free music

Free Music for Church Choirs

Free Music for Church Choirs

Maybe you’ve been there, or maybe you’re there now - the choir director who’s trying to piece together a music library on a shoestring budget with anthems that are interesting and relevant to your choir and congregation.

As we all know, music is expensive ($2-4 per octavo for most choral pieces) and there isn’t always room in the budget for those kind of expenditures throughout the year, especially if you’re looking to build a music library and purchase more than 1-2 new anthems per year.

The struggle is real.

But, there’s good news. Some music is free! That’s right. Music published before 1923 is in the public domain (in the USA), which means it is free to obtain and use. 

It can be a bit overwhelming to sift through all the music that’s out there, so today, I’m sharing a few of my favorite go-to resources for music in the public domain along with some anthem suggestions that might work for your choir.

How to Write Your Own Handbell Processional

How to Write Your Own Handbell Processional

As church music directors, we talk a lot about music selection: worship planning, what fits with the lectionary, what will we do for Easter this year, etc. Most of these discussions revolve around finding the right piece of music for your group for a particular Sunday. But have you ever considered writing your own music? Let's start with a simple handbell processional.

A handbell processional is a short piece often used as an introit, fanfare, or acclamation. Processionals are often based on repeated patterns (1-2 measures in length), which makes them easy to learn and play from memory. They are particularly effective when played from the balcony, narthex, or while walking in and/or out of the sanctuary.

Here are a few audio/video examples, to give you an idea:

Festive Introit in C
Lenten Processional
Handbell Acclamation on "Azmon"

Free Music for Handbell Choirs

Free Music for Handbell Choirs

Looking to dust off those handbells in the music closet and start a handbell choir this year? Great! First of all, check out this helpful resource from Reformed Worship - lots of practical information for getting started, recruiting, and choosing repertoire.

In today's post, I thought it might be helpful to share a round-up of free music resources. Yes, free!

These sites offer a variety of arrangements for bell choirs - some for a small number of bells, others for as many as 5 octaves, some with piano/organ accompaniment, others with instrumental parts. Whether you play them in worship or use them for extra reading practice in rehearsals, you can't beat free!