Finding music for performance – what you need to know

Discovering new music, deciding what to perform and actually sourcing the sheet music can be both the most fun and frustrating parts of running a music group.

Whether you’re looking for new repertoire, thinking of commissioning or just trying to find the cheapest option for the sheet music you need, we have resources to help.

We’ve tried to be exhaustive, but if you think we're missing something that would be helpful for groups like yours or if you would like advice on a specific situation please get in touch!

How to find sheet music

Detailed guidance on getting hold of music: from the role of a group librarian, to sourcing, obtaining and returning sheet music.

How to best work with music publishers – the hiring process and building relationships. Includes some information on copyright and permission issues too.

Our searchable repertoire catalogue includes over 11,000 holdings of sheet music listed by member groups’ and available for member groups to borrow – as well as almost 5,000 programme notes

This collection comprises a wide range of contemporary choral repertoire kept at the Surrey Performing Arts Library, and available for hire to groups across the UK. The Making Music Kirby Collection was created in 2011 thanks to a generous legacy from our first Chair, Alan Kirby.


Programming inspiration

If you’re not satisfied by the music that you can find to borrow or hire, you might consider commissioning a brand new piece for your ensemble. Our step-by-step guide lays out everything you need to know on that process (we have a template commission contract too)

Our Adopt a Composer project matches member groups with passionate composers who spend a year developing an original piece for their group. Composers from the last two projects have re-scored their pieces to make them accessible to other groups. These new versions are available for free to Making Music member groups to download and perform.

Would a piece under 10 minutes by a Czech composer really tie your programme theme together? Use the filters on our searchable Music catalogue to find one.

Experienced composer, arranger, and Making Music volunteer Martin Jones lists his top tips on arranging music for your group.

Danyal Dhondy's Still the Sirens is a new piece commissioned by Making Music specifically for leisure-time vocal groups as a companion piece to Fauré’s Requiem. The parts are available free to Making Music members until July 2020 in digital format.

Written to commemorate 100 years since the First World War, Patricks Hawes’ new choral work, The Great War Symphony, (scored for SATB choir, orchestra and soloists) is available to Making Music member groups with an exclusive 15% discount until December 2020.

Our members can receive an exclusive discount on these works by Carl Orff and Jonathan Dove until 31 August 2018.

The selection includes fantastic contemporary works by composers such as Cecilia Mcdowall and John Rutter as well as modern classics by Holst and Mussorgsky.

A discount on selected orchestral works and child-friendly music ideal for family concerts.


Copyright and performing rights

The MPA Code of Fair Practice lays out the rules for copying and arranging copyrighted music, including the situations in which it’s permissible to make emergency photocopies.

If you perform music in copyright then you will need to various licenses and permissions in place. 

We hope you find this Making Music resource useful. If you have any comments or suggestions about the guidance please contact us. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the content of this guidance is accurate and up to date, Making Music do not warrant, nor accept any liability or responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the content, or for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information contained in it.