Do The Right Thing: BUY YOUR MUSIC (from me!)


Please share this post with your fellow teachers, conductors and arts administrators.

We’ve all done it. We’ve all copied something we shouldn’t.

We make a lot of excuses for it, we claim to be using it only in a ‘fair use’ capacity, and sometimes our choirs are so broke and desperate that in order to make music happen, it’s either copy or be forced to search even harder for acceptable repertoire in the public domain (which there is lots to be found).

Composers know it happens. Publishers know it happens. Sometimes a choral director at a disadvantaged school has to stand at the photocopier weeping like after a bad night of drinking, chanting “Never again!”. We all know it’s wrong and my hope is that as a choral community, we’re all working hard to minimize it as much as possible.

All that being said, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that from a purely logical and moral standpoint, copying is bad for our art.

I adore Canadian choral music. I’ll be honest, I’ve been an Eleanor Daley fan for a very long time and she motivates me as a truly Canadian choral hero. When I sang with the MUN Chamber Choir during my Masters, we travelled to Toronto and sang in her church. It was difficult to accept she was just a normal individual; even though my life as a chorister is relatively short compared to others, her name popped up a lot with the shimmer of celebrity. Standing in her presence, seeing her office where she wrote and continues to write, seeing her sitting at the organ while the congregation was just sitting and not cheering her entrance in a Justin Bieber type fashion; it was all very surreal. Hey, we’re all welcome to our obsessions, forgive me mine.

Eleanor is just one of Canada’s most prized composers and all of these giants have paved a great road for the future composers of Canada’s choral music. Choirs who performed at Podium 2014 (naturally) had significantly featured Canadian choral works, some of them brand spanking new. I get a real charge from seeing the celebration of our own music and of these emerging composers who, with encouragement and support, will flourish for decades to come.

I am proud to say that the Coastal Sounds Community Choir has had a policy in place since its inception that choristers would be responsible for purchasing their own music. It’s exciting for me to think that in the homes of all my singers, there exists a personal choral library that may one day be handed down to others who will celebrate it themselves. The choir subsidizes the shipping and a portion of the cost, so it does not become too much of a cost burden on the singers. Pieces often get reused, anyway. It becomes theirs for life, their markings and their notes.

We must do what we can to support the Canadian composers and publishers who continue to furnish our art with beautiful fuel. You can help them and also help support my writing simultaneously by considering Sheet Music Plus for your music purchases. I have been using SMP for Coastal Sounds for many years and I have always had great success with them. Not only do they have a wide and assorted variety of choral music from a bevy of publishers (including Canadian ones), but their website is supremely easy to use. Most pieces come with inside peeks and often full recordings. There is also a very large digital print library where you can print your purchases for immediate use. I find the website is very handy for aiding in the research for new music, which is often already a time-stealing task.

If you click on any of the ads on my website and purchase through Sheet Music Plus, you will help support my blogging and choral efforts in the future. You can also bookmark and use this link, it will take you to their Choral Music landing page:

I appreciate any support I can get. We all normally do, and all should buy everything we use. Please consider buying it through Sheet Music Plus and supporting my website.

Whenever I mention a piece of music in my blog posts, I will link to its page on the Sheet Music Plus site. I have already collected a list of favourites from Coastal Sounds and other works I’ve conducted, which you can find here. Soon I will be blogging about the generous and passionate choral publishers we have in Canada and my positive experiences with them at Podium 2014.

Thank you for your support and thanks for reading!