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Free Piano Music is a Double-Edged Sword - Articles Surfing

'Hey, while you're here, here's some old free piano music that I've had in my basement for the last few millennium. Take it. Have fun!'

Oh boy, that's certainly an offer that I'm more than used to accepting. I guess you never know if you're going to come upon a rare score that you and the top musicologists in the world have never seen before. In the back of my mind, and with a lot of suspension of disbelief, there's this peculiar hope that I'll find that rare score, which would mean retirement, secured investments for the future, and a primary worry consisting of where your next extremely decadent vacation would be.

Well, I haven't hit the jackpot yet. What I have done is produced a blue bin with an enormous appetite. It's almost as if my blue box is throwing verbal abuse at me the second I haven't given it its weekly gorging of junk music.

Truth be told, rare scores are indeed named appropriately. They're few and far between. On top of that, music books, like comic books, have to be in near mint or mint condition in order to be an acceptable item for a dealer to consider purchasing it from you. The best condition hand-me-down music that I've come across over the years has been in fairly good shape, certainly acceptable for piano readings and practice.

Another type of free music is, of course, arrangements through download. As a music teacher, I cannot control what my students do and don't do on their personal computers. I've seen many pupils bring in arrangements from all styles and eras for my stamp of approval. Many times the works online are not arranged well. They often lack dynamics, phrasing and common sense.

Common sense? Now what on earth do I mean by that? I'll tell you exactly what I mean. When I'm reading bass clef notes that have enough ledger lines to make me want to go to the eye doctor for a prescription change (and a stigmatism checkup), then we have on our hands what I had previously termed as a score with a lack of common sense.

These scores are often generated from midi files. I don't even want to start talking about the copyright legalities of such scores. Suffice to say, I like to stay clear of this type of music, for legal and optical health reasons.

Some free music is advantageous. Scores from the classical era and thereabouts are slowly being offered for free to the general public. I'm still a fan of a decent, store-bought book, but at least this type of free music has copyright clearance and some effort, in terms of decent editing and music spacing.

Of course, the best type of free piano music is the type that you pick up by ear. A well trained ear and some improvising skills will ultimately save you hundreds of dollars in music purchases. You know what? Sheet music is expensive. Let's revise that and say that a good ear potentially saves a pianist thousands of dollars.

So what's to be learned from all of this? Well, as we all know, words of wisdom stand the test of time, so remember that you do indeed 'get what you pay for' in terms of original music and score arrangements. Also, playing and figuring out music by ear is extremely economical. Start bothering your piano teacher for ear-training lessons. Theory lessons would be a worthwhile investment as well. Let the savings begin!

Submitted by:

Daniel E. Friedman

Come and join Daniel E. Friedman at www.musicmasterstudios.com for assistance in music education and comprehension.



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