Avoiding a Sheet Music Emergency


To those of us in the sheet music biz, contest and festival season is also known as “score season.” Contests and festivals are great opportunities to showcase your performing groups outside of school and get feedback from judges. It also leaves a lot of opportunity for things to go wrong – you’ve selected your pieces and rehearsed your group, but did you remember to get your required scores for the judges? Here are a couple of things to keep in mind before entering score season.

Not providing a score to a judge can be grounds for disqualification in the most extreme of circumstances. My professional opinion is to avoid this scenario altogether. If you are going to a festival, know the rules. How many judges will be at the adjudication? Does each judge need a score? Do they allow ePrint scores? We joke in our business that there is no such thing as a sheet music emergency, but this is one circumstance when we get phone calls that someone actually has an emergency. If you show up and do not have the proper scores, your group will be disqualified. I think that counts as an emergency. Know the rules and have the proper scores in the proper format!

How can J.W. Pepper help when there is an emergency? One, we can sell you the scores you need. If the score is available through ePrint and the festival will accept ePrint scores, then buy and print immediately – problem solved.

If ePrint is not an option and you have a couple of days, we can ship you the scores through expedited shipping. We can overnight scores to a hotel if need be, but we can’t turn back time (we’re working on this, but development costs are through the roof!)

The last scenario would be to order the scores you need, even if you won’t get them in time. Many venues allow you to use photocopies for the judges if you can show that you have the proper scores on order. Pepper will send you a “score letter” stating that you have ordered the scores in the correct quantities. When you receive the scores, you must destroy the photocopies.

As a former call taker here at J.W. Pepper, I have spoken to frantic teachers on a Saturday morning when they needed scores – the struggle is real. Plan ahead and know if you make a mistake, J.W. Pepper is here to help. Good luck this season, travel safe and play well!


Ian McLoughlin
Ian McLoughlin is the Director of Marketing for J.W. Pepper & Son. Ian received his MA in Trumpet Performance from the Pennsylvania State University in 2003 and his BA in Trumpet Performance from Penn State in 1999. Ian lives in Glenmoore, PA with his wife Amy, and three children, Anna, Kellen and Charlotte.

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