This week, the American Choral Directors Association is meeting in Salt Lake City, so choral music is on my mind. While my career isn’t in music, it’s an art form that plays an important role in my life. I have some training in piano, choral performance, and organ while my wife was trained in vocal performance. We’ve spent most of our married life in music-related callings as a result. It’s not a stretch to say that leading a ward choir is, perhaps, the most rewarding and most difficult of the music callings we’ve been involved in. Few people want to put in the extra time at Church or (especially if young children are involved) feel like they can do so, which means that ward choirs are often small. Budgets are limited, so finding music that is usable in sacrament meetings can be difficult. Luckily, however, there is an ever-growing corpus of free or inexpensive choir music available for Latter-day Saint ward choirs online, and my goal here is to gather a good list of those resources into one place here.
One of the newest sites to join this list is Ronald Staheli’s sheet music site. Staheli is an internationally known and respected choral conductor who retired a few years ago from leading choirs at Brigham Young University. Apparently, he’s spent a fair amount of time during retirement focusing on writing music for ward choirs. Launched just a few months ago, his site includes music designed for ward choirs with limited numbers and skill (often 2-part choral music with piano accompaniment).
Two of the major players in providing free ward choir music are Sally DeFord Music and Linda Pratt’s Free Ward Choir Music. DeFord was one of the early internet LDS music distributors and provides a good range of high-quality music. She has choir pieces, ranging from 1-part to 7-parts, and offers vocal and instrumental solo music too. Her site offers recordings for most of the pieces she has posted, which is helpful in deciding what music to select. Linda Pratt’s site is dedicated to “providing simple arrangements that can be learned quickly by non-professionals at no cost.” My wife used her music a lot when she led ward choir, and it is pretty good stuff. Most pieces are designed for 4-parts or less, and she does offer mp3 files with each piece. Pratt’s site also has a good collection of Spanish-language versions of her music and offers some vocal and instrumental solos too.
There are also some sites that act as collecting points for music written by many individuals. For example, the Church’s website has a section devoted to providing free sheet music that can be used in sacrament meetings, mostly drawn from the annual music contest. The other major collection is Free LDS Sheet Music, which has thousands of entries. Both sites have a mix of choral music and instrumental music and are good places to become acquainted with a range of Latter-day Saint artists. There are also big collections of public domain sheet music, such as ChoralWiki and the IMSLP Petrucci Music Library. Many of the pieces available at those sites are classical music and are more difficult than most ward choirs can handle, but if you’re willing to dig into the site content, you can find a few pieces that work well.
A couple other notable free LDS sheet music sites include Tuiofu & Thomas Music, HolySheetMusic, and SacredSongs. I am not personally familiar with these sites, but I hear good things about them. SpireMusic is not free, but receives honorable mention because it is a favorite of mine (largely because Rob Gardner publishes his music on that site) and provides generous re-copying rights for the music that you purchase there.
With those highlights being shared, here is a list of sites to browse when looking for free choral music for use in a ward choir. Let me know if there are any missing from the list and I will look into adding them.
- Free LDS Sheet Music
- IMSLP Petrucci Music Library
- Ashley Hall Music
- Chapel Music Online
- Faithsong Publications
- Jay Richards Music
- Vieve Thompson’s Ward Choir Music
- Latter Day Arrangements
- Linda Pratt’s Free Ward Choir Music
- Mark Newman Music
- Music by Andrew
- Music by Mary Finlayson
- The Music of Craig Petrie
- The Music of Rosalind M. Luke Crosby
- Ricky Valadez Free Sheet Music
- Ronald Staheli’s sheet music site
- Sally DeFord Music
- Sing a New Song
- Smurthwaite Song
- Song of the Righteous
- Timothy Max’s Hymn Arrangements
- Tuiofu & Thomas Music
- Western Hymn Writers Workshop