• Sheet Music Department

    March 7, 2017

    Elena Cobb and Andrew Higgins inspire us to improvise at our latest workshop

    We are very grateful to Elena Cobb and Andrew Higgins for spending the day with us on Sunday and inspiring so many of our customers to shed their inhibitions and start improvising!

    Two of the UK’s finest practitioners in this field, Elena and Andrew are both pianists, teachers, composers and publishers who believe that improvisation is not a specialist activity for a few advanced musicians but an essential part of everyone’s musical development from the outset.

    If you were unable to attend these wonderful workshops, you can discover their insights in their books, both of which are among our most popular titles:

    – Andrew Higgins - So You Want to Learn to Improvise?

    – Elena Cobb - Improv Exercises for Classically Trained Beginners

    And if you would like to receive updates about our upcoming events by email, please contact us on 0161 834 3281 or [email protected] to sign up to our mailing list.

  • Sheet Music Department

    February 16, 2017

    *** NEW SESSION ADDED *** FREE WORKSHOP on improvisation for pianists with Elena Cobb and Andrew Higgins

    Due to the high level of interest in our free workshop on improvisation for pianists with Elena Cobb and Andrew Higgins on Sunday 5 March 2017, we will now be offering the workshop twice that day.

    In addition to the previously advertised time of 2pm, the same workshop will now also be given at 11am. For full information, please see our Events page.

    Although places are no longer available for the 2pm session, registration is now open for the new 11am session: please let us know the names of everyone in your party via:

    0161 834 3281 (extension 204) or

    [email protected]

    Places are limited so please register as soon as possible to avoid disappointment – we will not be able to add a third session!

  • Sheet Music Department

    February 11, 2017

    Valentine’s Day: La La Land, musical jewellery, and your favourite song printed by us

    Valentine’s Day is only a few days away… If you’re still wondering where to start, we’re here to help! You can reach us online, on the phone, or in person at our five-storey musical department store in the heart of Manchester.

    Here we share with you some of our top recommendations:

    - sheet music to record- and heart-breaking film La La Land;

    - a selection of musical jewellery and accessories;

    - and your favourite song, printed by us.

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    Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack

    Piano, Vocal & Guitar • £14.99

    Easy Piano • £12.99

    A rare hit with both critics and audiences, La La Land has just been nominated for 14 Oscars, equalling the record set by Titanic.

    These sheet music collections were only published a few days ago but are already among our best sellers.

    Both versions include City of Stars, as performed by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, and John Legend’s Start a Fire.

    Read more and buy online

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    Read more & buy online

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    Read more & buy online

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    Read more & buy online

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    Read more & buy online

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    printed by us


    Whether you want to serenade your partner or be prepared to take requests while gigging on Valentine’s Day, we can supply an enormous number of songs of all genres via our print-on-demand service:

    - blockbusters like Aerosmith’s I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing;

    - old classics like What a Little Moonlight Can Do, recorded by Billie Holiday with Teddy Wilson and his orchestra in 1935;

    - and the latest hits like Ed Sheeran’s current No. 1, Shape of You.

    Most songs are transcribed in the standard “PVG” format (Piano, Vocal & Guitar) while many are also available in versions for guitar tab, easy piano, piano duet, ukulele and various other instruments. These can be prepared in-store while you wait or ordered by telephone: 0161 834 3281, extension 204.

  • Sheet Music Department

    January 24, 2017

    FREE WORKSHOP on improvisation for pianists with Elena Cobb and Andrew Higgins


    with Elena Cobb and Andrew Higgins

    Hosted by Forsyth

    Sunday 5 March 2017

    2pm – 3.45pm

    * * *

    For many of us, improvisation is shrouded in mystery: either you can do it or you can’t. But like every other facet of music-making, it is simply a skill acquired and developed gradually over time with experience and guidance.

    Improvisation can be learned – and it can be taught.

    Come and find out how in our next free workshop!

    We are delighted to be hosting two of the UK’s finest practitioners in this field, Elena Cobb and Andrew Higgins. Both are pianists and teachers who believe that improvisation is not a specialist activity for a few advanced musicians but an essential part of everyone’s musical development from the outset.

    Places are limited so register now to join us for this myth-busting session.

    All attendees will be eligible on the day for a 20% discount on all sheet music published by Alfred, including:

    – Andrew Higgins’s So You Want to Learn to Improvise?

    – Elena Cobb’s Improv Exercises for Classically Trained Beginners

    * * *

    Event information

    Event – Free workshop on improvisation for pianists with Elena Cobb and Andrew Higgins

    Date – Sunday 5 March 2017

    Time – 2pm–3.45pm. Two 45-minute presentations with a 15-minute break in-between:

    In the first presentation (2-2.45pm) Elena Cobb will focus on methods for pianists and their teachers up to about Grade 3.

    In the second presentation (3-3.45pm) Andrew Higgins will focus on methods for more experienced players and their teachers.

    All attendees will be registered for both presentations and are strongly encouraged to attend both! While less experienced players will find the first presentation most immediately applicable, the second will offer relevant insights into continuing to incorporate improvisation into their music-making throughout their future development. Similarly, more advanced players with little improvisatory experience will benefit from the techniques of the first presentation as much as those of the second.

    Venue – Forsyth Brothers Ltd, 126 Deansgate, Manchester M3 2GR – staff will direct you to the workshop space in the basement

    Eligibility – Open to pianists at any level, parents and teachers

    Entry – Free

    Registration – Please let us know the names of all attendees via: 0161 834 3281 (extension 204) or [email protected]

    >>> READ MORE

  • Sheet Music Department

    December 20, 2016

    Give them an orchestra for Christmas! – Music Minus One

    Nothing beats playing with other live musicians, whether it’s bashing through a new piece with friends either side of a meal or rehearsing more seriously for a performance. But for many of us it’s not possible to meet up as regularly as we would like with a pianist, let alone a band or orchestra.

    The Music Minus One (MMO) series enables us to sing or play jazz standards or classical songs, sonatas and concertos with professional musicians whenever we want. MMO publications provide:

    - a printed solo part,

    - a recorded accompaniment,

    - and most also include a demonstration recording, complete with a distinguished soloist,

    - as well as useful liner notes on the music and performance issues.

    For musicians who are professionals themselves, or training to be, it is an invaluable rehearsal tool, a convenient way to build confidence ahead of a recital or competition. For those who play recreationally, it provides experiences that might otherwise present themselves rarely if at all.

    Forsyth has one of the largest selections of Music Minus One editions available in-store, by phone and online.

    Browse all of our Music Minus One titles

    Here’s just a sample of the many possibilities awaiting you…

    * * *


    in E minor, Op. 85 (2-CD set)


    One of the most recognisable and best-loved concertos for any instrument, popularised in the ’60s by the late Jacqueline du Pré, the Elgar Cello Concerto is a work every cellist, professional or amateur, wants to play. As well as the usual features of MMO publications, this edition includes an additional recording without soloist performed 20% slower to assist players even at the earliest stages of learning this iconic work.

    Read more & buy online

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    This is one of our best-selling jazz titles in the MMO series, perfect not only for trumpeters but also for players of any other instrument in B flat such as clarinet or tenor saxophone. Here, the printed solo part provides not only the basic melodies for 10 popular standards – including Fly Me to the Moon and When You’re Smiling – but also a note-for-note transcription of the embellished versions performed on the demonstration recordings by Bob Zottola.

    This is a wonderful resource if you want to try out someone else’s improvisations before developing your own – all with the support of an accomplished big band.

    Read more & buy online

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    If you’re preparing arias from the great oratorios – whether for an appearance with an orchestra or in concert with a pianist – who better to work with than a specialist accompanist who has given recitals with Pavarotti at the Metropolitan Opera and Maria Callas at Carnegie Hall?

    In this, one of our most popular vocal volumes from MMO, John Wustman provides masterful backing for 10 arias, including:

    - ‘The Trumpet Shall Sound’ from Handel’s Messiah;

    - ‘Now Shines the Brightest Glory’ from Haydn’s The Creation;

    - ‘Lord God of Abraham’ from Mendelssohn’s Elijah.

    Read more & buy online

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  • Sheet Music Department

    November 3, 2016

    No Bartók Before Breakfast - Sir John Manduell’s Memoir

    It’s not just as manager of Forsyth’s Sheet Music Department that I have the pleasure of welcoming this new book into stock, but also as someone who has had the pleasure of Sir John’s acquaintance.

    When I was a student at the RNCM, Mr Manduell (as initially he was) was still Principal of the College and definitely no back seat driver. He seemed to be involved in so many parts of the day-to-day running of the place. I was fortunate enough to enjoy a successful career there and that brought me into contact with him on a regular basis. The book has, of course, a chapter on his time there, and I make no excuse for having read that before embarking upon the memoir as a whole. He speaks glowingly and with quiet pride of the opera seasons during his tenure as, I believe, he always saw these as the College’s showpieces involving as they did both the vocal and orchestral students in polished, shop-window performances.

    A personal memory that I’d like to share is of one such evening. Sir John was escorting the Duchess of Kent along the ranks of singers on stage. The night before, I had occasioned him embarrassment in front of guests, so he now interrupted the Royal passage as they came to me and, in front of all my peers, said,

    “This fellow here reckons that I should put on Don Giovanni next year, as I will apparently never have a better Leporello.”

    Upon seeing him exit later that evening, I ran after him and started spouting apologies.

    “No need, dear boy,” he interrupted, “You embarrassed me, I’ve now done the same to you. All forgotten.”

    This, I think, epitomised Sir John’s style, a great man manager, chiding gently and with a twinkle in his eye when need be and thereby achieving far more than by delivering a rocket. Reading the book, I was struck by his words about his father and realised that he must be a chip off the old block. That, of course doesn’t mean that he wasn’t used to his own way. Tim Reynish (who addressed the book launch by satellite link) once told me the tale of a meeting with him wherein Sir John informed him that the College would be presenting Gian Carlo Menotti’s opera “The Consul.” He said that, Tim, as Head of Conducting was being asked to take the baton but that Sir John actually wanted Sian (Edwards – then Junior Fellow) to do it. Tim replied,

    “Put like that, John, I feel I have to politely decline your kind offer.”

    The book barely acknowledges the very real threat to the RNCM’s future afforded by the PCFC reshuffle and the resultant complete financial overhaul of the institution. Perhaps he merely thinks of it as one more hurdle successfully taken in his stride. Furthermore, though I grant that it may lie outside the remit of “A Musician’s Memoir”, he also makes no mention of his Herculean efforts with the Manchester Olympic Committee that came within a hair’s breadth of wresting The Games from the capital cities of the world and led to the successful Commonwealth Games bid and the resulting regeneration of vast swathes of this city.

    1991, I played the Devil in a staged version of Stravinsky’s “Soldier’s Tale” at the Cheltenham Music Festival of which Sir John (as he’d then become) was Director. He attended and as ever took the time to seek me out, congratulate me and offer only constructive criticism. Again, the chapter on his tenure in Cheltenham is brief, but then again the man has crammed so much life into a span of just under ninety short years.

    When addressing the man in company, I always afforded him his proper title, but one-on-one, he tolerated a more personal form of address. Due to his failing strength (of body, though definitely not of mind), it is some years since I’ve enjoyed Sir John’s company, but in 2008, I sent him a card that read, “Happy 80th, Boss!”

    Mike Pearson, Forsyth Brothers Sheet Music Department Manager

    Forsyths counter display of No Bartok Before Breakfast

    Forsyth's counter display of No Bartók Before Breakfast

    Sir John’s book is available in hardback or paperback via our website and in store.

    The book was launched on 2 November 2016 at the RNCM

    Sir John Manduell at the launch of his musical memoir 'No Bartók Before Breakfast

  • Sheet Music Department

    September 24, 2016

    Jazz Resources at Forsyth

    The teaching of jazz has changed. What began as almost an apprenticeship between musicians now gets taught in music colleges and universities worldwide. Any minor topic can have several books devoted entirely to its study and many people (my past self included) seem to collect as many of them as possible in the hope that it will take their playing to the next level.

    Some of these books have sat on my shelf for years barely opened but some have been absolute gems.

    Here are some of my favourites from over the years and what they have taught me. Some of them are directly related to jazz guitar (my specialism), others apply to any instrument, and all are among the comprehensive collection of jazz resources available from Forsyth.

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    Scales for Obsessives - Iain Dixon

    I took some private lessons with Iain a while ago which probably made me put so much work into using this book. Essentially the book is a manual of scales and modes. It goes through modes of the major, melodic minor, harmonic minor and harmonic major scales together with each arpeggio as well as the visual chord symbols. Playing through this book every day in every key really ingrained the sound of chord and scale relationships.

    Now obviously just being able to play lots of scales isn’t going to automatically make you a great improviser but I can honestly say that time spent with this book helped me to open my ears up to note choices.

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    Complete Course in Jazz Guitar - Mickey Baker

    If you are just starting out as a jazz guitarist then this is the book for you, particularly part 1. The book is split into a part 1 (chords) and part 2 (soloing). It’s important to remember that the role of the jazz guitarist is primarily accompaniment and this book gives you some great practical chord voicings from the get go. It even provides charts with some great chord substitutions as well as many practice suggestions. It stresses a step-by-step mastery which I believe is one of the most important things when learning to improvise. This book is just what you need to start your jazz guitar journey. I even heard that Lenny Breau used to recommend it to some of his students.

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    The Serious Jazz Practice Book - Barry Finnerty

    I’m still slowly working my way through this one. It’s basically an encyclopedia of scale patterns beginning with diatonic scales and moving on to more exotic sounds. Barry seems to take you through every kind of interval as well as including chromatic approach notes and triad studies. The most important thing about this book is how to use it. When I first discovered this book I thought if I could play through the entire book then there was no way that I wouldn’t become a great improvising musician. You can actually get a lot more out of taking just one of these exercises and applying it to everything, and more importantly practising improvisation with it, than you will just trying to learn the whole book.

    As Bill Evans said, “I would rather play one song for 24 hours than play 24 tunes in an hour”.

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    Linear Expressions - Pat Martino

    This book really upped my game. The 5 minor patterns seemed to inject loads of bebop vocabulary into my playing within a couple of weeks. The main subject of the book its Pat Martino’s concept of minor conversion. If you have minor vocabulary you can pretty much play it over any chord. If you have a major 7 chord, just think of minor vocabulary starting on the 2nd. If you have a dominant 7th chord that isn’t resolving, play minor vocabulary starting on the 5th and you’ll be playing great sounding Lydian Dominant lines without needing to know what that means! It’s a great way to really dig deeper into the material you might already know.

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    The Jazz Musician’s Guide to Creative Practice - David Berkman

    This is a wonderfully-written book with loads of great anecdotes and truisms about the improviser’s journey. I love the writing style and there are some absolute gems to be found in the content. I read Berkman’s book quite a long time ago and as I’ve improved over the years I’ve heard advice similar to his come up time and time again. In particular the way he advises practising a continuous scale throughout a whole tune, changing to fit the harmony. I’ve heard similar things taught by Joe Pass but with continuous 8th-note improvisation and it can really put your knowledge of the chord changes to the test.

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    Some more great jazz books:

    The Jazz Theory Book - Mark Levine

    Maiden Voyage - Jamie Aebersold (Volume 54)

    The Real Book - Sixth Edition (available in editions for instruments in C, Bb and Eb)

    Charlie Parker Omnibook (available in editions for instruments in C, Bb and Eb)

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    *    *

    These are just some of the books that have helped me over the years and of course there are many more. However I strongly feel that what will take you the furthest is actively listening to jazz and learning from the greats. Stay tuned for a future blog post about some of our best jazz recordings – at least in my opinion!

    Lloyd Rhodes

  • Sheet Music Department

    September 12, 2016

    Free ABRSM presentation on scales, sight-reading and aural tests: 16 October 2016, 11am - 12.30pm or 2pm - 3.30pm

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    UPDATE: All places for this event have now been filled

    To add your name to the waiting list, please contact us on 0161 834 3281 (extension 204) or [email protected]

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    We are very much looking forward to hosting this free ABRSM event designed to support musicians of any instrument or voice, along with their parents and teachers, as they prepare for the technical portions of their exams: scales and arpeggios/broken chords, sight-reading and aural tests.

    There has always been a tendency among exam candidates to consider their pieces to be the ‘real’ exam and to make these the sole focus of their preparation. It can be easy for candidates, particularly those who are just starting out, to feel that scales, sight-reading and aural tests have little to do with making music: that they are just hoops to be jumped through for the purposes of the exam and not worth preparing for. It is easier still to feel that these parts of the exam, especially the aural tests, cannot be prepared for: either you can just do them or you can’t – and if you think you can’t, they can be a terrifying prospect.

    Of course, the truth is that these skills are not simply obstacles to passing our exams but an integral part of our musical development. They extend our expressive range by improving our technical facility and the sensitivity of our responses to the notes on the page and to the sounds produced both by ourselves and by our colleagues in choirs, ensembles and orchestras. And it is possible to practise these skills: in fact, the more we practise them, the more they enhance our own and therefore our audiences’ appreciation of the music we play.

    In this presentation, Anthony Williams, a highly experienced ABRSM examiner, pianist and teacher, will discuss various approaches by which we can improve our performance in scales, sight-reading and aural tests in our exams and enjoy the longer-term benefits of our work in these areas. The ABRSM offers a number of publications intended to guide players, parents and teachers in each of these skills, and all those attending this presentation will receive a 10% discount on ABRSM products. The major series include:


    Scales and arpeggios/broken chords

    Books of scale requirements for most instruments and grades

    The Manual of Scales, Broken Chords and Arpeggios for Piano (covers Grades 1-8)



    Specimen Sight-Reading Tests for most instruments and grades

    Joining the Dots: A Fresh Approach to Sight-Reading, available for Piano (Grades 1-8), and Guitar, Singing and Violin (Grades 1-5)


    Aural tests

    Specimen Aural Tests (with or without CD) for all grades

    Aural Training in Practice (with CD) for all grades


    In addition, the ABRSM have developed a suite of supporting apps, including the new Scales Trainer, launched in July, the Aural Trainer, the Violin Practice Partner, and the Piano Practice Partner, recently updated to include the new Piano Syllabus 2017 & 2018.


    >>> Meet the presenter: Anthony Williams MMus DipRAM GRSM (Hons) LRAM

    Anthony was born in Essex and studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Alexander Kelly. Following international competition success he has gone on to give recitals, broadcasts and concerto appearances around the world. He is also an experienced accompanist, performing with soloists such as Peter Cropper and Ann Murray.

    As a piano teacher Anthony has established an international reputation, his pupils achieving notable competition success and many becoming professional musicians. Having taught at the Royal Academy of Music and Reading University, Anthony is now based full-time at Radley College as Head of Keyboard and Instrumental Studies, combining this with a busy freelance career.

    As an educator he has written numerous articles and books on piano teaching and regularly presents masterclasses, lecture-recitals and seminars on performance, repertoire and the art of teaching, internationally and throughout the UK. Publications include the Best of Grade and Fingerprints books for Faber as well as Teaching Notes for ABRSM and appeared on radio in a series of ten short talks on piano performance and interpretation as part of the Radio 3 Piano Festival.

    Anthony is a Moderator (both jazz and classical), Trainer and Examiner for ABRSM, a regular and experienced presenter at their Conferences and Teacher Support events and has been the joint syllabus selector for the piano exams since 1999. He is an experienced and busy adjudicator, a member of the Federation of Festivals, and President of Chipping Norton Music Festival.


    Event information

    Event – ABRSM presentation on scales and arpeggios/broken chords, sight-reading and aural tests:

    Anthony Williams discusses the musical awareness and skills a musician needs to support and enhance musical progress and independence. He’ll explain the relevance of assessing aural, sight reading and scales and explore teaching strategies and technology that can be used to enhance an instrumental/vocal lesson or a student’s practice.

    See also the information on ABRSM’s website.

    Date – Sunday 16 October 2016

    Time – This presentation will be given twice:

    11am - 12pm, with free refreshments 12pm - 12.30pm
    The morning session is now full

    2pm - 3pm, with free refreshments 3pm - 3.30pm
    The afternoon session is now full

    Venue – Forsyth Brothers Ltd, 126 Deansgate, Manchester M3 2GR (staff will direct you to the workshop space in the basement)

    Eligibility – Open to musicians of any instrument or voice, and parents and teachers

    Entry – Free

    Registration – Although all places for this event have now been filled, you can add your name to the waiting list via: 0161 834 3281 (extension 204) or [email protected]

  • Sheet Music Department

    August 20, 2016

    ABRSM selects Forsyth publications for new piano syllabus

    We are delighted that pianists preparing for their Grade 2 and 3 exams in 2017-2018 can choose to include pieces from our own publications among their set works.

    * * *

    Grade 2 candidates will find ‘The Stowaway’ by Stanley Wilson (1899-1953) printed as piece B:3 in the ABRSM’s selection of Piano Exam Pieces 2017 & 2018, Grade 2. Evidently anxious to remain hidden below deck, the stowaway tiptoes around sempre pianissimo and sempre staccato, often at the very depths of the piano’s range. But perhaps he is being over-cautious: Wilson’s music plays on the melody of the traditional drinking song ‘Down among the dead men’ – a reference to empty bottles rather than corpses – suggesting the drunken sailors are oblivious to his presence for now.

    Players wondering what becomes of the stowaway can enjoy the rest of Wilson’s nautical series of pieces in Ship Ahoy! In this volume, published by Forsyth, ‘The Stowaway’ (No.7) is ominously followed by ‘Davy Jones’ Locker’ (No.8) - perhaps a dark hint that the stowaway is eventually discovered by the sailors and cast to the bottom of the sea.

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    At Grade 3, players have the opportunity to present a piece by Forsyth’s signature composer, Walter Carroll (1869-1955), dubbed the Beatrix Potter of piano music. Manchester-born Carroll was head of composition at the Royal Northern College of Music for many years and specialised in music for children, regularly working with teachers at some 400 schools. Having chosen a piece from Carroll’s In Southern Seas for their 2015-2016 syllabus (Grade 3, piece B:1), the ABRSM has turned this time to his volume of Forest Fantasies, selecting ‘Dwarfs of the Mist’ (No.8) as piece B:5. The nine ‘tone-pictures’ that make up the Forest Fantasies are populated by elves, fairies and other mythological beings, including the ‘Dwarfs’, who are introduced by this couplet from Sir Walter Scott:

    Dimly seen through twilight bending,

    Lo, what varied shapes attending!

    In place of a tempo marking, Carroll simply adds the instruction ‘Grotesque’, inviting players to make the most of the frequent bursts of noise that increasingly interrupt the tranquility of the dusky scene.

    * * *

    Meanwhile, ABRSM also continues to recognise the importance of Forsyth’s recorder publications, which provide 16 pieces on the current 2014-2017 syllabus. These range from Sasha Johnson Manning’s ‘A Tale’, from A Birthday Garland for Descant Recorder, at Grade 3 (descant) to Christopher Brown’s Caprice Op. 68, from Recital Pieces for Treble Recorder, Vol. 1, at Grade 8 (treble).

    All set works for ABRSM exams are among the 100,000+ titles available through the sheet music department in person, by phone and via this website.

  • Sheet Music Department

    October 1, 2015

    Christmas Sheet Music - Order Now!

    Let the Trumpet Sound for Christmas

    Trumpeters, have yourself a super smooth Christmas with this new sheet music + backing CD combo from Music Minus One

    It’s time to start thinking about ordering any sheet music you will need for your up and coming Christmas events. We have nearly 100,000 pieces listed on our website, and a search for Christmasbrings up over 4,600 items, including the jazzy new title for Trumpet by Music Minus One pictured!

    With 30,000+ items of sheet music in stock in our Manchester store, we can cover most requests immediately. However, Murphy’s Law says the piece you’ll want is out of stock and need to be ordered from the publisher. So get your orders in early to ensure we can get it in time for you to make sweet music at Christmas and New Year. Call 0161 834 3281 ext. 603 to speak to one of our sheet music experts, or have a browse online.

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