Ten Fabulous Websites for Music Students and Music Teachers
Here is a short list of some of the most useful or interesting websites I use in connection with music in one way or another. If you are studying music, teach music or are just passionate about music, you will probably find something here to tickle your fancy.
Many of these websites I came across by chance, using Stumbleupon for example. Others were recommended to me either directly or via posts in music-related forums. All of them have something unique to offer and are are worth a visit, and all of them are FREE!
J.Sayles – Early Music
While not exactly a modern site in terms of design, this is actually an amazing treasure trove of free MP3 recordings made by the site owner, John Sayles, on his classical guitar.
If you’ve ever wanted to explore Early Music without having to leave your own living room, this is a wonderful place to start.
Sayles says of Early Music composers, “They were the “Beethovens and Bachs of the 14-, 15- and 1600s and deserve to be heard by 21st century ears,” and I concur!
Each piece has a short introduction which is eminently readable, as Sayles has a dry wit and honest, open style.
Aimed at the younger generation, Sphinxkids is a website connected to the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
It features a nice selection of online Flash and Java activities which introduce kids to various aspects of music.
You can explore famous composers, “minority” composers (i.e. from ethnic minorities in the USA), orchestral instruments, or create your own rhythm band.
Musopen is a non-profit website, which aims to increase access to classical music for everyone through free educational materials and resources.
Visit the website for free, royalty free mp3 recordings, sheet music and textbooks which you can download instantly. They also have a “radio” page, which plays a randomly selected piece of music and gives you some biographical information to read as you listen. Their mission is to “set music free” and they are doing a grand job!
Easy Ear Training
Ear training is a method of improving the way your brain processes the musical sounds you hear. The exercises on this well set-out, interactive website will help you improve your aural skills, which will in turn help you to play, compose, and make sense of the music you are listening to.
Also great for anyone who is taking a music exam with an aural element included, such as the ABRSM practical exams.
A little bit of fun if you are in the mood for listening to something new and need some inspiration. This site lets you enter the name of an artist or composer you like, then it makes a handful of suggestions of other things you would probably also enjoy.
When you click on a name, a new bunch of selections pops up. Each time you make a new selection, an audio player shuffles to a random track by that artist/composer.
Start off with Mozart (for example) and see where it takes you!
MIAYF stands for “Musical Instruments at Your Fingertips” and is a fact-packed website funded by Museums Galleries Scotland and managed by Edinburgh University.
It’s got tonnes of stuff for kids of all ages to explore instruments in a historical context, as well as resources for teachers, and includes a “Sound Lab” sections where you can mess about with the microphone on your computer.
Are you ever driven mad with a bit of song stuck in your head but you can’t remember what it is exactly? This search engine lets you sing or hum what you can and then matches your efforts with its database of songs.
I tested it out and, despite not being a great singer, I was amazed to see that it worked! The search results include MP3 links to the song in question so you can easily verify that it was indeed the earworm which had been plaguing you for the last 8 hours.
Dolmetsch Music Theory
Dolmetsch music theory is really incredible. It is the most in-depth music theory website I have ever seen. I don’t recommend jumping straight into Dolmetsch if you are just getting started with music theory, because you will risk getting out of your depth pretty quickly, and it doesn’t offer lessons as such (of course, that’s what www.mymusictheory.com is for!) – it’s more of an online encylopedia
But for anyone who is grade 6 or above, or wants to expand the knowledge introduced by the ABRSM syllabus, it’s a magnificent place to explore. Whether you need to check some facts quickly or fancy spending a couple of hours delving into something arcane and complex, Dolmetsch is a reliable resource and contains plenty of images and audio examples to make things clearer.
The website looks a bit old-fashioned – no whistles and bells here – but don’t let that put you off.
Nothing to do with cats – Classiccat is a catalogue of free MP3s, all completely legal. Classiccat provides links to MP3s around the web which are provided free of charge by the people who have the right to distribute them – often this will be sample pieces by orchestras or smaller music groups, for example.
It’s an extensive catalogue and a wonderful resource that personally I use frequently. If you want to “try before you buy” it’s useful too.
If you want to download any MP3, just right click the link and choose “Save as…” to save it to your own PC.
Free classical sheet music! My all-time favourite website and one which I rely on heavily for finding excerpts to use in the mymusictheory.com lessons. IMSLP is a repository for scanned (or typeset ) classical works which are no longer under copyright. All kinds of people upload PDFs to IMSLP – private individuals, libraries, musical institutions.
Everything is free (but you can download more quickly if you pay for a subscription, which is very affordable) and legal to download, although restrictions might be different depending on which country you are in. The search function is very, very extensive, so you can drill down to pieces by era, instrumentation, composer or a combination of elements.
This is really an incredible resource for musicians, teachers and students – although the quality of some items might not be as perfect as it could be, the fact that you can access so much classical music in sheet form free of charge is truly amazing. Links are also given to known recordings, and to purchase hard copies where available.
If you only visit one site on this list, make it imslp.org!
What would you add? Apart from the obvious ones such as Youtube.com or Wikipedia, that is! Which music-related websites do you find most fun/indispensible/interesting?