Directing a primary school choir means you must be a wizard at not only corralling and inspiring energetic young people, but also, unless you are gifted with unlimited funds, making something out of next to nothing. If you are running a school choir on a tight budget, don't fear -- you will find a wide range of free music available, if you devote a little time to tracking it down.
Visit the website Music K-8. This site lists free downloads under the Downloads tab. Consider a subscription to the print or online magazine, which will give you another slew of choral music to try with your school choir. Remember that music is protected under copyright law, so pay attention to the fine print. The music on this site is authorized for use with a school choir, so you are free to use it.
Other Online Resources
The online Choral Public Domain Library hosts a visitor site called Choral Wiki. Music that is in the "public domain" is considered copyright-free. By choosing the "Multi-category Sheet Music Search" from the home page of Choral Wiki, you have the chance to search for free music by type (secular or sacred), number of parts, era, language and accompaniment type. Clicking on a title and the PDF icon next to it will allow you to preview the score before printing it. You also have the chance to hear it electronically produced before you print.
Musica International requires a free registration in order to access its library of 160,000 pieces of choral music. Free Scores offers a selection of free choral music. If you click on the first tab, you will be brought to a window that allows you to search by era and number of parts.
Christian Music Sources
Kerby Music has a modest online library of free Christian choral music composed by Lindy Kerby. Clicking the title of a piece directs you to a page containing the lyrics and links to download the printable music or a free MP3. New Hope Music offers a free book of children's choir music which you can easily download and print. Many of these pieces, although scripture-based, could also be used in a secular environment. Another resource, though not as user-friendly, is MusicaLion. Here composers upload their music in PDF form as well as MP3, so you can hear an electronic rendition of the piece before choosing to print it.
Aside from these web-based resources, call on your community. Create easy choral arrangements from a local church hymnal, or from a primary music textbook. Consider composing your own pieces, or use a poem written by one of the choristers, and set it to music.Don't forget that other choir directors are also looking for primary school choir music. Consider sharing with another school. Partnerships like these offer many opportunities for music sharing, shared performances, travel opportunities and workshops.
Jeanne Pengelly is a published author, print and broadcast journalist and communications specialist. She has more than 20 years of experience writing and editing for television, radio, print and online media, and has also served in public relations for a school board in Canada. Pengelly holds a master's degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario, and a postgraduate certificate in creative writing.