Finding new music to learn is a huge part of studying the violin, and if you want to expand your music library without spending a fortune there are several ways to find free easy violin sheet music.
During your lessons, your teacher will guide your choice of repertoire and help you progress through different styles and skill levels. However, discovering new music for yourself, even with a teacher’s help, can be an overwhelming task, and buying new music books only to find you don’t like the pieces can be expensive.
A simple Google search, “Free Easy Violin Sheet Music,” yields a staggering 731,000 results. But it’s not that simple. There is a reason why good quality sheet music is not cheap.[MM_Member_Decision isMember='false']You will need to register for ViolinSchool membership in order to read the rest of this article! Click here to see all the benefits of becoming a member, and to join today![/MM_Member_Decision][MM_Member_Decision membershipId='1']You currently have a free account! To read the rest of this article, you will need to register for ViolinSchool membership. Click here to see all the benefits of becoming a member, and to join today![/MM_Member_Decision][MM_Member_Decision membershipId='2|3']
Firstly there is the question of copyright. Any piece of music published in the last 70 years is still in copyright and photocopying it or downloading it from the Internet is illegal. Easy versions of many familiar tunes are available as arrangements, but most arrangements are still in copyright. Secondly, whilst music published more than 70 years ago is now in the public domain and can be legally downloaded and copied, many old scores and parts contain editing marks from the early 1900s which are confusing, obsolete and often stylistically incorrect. Some of the arrangements or new compositions which are available to download for free are of questionable musical quality. Some baroque music appears in facsimile - the original handwritten manuscript - which is interesting to see, but not much use.
It is also difficult when you are starting out on the violin to know which music is suitable for the level you have reached. So where should you look, what can you expect and how do you find music of the right standard?
Taking an old-fashioned view, your local library is a good place to start your search for free easy violin sheet music. Your local branch may not stock sheet music, but it’s very likely that a city branch will. Ask what they have on their catalogues. It’s free (unless you forget to renew it) and it saves printing costs.
If you have a friend who is also learning the violin, ask them if they would like to exchange music, or if they would let you have any they no longer need.
There are also many online resources available, covering a huge range of repertoire from Christmas carols and folk songs to sonatas and concertos.
A small number of websites offer free easy violin sheet music to download legally. The most comprehensive is IMSLP, the International Music Score Library Project. IMSLP is a huge archive of public domain scores and parts. You can search by composer or instrument, although it is sometimes simpler to do a Google search of the piece you want, “Handel violin sonata, IMSLP” for example. Much of this music is more advanced, but if you know what to look for, there is something for everyone.
One way to source repertoire could be to look at past and current exam board syllabuses. The Sicilienne from Sicilienne and Rigaudon in the style of Francoeur by the notable violinist Fritz Kriezler is on the ABRSM Grade 4 syllabus 2012-2015, which gives you an idea of the difficulty level. It’s also available on IMSLP. The Trinity Guildhall syllabus is available online and contains guidance for scales and technical work as well as suggested pieces.
Virtual Sheet Music is another website with free music downloads, although these are more limited. Pieces are rated with clear skill levels and reviewed with stars. There are free downloads of Christmas carols and easy arrangements of classical melodies such as Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. If you want to stretch your budget a little, $37.75 for a year’s membership entitles you to unlimited sheet music downloads.
The Violin Site has a nice list of free violin sheet music including works by Albinoni, Bartok and Vivaldi, but the website makes it clear that the quality of editing is not the same as with professionally purchased music. Free Violin Sheet Music Previews has music and midi previews for forty or so pieces including A Whole New World from Aladdin, StarWars, You Raise Me Up, Skyfall and Pachelbell’s Canon in D. You have to pay a small fee to receive the full piece but can print the first page free of charge.
A search on YouTube will produce plenty of easy arrangements complete with synthesised midi recordings. These come with links to the downloadable sheet music on websites such as Capotastomusic and the Facebook page Violin Tutorials. Some of these arrangements are of modern songs and may have certain copyright implications. Some are original compositions.
There is a huge amount of traditional music available online at sites such as thesession.org, www.jimpix.co.uk, www.8notes.com and www.traditionalmusic.co.uk. These pieces are often song melodies which are simple, easy to learn and melodic. Learning some traditional music is also a great way to explore another style of playing. A few other good resources for free folk music downloads are Richard Robinson's Tunebook, the Kitchen Musician, where you can find Scottish, Irish, English, French and North American Folk Fiddle music and Contemplator Folk Music which again has a wealth of music from England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and America.