Sheet Music Transcription: A Source of Additional Income for Music Teachers

Jennifer appears monthly as an author on the Music Teacher’s Helper Blog.  This article was published on October 16, 2009 at this original link: 

sheet-musicI have the pleasure of dipping my feet into two different worlds of music on a daily basis: The world of teaching, and the world of performing & recording.

It is within the latter, the world of performing and recording, where I have the opportunity to meet many other artists in the entertainment business who do the same thing as I: Compose music, record it, distribute it, and perform it.

You might be very surprised to hear though, how great the percentage is of performing artists out there who a) have never had any formal music training, and b) do not read music.

This is where you come in as an educated music teacher.

The selling of original sheet music is a nice source of income for recording artists – both independent and record label alike. Though, for non-music-reading independent musicians who do not have someone to automatically transcribe for them (as most record label artists have), they end up hiring a transcriptionist to produce their sheet music.

I personally know many artists who pay anywhere between $50 – $200 to transcribe a song, or between $25 – $50 for someone to proofread transcriptions (meaning they do their best to transcribe it on their own, and then pay a professional to look it over for mistakes).

With the economic downturn this past year in the United States, there are many people who are either searching for jobs, or are simply looking for additional ways to make supplemental income. For you music teachers who have knowledge and experience in notation, offering transcription services is one way that you can earn supplemental income. In fact, many transcriptionists are actually music teachers.


Because we as music teachers are great at reading music, are keenly aware of mistakes when we hear or see one (in music), and need I mention that we also know our theory.

How Can You Get Started in Sheet Music Transcription?

• Having knowledge and skill in notation is key here. But also having the ability to hear a song and write it down is also very essential. In other words, to learn music by ear. Most artists who hire out a transcriptionist only have their recordings to offer as a means of getting the music down onto paper. So you would need to feel comfortable listening to someone’s song and figuring it out from there. Some however, are able to provide you with a midi file that you can pull directly up into a notation software program and edit from there. Which brings me to my next point…

• You will need a reliable notation software program. Two of the most commonly used programs are Finale, and Sibelius. For the full versions, these run between $530 to $600, but you can purchase scaled down versions for less.


Finale offers a freeware program called Notepad, which operates much like the full-fledged version with the exception of certain key tasks that a more advanced user would require, such as the ability to change key signature mid-song, or time signature, for example.

Sibelius has a freeware program called Scorch, which I wouldn’t even consider a notation program at all – as it merely only has the capability of displaying music, playing music (through a midi file), and transposing music to a different key .

Aside from these two mainstream notation software programs, you can Google “Free Notation Software” and find an array of various freewares that could work for you, or at least to practice on.

• Finally, you will need to get the word out that you are available. This is a day and age of social networking – use it to your advantage. Use Facebook, Twitter, etc. Create a blog or website. Perhaps offering a special discount or even offering your services for free initially, to attract customers and to build your clientele. Broaden your network by seeking out independent artists and “friending” them.

There are so many possibilities with this and it really is a skill that is in need. Not only does it benefit you for financial reasons (and to keep your skills brushed up), but it also greatly benefits the artist who needs your services.

It is yet another way for an educated musican to make use of their valuable skills.

Jennifer appears monthly as a contributing author for The Music Teacher’s Helper website and blog.


3 responses to “Sheet Music Transcription: A Source of Additional Income for Music Teachers

  1. Super cette idée d’échange bloguesque! Joyeux Blgoversaires et continuez toutes les deux encore très longtemps, c’est toujours un régal de venir vous lire!

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