Where can I find SHEET MUSIC for my song?
The Chicago Public Library—especially the Harold Washington Library, 8th floor music collection—is an invaluable resource. Looking through the “Cole Porter Songbook”, the “Greatest Hits of the 60s”, etc. you can photocopy the pages you need there. You can purchase sheet music in person (YES!) at Coulson’s (312) 461-1989. 900 N Michigan Ave, Level 6 and Performers’ Music in the Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan Ave.
Online: Classical songs in the public domain can be found at the International Music Score Library Project. http://imslp.org/. You can find some free scores and lead sheets (melody line and chords) at musescore.com. Many songs are set up to be easily transposed to a different key. You can purchase sheet music online from SheetMusicDirect.US, SheetMusicPlus.com or MusicNotes.com.
Try to find either the original score or the simplest arrangements possible. For cabaret and jazz standards, a lead sheet providing melody and chords may be sufficient for many pianists. A full piano score will serve you best if it also includes the “changes”, the letter-named chords above the staff. Look for the “straightest” version possible. Especially with MusicNotes, many songs come in non-standard arrangements (“as performed by Norah Jones,” as “orchestrated for Michael Bublé,” etc.).
Print first to a PDF rather than to your printer. This gives you a digital file that can be paper printed at any time and saves you the trouble of scanning the song later to be sent to your accompanist.
If you’re not sure of your key, print but do not confirm yet that the printing was successful until you’ve tested the song. You can usually change the key if necessary at no additional cost.
The mobile app iRealPro costs a mere pittance to supply you with 1300 jazz standards. What you get is the “chart” of chord changes… not even a melody line. However, if you and your pianist already know the tune, it’s very handy for instantly transposing into any key and for having the chorus of the song all on one page (no verses included).
Members of Chicago Cabaret Professionals ask each other for hard to find music by writing via the website chicagocabaret.org. You have to be a member first, but that’s EASY and highly recommended for so many reasons. Join online for a modest $35 per year at chicagocabaret.org.
While you’re on the Chicago Cabaret website, you can send a message seeking Arrangers and Transcribers. When working with the arranger, be sure to specify whether you want a lead sheet with melody line, lyrics, and chords; or a complete piano/vocal score.
Can I Join a SongShop Live Concert?
Each SongShop participant is encouraged to sing two songs at the annual concert gala. We’ve grown, so sometimes our concerts are like a mini-festival of two performances back to back. The Salon Series are house concerts featuring four to six singers, each performing a 12-to-15 minute set of songs. Garden concerts became quite popular during the pandemic, so expect more of those…even when we are safe again.
All concert singers are expected to attend at least six SongShop sessions in the months preceding the concert, and to invite at least ten people to attend the concert (not that all invitees will come, but it’s important to get into the habit of inviting everyone. They will thank you!)
Can You Help Produce My Show?
Would love to, but we’re not a producing organization per se. What we can do for each other is provide feedback and coaching, suggestions of repertoire and collaborators, assist with postcard and poster design, and help promote your individual or small ensemble shows to the SongShop Live audience.
We strongly encourage singers (ALL singers… jazz, classical, rock, pop and folk) to join Chicago Cabaret Professionals (chicagocabaret.org) and sign up to sing in the CCP “Strut Your Stuff” and Holiday concerts, attend open mics and other jam sessions, and promote your shows to the CCP fanlist.
There’s also a monthly Liederstube for art song singers (a Friday night at the Fine Arts Building). There’s nothing better than lots of time on stage to further your craft and confidence.
Yes, during the pandemic, take advantage of the many online open mic opportunities and virtual concerts in the works.