In Print

Mike Lawson • Archives • October 9, 2009

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There are many factors to consider when selecting and purchasing music for school ensembles. As if finding interesting music with the right difficulty level and instrumentation weren’t enough to think about, there are also different forms of media to consider paper, CDs, digital files and, of course, the specter of shrinking budgets doesn’t make the process any easier.

With those concerns in mind, this SBO reader survey takes stock of print music trends, educator purchasing habits, and even a few gripes about music publishers.

How much money do you have to spend on music this year?

How much money do you have to spend on music this year?

“Our district provides no money for sheet music. All of out music budget is supplied by the Music Boosters.”

John Mueller
Incline Middle School
Incline Village, Nev.

“My budget is $3,200.00 and I plan to spend about $500 on printed music (concert band, jazz band, solos, and ensembles).”

Madeline Elmhirst,
Robbinsdale Middle School,
Robbinsdale, Minn.

Which of the following do you purchase?

Which of the following do you purchase?

For which genres do you plan to buy new music?

For which genres do you plan to buy new music?

What is the best source for finding new music?

What is the best source for finding new music?

“I buy most of my music after listening to sample recordings sent by music publishers.”

John Dzubay
Stewartville Middle School
Stewartville, Minn.

What are the best new trends in music publishing?

“Downloadable sheet music is fantastic. The ability to discover a new work and then have it in front of your band that same day is a wonderful tool.”

Larry Petersen
Huron High School
Huron, South Dakota

“I find that the new music is much easier to read and there seem to be fewer mistakes in the arrangements (missing parts, printing errors, et cetera).”

Mel Byron
Waterford-Halfmoon High School
Waterford, N.Y.

“More serious music is being written at appropriate levels for smaller bands. Not every band has 250 members and can play grade 4.5-5 music.”

Ben Harper
Humboldt High School
Humboldt, Iowa

“I’ve noticed some publishers are catering to smaller bands with limited instrumentation by creating music with more doubled parts (or alternate doublings). While there has been an increase over the last couple of years in the availability of music for smaller bands, I still feel there is a limited amount of such music available.”

Dennis J. Brooks
Council Grove High School
Council Grove, Kan.

“I’ve seen more serious composers writing for the educational market and more of the historically famous masterworks are receiving educational treatment.”

Tim Mika
Summer Creek High School
Houston, Texas

“The ‘download and print’ option in publishing has been a good addition, but it can sometimes be a headache to get parts to look the way you want them to.”

David Bean
Morrison High School
Morrison, Ill.

Is there anything you think publishers should be doing differently?

“Pre-numbered measures. With today’s computer programs, there is no excuse for selling music without measure numbers on scores and parts.”

John R. Black
Dan F. Long Middle School
Carrollton, Texas

“As soon as possible, get titles (with assessment) on SmartMusic. SmartMusic assessment is one way music programs can qualify for stimulus dollars.”

Simon Austin
Burroughs High School
Ridgecrest, Calif.

“Publishers should allow photocopying for the sake of preserving what you have already purchased. Junior high students are not very careful with their things and many pieces of music are too large to fit in a standard notebook or binder, making them easier to damage.”

Sarah Carpenter
Turlock Jr. High
Turlock, Calif.

“Yes, stop taking things out of print so quickly. If it is good enough to publish it should be good enough to keep around a while. At least parts should be available.”

Chris DeMarco
Cuyahoga Falls City Schools
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

Additional thoughts on print music?

“It is difficult to abide by copyright laws because it is so difficult to get individual parts from publishers. If you are missing one part, you, oftentimes, have to order the entire set just to be able to get that one part.”

Salvatore Terrasi
Shorewood High School
Shorewood, Wis.

“Given that budgets are shrinking and that the price of printed music as well as instruments, repair and transportation are increasing, my budget will soon be unable to afford to purchase more than one or two copies of new music per year. It will be interesting to see the overall impact of the economy on these publishing companies this year.”

John New
Mattacheese Middle School
West Yarmouth, Mass.

“The overall quality of music has seemed like it is diminishing. The pieces seem either more ‘pop’ flavored (here today gone tomorrow), or they sound a lot alike.”

Dale Sellers
Donegal High School
Mount Joy, Pa.

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