Over the past decade, the development of the Internet has radically changed the availability and presentation of piano music. A simple search on the Internet allows you to find many free sheet music downloads as well as audio recordings of piano works.
As a result, the old-fashioned publication of sheet music began to recede into the background, giving way to Internet documents – image files, .pdf files, e-books, and other formats. Like many technological changes, this is neither good nor bad. It’s just different. Conscious adult pianists of today should have a basic knowledge of the current state of sheet music publishing and its evolution.
If we look at our habits as consumers, we find that most of us tend to look for the cheapest and easiest options whenever possible. These days, when you can download piano music for free on the Internet, why pay for sheet music?
Many more people keep old music stands than you might think. And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. Some people just aren’t cut out for the Internet and probably never will be. Besides, what adult pianist doesn’t enjoy the sight and touch of a complete and thick collection of piano works by Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, or Rachmaninoff? Most modern pianists learned to play from such books, and most of them still own tons of these old, battered and crumpled collections. Until recently, these books were the livelihood of the piano world, which is no longer relevant with the advent of print.
The decline in the popularity of these books has certainly missed something. The complete edition of Beethoven’s piano works, for example, contains works that even the most ardent Beethoven fan does not know. On the contrary: for many years, since the advent of the Internet, only the most popular works by the most famous composers have been available on the Internet. Speaking of Beethoven: “Fur Elise” and the “Moonlight Sonata” are easy to find on many websites, but what about such obscure works as the “Piano Sonata No. 13 in E-flat Major”? For years, it was difficult for pianists to find such works on the Internet.
Today the world of online free piano music sheet is making an effort to close those gaps. Yes, “Fur Elise” is still easy to find, but earlier “no-shows,” such as “Piano Sonata No. 13 in E-flat major,” are now almost as accessible. And that’s thanks to a number of sites that offer free downloads of piano music. Project Mutopia, for example, an online source of free piano music downloads, offers free piano music by hundreds of composers from the dawn of written music through the 20th century.
Piano teachers today are discovering the wide variety of music available online. Many piano teachers will tell you that the hardest part of their job is choosing pieces of music that are exactly right for the student. Thanks to the Internet, this is no longer a problem. If a teacher thinks their student needs to learn a certain piece, they can probably find it online. This was not the case a few years ago. Today, thanks to the constant development of the Internet, almost all piano works by all famous composers can be downloaded for free. Instead of huge collections of piano music of the past, today’s piano teacher most often uses folders of printed music from the Internet.
The availability of downloadable piano music does not change the fact that many of us still love good old piano books. After all, these books are still high-quality products and still serve as great gifts. So even though the Internet is now a huge and increasingly important source of sheet music information, the old media are not going away anytime soon.