Do you sometimes find it hard to source good-quality arrangements of piano sheet music (especially pop) that your students actually enjoy playing, that actually sound good and that are fun to teach?
Or are you a bit sick of the simplified arrangements of your favourite music (classical, movies, jazz...you name it!) that you find in method books or online and are you ready to explore some new options?
If you're a classically-trained teacher who prefers to teach music with the score and would love to work on more pop, jazz or film music with your students, then you need to check this out.
Noviscore is a completely new breed of 100% legal sheet music download sites that I recently discovered and know that you're going to love!
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Make your piano playing a really fun experience by making the most of the digital piano sheet music available on our website. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced musician, you can view and print sheet music that matches your own personal skill level. Most sheet music includes reading aids to help you with deciphering notes. You can also download an audio excerpt played by a professional pianist to give you musical direction. This will help you understand the piano sheets even better.
What makes it different?
There are a few key features that set Noviscore apart from other sheet music sites:
- It's 100% legal and supported by music publishers.
- Each piece in the catalogue comes with up to four levels of difficulty, each expertly arranged by pianists for pianists.
- You can listen to audio excerpts of each piece and level as you preview the score online before buying.
- It's 100% online so you can download music instantly and quickly get it in front of your students, even in lessons.
- Scores come with a "piano accompaniment" arrangement if you or your students are accompanying another instrument or vocalist (instrumental parts in other keys are also included!).
One of the most obvious differences about Noviscore is the quality of arrangement. All pieces are all individually created by their own in-house team of pianists (not just downloaded from elsewhere). Not only do they sound good, they are well laid-out and very playable.
Here's what Noviscore says about its approach:
Regarding our catalogue, we have decided to provide quality and variety of offer (as opposed to volume) for each song. The sheet music we provide has not been simply downloaded from another site and posted up on our own. Each one has been carefully created by us. We are experienced pianists ourselves so we are eager to provide you with piano sheet music of high musical quality that is perfectly adapted to this wonderful instrument: the piano.
Want to see it in action? Watch this video of me explaining the site and how it works:
The biggest benefit: pop/film music
Finding good written arrangements of current pop music that beginners can play can be a real challenge and that's where Noviscore excels.
Let's say you have a student that really wants to learn Comptine d'un autre été from Amelie.
This is how the original looks:
The left hand is particularly tricky if played correctly and can be a real challenge for students with smaller hands.
Now here's the Level 1 version that is approachable by much more beginner-level learners:
Same key, same great sounds, but a much more approachable arrangement. And of course if this is too simple, you can check out Level 2 which sits between these arrangements.
This is the great benefit of working with Noviscore: not only do you get great arrangements, but you can find simplified ones where they just didn't exist before (or if they did, they were either illegal or terrible anyway!).
Noviscore has developed a couple of great tools to help beginner pianists learn to play music faster. One is "Reading Help" which includes some note names and fingerings on the score which will be of great benefit to students learning piano.
In Level 1, you can also download sheet music with "Note Names", which looks like the real music except notation is replaced by the letter names of the notes.
As a teacher, I wouldn't of course recommend this for use in teaching as it is designed for non-pianists to be able to play with a minimum of instruction.
However where I can possibly see this being useful is when you have a student who loves YouTube tutorials and learning things by themselves, they could potentially enjoy playing a piece that would otherwise be out of their league by learning it through a quasi-notational form rather than just copying someone online.
At least with the Note Names scores, they are starting to get an appreciation of how to read music and the movement of notes up and down the stave, etc.
How much are the sheets?
Here's how the levels and pricing works on the music page:
These prices are similar to other online download sites, if not a bit cheaper. Using the Amelie piece for comparison, here's what the original arrangement costs across the three main sites ($US):
Sheet Music Plus
So while you could buy the original more cheaply on Sheet Music Plus, you will only have access to one version. The only advantage of paying more at MusicNotes is that you can transpose the score to any key.
But in my opinion, it's more than the cost, it's about quality of arrangements and that's where I put Noviscore first, even though it's not the cheapest.
Not just pop!
Noviscore doesn't just revolve around pop music either (although admittedly this is where its strength is, in my opinion). On the site, you'll be able to find great arrangements of your favourite Classical, Jazz, Gospel, Ragtime, World, Christmas music and so on, all arranged at three levels of difficulty.
For example, perhaps you'd like to teach Chopin's Waltz in A Minor, but it's just a bit of a stretch for your student. Just head online and check out their Level 1 version:
Other favourite classical arrangements include Moonlight Sonata, Canon in D, Mozart's Piano Concerto No 21 Andante movement, Albinoni's Adagio and so on.
Here's a quick overview of some of the pros and cons of this site:
- High-quality arrangements that actually sound good.
- Three levels of challenge for each piece. This means that you can find arrangements to suit students of all levels.
- Audio excerpts provided with the scores.
- Scores can be downloaded with reading guides to help students with notes and fingerings without giving everything away.
- A huge and growing collection of music of all styles including classical, pop, jazz, blues, Christmas, movies and more.
- Readily updated and scores added regularly. Because it takes so long to print new hard-copy books, Noviscore can get new pop songs online in a much shorter timeframe than printing would allow.
- The have cool music! I'm really impressed by the music they've chosen to arrange as it's all the stuff that kids want to play. Even if you're unsure about pop/film music, check out their listings, because chances are even if you don't know the song/piece, your students will.
- No PDF downloads: you can only view and print through their online software. I asked Noviscore about this restriction and it's due to the copyright holders and music publishers.
- No studio licensing. Again, I imagine that this is due to the fact that Noviscore has to work within the guidelines of the copyright holders and while studio licensing is becoming popular for independent publishers, it's yet to go mainstream. Maybe down the track!
- Depending on the original piece, Level 1 isn't always the same level of difficulty, but it's always a simplified version of the original.
- No ability to change the key of the downloads.
Who should buy Pop Music: Teachers or Students?
I get asked quite often how I go about providing pop music for students: do I have a library and lend scores out, do I purchase them and pass on the charges either directly or as part of a monthy/termly/annual charge or do I get the students to buy the music?
Of course, this will depend on your situation, however I find that given that pop music is so particular to a student's tastes, I think it's better to get them to purchase the songs that they want to play, or at least for you to buy it and pass the charge on.
What do you look for in a pop arrangement?
Is it about the layout, the chords, the choice of harmony or just about how easy it is? Leave your thoughts below.