a thank you, feedback, or any sort of follow-up or reciprocation.

8) When there is a piece of music I really want, it’s usually something I want instantly. That’s when, out of desperation, I too will email to request for the piece of music. And usually I get dead silence. Perhaps the person who has what I want is also struggling with one of the above.

9) One of my students asked me to find the score for “Lean on Me.” I did a little search and found no free sheet music that’s really easy to play. So guess what? I arranged it for his level. Now, maybe there is a value proposition in customizing music to suit a person’s level.


Author: BLOGmaiden

As one of the earliest bloggers (since 1999), I enjoy meeting people who embrace "out-of-the-box" thinking and fear not the unknown. I believe in collaboration for sustainability because it increases stakeholder value.

4 thoughts on “Requesting sheet music”

  1. Interesting topic.

    I do too get often requests for arrangements that I made or scores / books I published in the past. Over time it made me realize a few things:

    1) The convenience of spreading data fast to a large amount of people by simply clicking ‘send’ also raises the question: do I give credit to the person who really deserves it? (and I’m not only talking money here). It seems for many, the goal is simply to get the music.

    2) being a doctoral student made me realize that the percentage of scores you get in your hand throughout your education (and for that matter even in your lifetime as a musician) is I’m sure not even 1% of the music available.
    As a performer, the amount of music you actively perform in a lifetime is perhaps AT MOST 10 hours of repertoire (and that’s already a lot). Try buying 10 hours worth of music in scores, and I’m pretty sure you’ll be amazed how little money that is to be spend spread out in a lifetime, having all the joy and fulfillment of it for hours, days, years…

    Having said this, I also am guilty of requesting scores and arrangements of musicians / composers in the past. Often the responses I got were very positive: either they gave me the score or they referred me to the person / company where I could order it from.

    Many years later I realize that some things are just not as easy to share with a person you don’t really know. Especially if you’ve invested valuable time in your creation and have no idea what’s going to happen with it. Ever since this realization I’ve been more carefully selecting the scores / books that I want to invest time in. As mentioned before, we can only handle such a small part of what’s all out there. Ask yourself the question if that particular part of it is worth your time (yes you have to luxury to be very critical to make your selection). And if it is, please give credit to the ones that deserve it! (even when you don’t have to pay for it)

    1. Thank you for responding to my blog, Sam. Very good to see your point of view. Have you participated in the file-sharing websites, where you get to exchange your works with those who possess works you want?

  2. Although the idea sounds tempting, as stated before, I wish to support the people who made effort in the creative process rather then collecting without even thinking about it. When it comes to exchange in a legal way, then perhaps I’d be more interested. However, most people that publish their work are doing it for professional reasons. Like me, publishing / selling is only part of many sources of income as a musician. Those sources of income aren’t endless for a musician and exchanging works isn’t one of them.

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