What Is a Music Stand?

Lori Kilchermann

A music stand is a device used to hold sheet music for a musician, allowing his or her hands to remain free to play an instrument. Often made of metal or wood, the music stand can be a folding design, non-folding collapsible or permanent height stand. Commonly offered in a highly polished chrome finish for the home musician, the most common music stand finish for a professional grade model is flat black. The use of a stand to support sheet music is also available as a portable version that attaches to the player's instrument. This version of stand or support is commonly found in use in marching bands.

Sheet music is commonly placed on a music stand for reading by a musician.
Sheet music is commonly placed on a music stand for reading by a musician.

In order to conveniently read sheet music, the music must be supported in a manner that the musician can easily see the pages while playing. For many instruments, this mandates that a music stand be able to be positioned at eye-level as the musician is seated. The music must also be tilted at such an angle that the musician is able to clearly read the sheet music by simply looking outward and downward while playing in a band setting. This requires the music stand to not only adjust up and down, but to tilt in and out.

Many of the entry-level stands purchased for the beginning musician and the home player are made of folding metal that is chrome-plated. This type of stand adds flash to the new musician's equipment, however, does not blend into the background in a band setting. The professional music stand is finished in a flat, black color that easily disappears into the background in an orchestral-type setting. This allows the players to use the stand almost secretly. This type of stand also uses a large platform on which the sheet music is placed so that the music is not distracting the audience as the pages are turned.

The professional stand uses a large shelf on which the sheet music is rested. This allows for individual sheets of music or entire music books to be rested on the stand with equal success. In many cases, the stand is charged with holding the music for two musicians, requiring the stand to be very roomy, strong and easily manipulated. The smaller version of the music stand that attaches to the musical instrument is used for marching bands. This stand is more like a clip and often uses a large, spring-loaded device to secure the sheet music to the instrument.

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