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Keep Print Music Alive

Keep print music alive. Why is this important? Why should you care? Why do we care? In looking through some Music Notes Academy archives at our South Plainfield office I came across some Alfred Music information regarding print music. We are an Alfred Music dealer and this is article from Alfred is worth sharing. Musicians, music teachers and music students need print music. Print music needs us.

Copyright has had a profoundly positive effect on American society and the creative arts for more than 200 years. The first United States copyright act was one of the very first laws passed in the first session of Congress in 1790. It granted creative citizens the exclusive right to their works. Without that right, a composer, author or inventor would have no protection against the unlimited free use of his/her creations, something that was rampant in the 18th century.

If everyone had free and unlimited access to a writer’s work, it would have no material value. And without material value, there is no incentive, or even reason, for a publisher to publish it. Copyright makes the publication of new works possible. We, the public, are beneficiaries of copyright — we see thousands of new publications every year. Therefore we have both a moral and a legal obligation to respect copyright.

Our legal obligation of course, is to follow the guidelines of copyright laws. For music educators, this begins with not photocopying copyrighted music. Our moral obligation is to support the creative people who write, compose and arrange the music we perform. And, secondarily, we must educate our students to have respect for those writers. Think about the message that you’re sending to your students when you don’t purchase music, but instead make photocopies for them. In a subtle way, you’re saying that music has no value.

In addition to offering printed copies of music for sale, today’s music publishers are developing ways for you to acquire music through digital means. But digital copies still have a price. Obtaining and reproducing a digital file of a published work without payment is no different than making an illegal photocopy of a published piece.

It’s all about respect. As professional music educators, we encourage others to support music. Let’s start by supporting it ourselves.

  • Copyright Do
    • Do view sample pages online to review and select music.
    • Do arrange songs in the public domain (most folk songs, carols, hymns and spirituals) for your ensemble. 
    • Do make emergency copies if purchased music is delayed or backordered before an imminent performance. 
    • Do make copies for your classroom resources that are clearly labeled as reproducible. 
    • Do copy short musical excerpts (no more than 10% of an entire work) to use for academic purposes. 
    • Do the right thing — support the arts by legally purchasing music. 


  • Copyright Don’t
    • Don’t download and copy sample pages to avoid purchasing music.
    • Don’t create your own arrangements of copyrighted material without the written permission from the copyright holder.
    • Don’t keep emergency copies in your music library — replace them with purchased copies as soon as possible.
    • Don’t share reproducible materials from school to school — one is required per building/organization.
    • Don’t post copyrighted materials online.
    • Don’t set bad examples by using illegal copies.

When you attend our East Brunswick or Whitehouse Station Academy for in-studio music lessons and start your music education with us please understand the money spent on your music books is money well spent. These are books your son or daughter will use daily for home practicing. These are books we’ll use here in the classroom for lessons. These are books you’ll want to keep indefinitely. Keep print music alive.

Founder of Music Notes Academy, a '12 NJSBDC award-winning community music school in East Brunswick, NJ. A teacher of music since '00, with degrees in music and education, specializing in curriculum and instruction.

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