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Where do you find and buy new choral music?

I need your help.  I am trying to see where most church choir directors find new music for their choirs.  If you could post your response in your Top 3 choices.  For example,
1. Online sheet music (browse)
2. Hear a song on a CD, radio, or online
3. Word of mouth (hear about a song via other directors)
4. No budget. Use whatever is on file at church/around the choir room.
Also, if you can say whether you only buy from certain publishing houses, if you stick with composers you already know, etc.  Any info will be helpful!
Thanks for taking time to answer.  
Replies (15): Threaded | Chronological
on March 21, 2012 7:10pm
Elizabeth:  Here's how I go about it:
1.  Most often, from new music subscription services - such as GIA, OCP, Beckenhorst, Word.  Most of the time I use the first two sources listed.  You will also note that this is almost universally sacred music - my concentration is strictly sacred choral music.
2.  Online sheet music from Choral Public Domain Library (CPDL).
3.  Serendipity - something I hear on YouTube, recommended listening from someone excited about a piece, sometimes using a title as a start point.
Although I don't automatically go far afield, I'm willing to at least listen to a work.  My optic is very practical:  can my 20-voice choir of mostly untrained volunteers attempt this?  If not, nice, but no dice.
Ron Duquette
Catholic Choir Director
Ft. Belvoir, VA
Applauded by an audience of 2
on March 21, 2012 8:22pm
I usually find music in these ways:
1.  Getting suggestions from family members, friends, others in the music community
2. Hearing something online and researching it and other pieces by the same composer.
3. Looking at choral programs or CDs that I find online or through friends.
I have a rather limited vocal range in my choir of all women ( they are low-voices for the most part and very few highs), and we are a very progressive church, so if the range isn't right and the theology doesn't "fit", then I don't bring it in.
Grrat question!
Music Director
MVUCC, El Cerrito CA
Applauded by an audience of 1
on March 21, 2012 8:52pm
I have a website where 7 independent choral composers have music available.  Would love to have you take a look and see if you find something you like.
Many thanks,
Chris Humphrey
RedHouse Arts
on March 22, 2012 2:26pm
Hi Elizabeth!
When I was a high school choral director, I would have dismissed the statement that you have written: "I am trying to see where most church choir directors find new music for their choirs."  I always looked for "fresh music" that most choir directors missed.  Many of my misic comrads were excellent composers, so I went to them first.  After that, I went to professors who were fine composers.
When a composer or arranger creates a good seller for a publisher, many choir directors adopt it because of its "credentials" rather than its quality.  Many people perform only "tried and true" music. 
My opinion is that, as a member of ChoralNet, you are sitting on top of a gold mine of choral music.  Look at the choral market place and find pieces of more quality than most sheet music publishers produce. 
on March 23, 2012 3:59am
I've been a church choir director for only three years, so I could probably use some development in this area.  My church has several ministries to buy music for, including a praise team and a handbell choir, so I try not to spend too much money on new anthems all of the time.  However, when the seasons come around and I'm looking for new material, especially Christmas and Easter, I look at:
1.  ChoralNet.  I keep up with the latest in the forums by being on the list serv, and I've actually learned about a lot of good music this way.  I also look through the repertoire resources when I'm really trying to order something new.
2. Hymnals - my choir is very small, and not all of our members are very skilled, so very often we do arrangements of hymns.  I choose things out of our traditional hymnal, as well as our more modern "The Faith We Sing" book, which has some great songs like Siyahamba and Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore.  Generally I improvise a piano accompaniment and switch around who's singing what verse (men on this one, women on that one, solo here, just women's parts here, SATB unison or split, etc.) to make things more interesting.
3. Anthems in the filing cabinet - again, we don't have a huge budget, and I have to buy music for other groups, too. 
I have a hard time just going online to catalogs to browse, or sitting down to listen to an entire CD of choral music that I've never heard before.  Maybe I'm just impatient, maybe I really don't have the time, but I never seem to find what I'm looking for.  When I do order a new piece I usually see if has it, because they're easy to order from.  And as for go-to composers, I love Craig Courtney and Mark Hayes for their great arrangements and gorgeous piano parts (gotta keep myself interested, too!).  I also really like John Rutter, but a lot of his stuff is too high for my sopranos right now.
Good luck with everything!
Rebecca Maurer
on March 23, 2012 6:44am
Thank you all for your valuable and educational input.  I learned much.
May God continue to bless your endeavors as He sees fit!
(People can still respond... I just wanted to acknowledge the responses thus far.)
on January 11, 2013 4:28pm
I think St. James Music Press is the best thing EVER.
The subscription is stupidly cheap, there is music for every occasion and need, and the best get to make as many copies as you need AND almost all of the songs have an MP3 recording.
My choir gets an email every week with a PDF of the song plus a link to the MP3 recording, and therefore my singers get to come into rehearsal having already reviewed the music.  At this point I actually dislike using songs in a tradtional format because of how useful this is.  
Besdies that I always take suggestions from choir members of songs they love but haven't been performed recently and occasionally I arrange songs if it fits our needs.  
The only reason why I can see it not being a great suggestion for everyone is that the music is fairly traditional.  You won't find more contemporary styles of music.  
Applauded by an audience of 2
on January 12, 2013 7:24am
St. James is fantastic! Being Lutheran I use Concordia Publishing, Augsburg Fortress, along with Morningstar Music. Of course, in the 5 years I've been at my current medium sized congregation, my budget has been shrinking the last 2 years, I've budgeted to purchase no new music. This year, I've discontinued all of my subscriptions from publishers, as I have hundreds of single copies in my files, but as long as I stay at my congregation, I won't need them, unless something drastically changes, or I move to a new congregation, which is a consideration.
on January 12, 2013 9:24am
on January 12, 2013 4:31pm
Hi Elizabeth -
This may not be exactly the answer you're looking for, but I see a lot of reference to small budgets.  Once I determine the song I want, I look at sites that offer used music.  I use these sites often, which affords me the ability to purchase more pieces.  
My favourites are:  They have a buy/sell option.  If you have music you don't use anymore, they may buy it if it there is a demand for it.  You'd be surprised what you might find.
To answer your question, I go to listening seminars.  There are some free, or inexpensive ones around.  Go to, they have free events.
I also use our existing library.  We have approximately 800 pieces in our library so I try to use what we have.  As the generations go through the choir, even though it's been sung before, it might be new to new choir members.
Another no-cost idea might be to seek out other directors and offer to do some trading.
Good luck.
Nancy Franck
Director of Music
Wooster UMC, Wooster, OH
on January 16, 2013 10:17pm
Great question!
Like most of you, I find music anywhere, anytime, anyhow! I have a church choir that is both traditional and contemporary, plus I have a professional chamber choir. I've found the following resources to be most useful, in no particular order.
And, of course, I also rely on input from other colleagues and friends, concert programs of other choirs, youtube, etc.
I am hoping to develop a website/app that is a social catalog (similar to GoodReads) for choral repertoire - allowing users to rate pieces, make notes, click to retailers, and perhaps assign personal library info to the "profile" page of each piece.  If I go through with development, would anyone be interested in beta-testing it for free?
on June 6, 2013 4:07am
I've trouble just going online to catalogs to browse, or sitting down to be controlled by an entire CD of choral music that I've never heard before.  Maybe I'm just impatient, maybe I truly don't have the time, but I never seem to get what I'm looking for. And for go-to composers, I love Craig Courtney and Mark Hayes for his or her great arrangements and gorgeous piano parts (gotta keep myself interested, too!). 
I also enjoy John Rutter, but a lot of his stuff is too much for my sopranos right now.
on June 8, 2013 10:05am
Hi Terry,
Please click on

He is a superb composer (Juilliard trained) and church director of music. He has composed numerous choral anthems and cantatas that are accessible by most SATB church choirs. You can see the videos of performances of his work there and he also has a sales website for purchasing sheet music.

You might also check out our church website at and click on worship and music to see our videos.

I have written lyrics for some of Paul's work. Our choir has performed these pieces in New York, DC, and Paris.

I'm sure you'll find some interesting music on his site.

Peace and blessings,
Julie Jones
on June 8, 2013 9:54pm
Hi Terry.
I used to listen to the publisher's promotional CD's, but they don't seem to send them any more.  Until recently, I would mog through 100+ Shawnee, Lorenz and Beckenhorst's (and occasionally Alfred or Morningstar) online offerings then order through a local music store, but my fairly slow DSL makes that WAY too time consuming.  Now I mostly use Stanton's website ( because they offer a seasonal sampling from alot of publishers (the major ones plus some I might not otherwise check out), and their service is super fast. I also use SheetmusicPlus and Pender's.  
I'm pretty new to this site, so I'm looking forward to exploring the many resources suggested. Thanks for the question/topic.
Robin Leary 
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