While being the leading website with sheet music, musicnotes.com does not actually have the best editions to the music on their website.
Musicnotes.com is good that is provides a free sample of each piece, and allows the performer to get a gist of the piece they want to purchase. It also allows a customer the comfort of printing sheet music from their own homes. However, if you are going to spend money on buying sheet music, you deserve to have the most superior and authentic version/arrangement of your piece.
When reading this page, you will learn that the music you receive is actually inferior, and that there are better versions located either on this website, bestsheetmusiceditions.com, or elsewhere on the internet.
Let’s take a look at a classical piece for an example. For the classical piece, we will use Beethoven’s 23rd piano sonata in F minor, Op. 57, The Appassionata. Let’s first look an example from Musicnotes.com:
And let’s look at the Dover Edition for the Appassionata:
Some major advantages we can see with using the Dover Edition are the larger print, details, and fingering suggestions. For a difficult piece such as the Appassionata, having such markings is necessary.
The fingering suggestions for the first movement are of great importance. With the diminished arpeggio of death on measures 13-14, having a good fingering that optimizes movement is crucial.
Heinrich Schenker, the editor for the Dover edition of Beethoven Sonatas, provides good fingering suggestions for this arduous passage. Reading this fingering suggestion will provide a higher chance of success when executing this passage, as it offers insights on what fingering will be able to comfortably play this. Heinrich Schenker was known for having small hands (I cannot find a source for this, but this was told to me by one of my piano teachers), so it is possible that this will not be the best fingering for every pianist. Even if you choose to not use the exact fingering, having at least a suggestion for fingering will aid you in finding a fingering that is ideal for own your hands.
Click here to read what Murray Perahia, a world class concert pianist, says about using Schenker’s fingering suggestions. He admits that while they are uncomfortable for his hands, the suggestions are very musical.
To read more about Schenker’s decision of musical fingering, you can read this article.
When performing this piece, whether for a school audition or performance, any knowledgeable person in the audience will listen carefully to this passage. Successfully playing it will give a great impression to the audience.
For a musician studying this piece using the musicnotes.com edition, they will struggle tremendously! They may invent fingering that makes playing the piece more difficult than it already is, and not pay attention to details in the piece as they are not covered.
There are many spots throughout this sonata that can be covered to show the problems of using musicnotes.com, but this should suffice.
If you are going to spend music on sheet music, you should buy a score that will facilitate learning, not hinder it.
You can purchase the Dover Edition for Beethoven Piano Sonatas Here:
Or you can purchase what is currently considered the best edition for the Appassionata here:
For more information on Beethoven piano sonatas, and the best editions for any of Beethoven’s piano music, please click on this link:
Brian McKnight – Never Felt This Way
In this video, some problems with the sheet music that one can purchase on Musicnotes.com can be seen.
Using Brian McKnights’ Never Felt This Way, we can see how issues with arrangements can apply even to popular songs.
My story for using this piece begins with being asked to play this song at a wedding. Being a good sight-reader with piano music, I wanted to learn a version of this song that was written, as I would be able to learn it faster in comparison to learning the song by ear. I went to Musicnotes.com to buy the music, and was very disappointed with the arrangement I received.
This arrangement has missing chords, strange notes, and does not contain the second verse. For a musician that is dependent on sheet music and cannot read chords or use their ears well, this would be extremely problematic.
To learn Brian McKnight Never Felt This Way most accurately, I recommend watching these YouTube Tutorial Videos:
And of course, listening to the real recording and figuring things out on your own is recommended as well.
As of now, I have failed to find a website that provides quality sheet music arrangements for popular sheet music. Please comment below and share if you know of a good website for popular sheet music!