Why You Should Convert to Digital Flute Sheet Music

As flute players seeking to be challenged and becoming the best players we can be, what is our number one need?

Flute sheet music of course! And lots of it!

So much has changed in the music world. Even in the 20 years between when I began playing and now, there’s been the advent of the internet (questions answered by experts within seconds), online shopping (browse and compare a dizzying range of flute products), apps on our phones to help us learn and play and videos and tutorials accessible anytime, anywhere in the world. It’s really never been easier to learn the flute. Lucky us, right?!

So like every industry in the world, we too as flute students can harness the immense power of the digital age and all of the new and progressive innovations it brings, to make our learning experience interactive, affordable, streamlined and most importantly enjoyable!



Digital sheet music is just one of these resources that I’m really starting to get behind. Now, I’ll rewind for just a second. When kindles and e-readers first hit the scene a few years ago I must admit that I was staunchly against them. A lover of printed books I thought “What sacrilege! It just doesn’t feel right to read a book that’s not a book!”. I’m sure many of you feel the same about printed sheet music too. Its familiar and so a little hard to let go of!

Well I changed my tune.

My husband bought me a Kindle for Christmas one year, and it’s now one of my favourite and well-used items. When I realised just how convenient it was to have hundreds of books in my one little compact device I was sold.


So when I heard about flute sheet music being offered online I was prepared to learn more about it. So I’ve gone out and I’ve done some research on the platforms that are out there and have the results to share with you here!

Today I compare four platforms in the digital sheet music world. I’ve created some categories by which to compare them and give them my overall tick of approval. But first I want to get everyone up to speed on some digital music basics, so we’re all on the same page

What is Digital Sheet Music?

instant access to flute sheet music

Digital sheet music is simply sheet music displayed in a computer-readable format. It’s not just a scan or a photo of a piece of music (although occasionally it might be) but its sheet music that’s been reproduced using music notation software. It makes it look really neat and clean on screen. Often it can be instantly modified online to transpose to another key signature, to another instrument or arrangement with instant playback using midi files. Midi’s are sound files that ‘read the notes’ and play back a simple synthesized sound file to preview a piece.

How do you use Digital Sheet Music?   

It’s easy!

To view your sheet music pdf electronically, the best way is using a device with a larger screen such as your computer or a tablet. You can place your tablet on your music stand just like regular music and simply swipe across with a finger to turn the page easily.

Most of the sheet music platforms above have developed their own (free) apps that you can also view your music in. They allow you to perform some extra features such as annotate and highlight your music, automatically turn the page, play accompaniments and backing tracks, modify playback tempo, transpose and organise your music library into folders

You can also do it the old fashioned way, and print out your music at home.

Discover your new favourite Flute player and flute sheet music

Why are people turning to Digital Sheet Music?

I'm a member of several online flute forums, and one of the questions that comes up regularly is this... "How do you organise your sheet music?" People are drowning in the amount of printed sheet music they own and need a better way to store it, find it and play it.

flute sheet music
flute sheet music
flute sheet music
  • Your entire music library is safely stored. You’ll never lose a book or sheet again. Better still, it’s totally fire, theft, mould and vermin proof
  • Cost. Digital sheet music is simply cheaper than prints. Instead of buying larger books filled with collections of songs, you can individually choose the ones you want, and none of what you don’t
  • Save time searching for music. People with large music libraries often have to painstakingly index them by hand or individually PDF each piece in order to find them. Search through your online library for your desired piece, and you’ll find it in a matter of seconds
  • No downtime. Instantly download your music and begin practising within a minute. No need to wait for the snail mail to arrive with your book or prints
  • Rapidly expand your musical range. Digital sheet music providers offer a range far greater than any music store could offer. And its low cost means you can afford to build a large and varied library when you need it, not when you can afford it.

So here we go….

To help you make your digital sheet music choice, have a look at my quick comparison table.

Sheet Music Platforms

Music Notes

Sheet Music Plus

Virtual Sheet Music

Sheet Music Direct

The Flute Coach Rating
Size of flute library

~5,172

~24,332

~9,282

~2,336

Most featured genres

Pop

Rock

Classical

Movie/TV

Classical

Christmas

Pop

Rock

Classical

Jazz

Pop

Rock

Difficult to filter for flute only genres, but a varied range is available

Subscription Cost

$7.99/yr or $0.99/month

No subscription offered

$37.75/yr or $3.15/month

$149.99/yr or $14.99/month

7 day free trial 

Membership Perks

10% discount

N/A

- FREE access to all VSM® High Quality sheet music (several 100 titles)

- Discounts of up to 70% (several 1000 titles)

-Access to additional mp3 accompaniment tracks

50% discount

Transposition Tools
Preview Tools

- First page preview

- Audio preview

- Modify instruments/ versions

- First page preview

- Audio preview

- First page preview

- Modify instruments/ versions

- Audio preview at a range of tempi (selected)

- Modify note size (selected)

- First page preview

- Audio preview at a range of tempi (selected)

- Modify note size (selected)

File Types (not available for all titles)

PDF, interactive

PDF

PDF, interactive, midi files, mp3 accompaniment at range of tempi

PDF, Interactive, Backing tracks for selected

Search Ease
Free Stuff/ Apps

- Musicnotes app

- Manuscript paper to print

- Limited selection of sheet music

- Manuscript paper to print

- Very limited selection of sheet music

- VSM app for iOS and android

- Fortnightly free sheet music

- Manuscript paper to print

- Metronome

- Sheetmusicdirect App

- Sheetmusicdirect Playalong App

- Manuscript paper to print

- Limited selection of sheet music

Flute Library - this was the total number of articles that appeared in a search for ‘flute’. It may include duets, ensembles and concert band arrangements that contain flute parts; Featured genres - a search within ‘flute’ of the available genres with the largest catalogues

My Final Wrap-Up...

So based on my research my overall favourite that struck a nice balance for flute range, cost, ease of navigation and support of apps was Virtual Sheet Music.

Of course the ratings simply reflect my own personal opinion and were specific to flute only. You may find that depending on the amount of music you require, specific genre or instrumental arrangements you are looking for, one or the other may suit you needs best.

Virtual Sheet Music: To search, select the instrument tab > Flute to search by skill level, type, ensemble, price, free for members or genre. Once a search criteria is selected its easy to add/ delete further search criteria down the left side bar to narrow down your search options. I download the free app for android to my phone and found it was quite limited in its search ability of the VSM catalogue as well as the sheet music view features. You could view your music but not make any modifications. Their app for iOS looks to be excellent, allowing you to annotate and highlight your music, automatically turn the page, play accompaniments and backing tracks, modify playback tempo, transpose and organise your music library into folders. View a handy instructional video here (iOS) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2O14R9FeFY

Sheet Music Plus:  To search, within the instrumental > Flute tab, search by skill level, type, ensemble, rating, or genre. Once a search criteria is selected its easy to add/ delete search criteria down the left side bar. Beware they sell and ship hard copies as well. If you’re only interested in digital music, select ‘Available Instantly’ from the left side-bar of search criteria to refine your search. I don't believe an App was available for this platform.

MusicNotes: I found this platform to have the cleanest and most modern website design.To search, within ‘flute’ you can filter by genre, scoring and instrument. Searches can also be made via ‘Styles’ on the home page and genre, decade, occasion, holiday can be selected. MusicNotes have an app for both iOS and android that are overall rated quite well, but iOS appears to have some additional functionality such as importing other PDF sheet music into your library. More info on apps are here (Android) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXfuZxjd2RI and (iOS) ​https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/musicnotes/id924050984?mt=8 ​​​

Sheet Music Direct: I personally found this website difficult to navigate. I couldn't seem to add multiple search criteria together. Results of ‘flute’ search are in one list that can only be filtered by price, alphabetically, release date and not by more useful criteria such as genre and arrangement. There are two apps available for iOS only.  https://www.youtube.com/user/sheetmusicdirect


One really cool new feature is that all of these apps are compatible with a hands-free page turner device called Airturn. It’s a foot pedal that connects to your device via Bluetooth, allowing you to turn pages with a press of the pedal. If you play other instruments such as guitar or piano, this one might be of interest to you too!

As a general comment, to open up even more titles to play on flute you can select any other non-transposing C instrument (such as violin) or, simply transpose from another instrument. For example to transpose a clarinet part to a flute part (transpose up 2 half steps (turning a B flat instrument into a C instrument).

I hope that my research here will save YOU the time in your own search for flute sheet music. Happy hunting!