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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Music 533: Music Education Resources: Find Books

Resources for Music Education students

Searching tips

  • Use quotations marks to keep phrases together like "West Side Story" and "string quartets". But be careful--make sure something is really a phrase or you might miss important results.
  • Use truncation (putting * after the root of a word) to find variations of a word. Symphon* finds symphony, symphonies, and symphonien

Helpful Search Terms

Useful phrases found in subject headings can be used in searches to narrow your results.

Some of these include:

  • "criticism and intepretation" which can be combined with a composer's name, such as Brahms "Criticism and interpretation,"
  • "history and criticism" and
  • "analysis, appreciation" which can be combined with a genre, such as Operas--Analysis, appreciation.

Find Books in the Library Catalog

A keyword search will check the terms you enter against almost every word in every part of an item's catalog record. If you're not sure of the exact title, perform a keyword search with the words you know (and the author's last name if you know it.) This is often the easiest way to begin searching, and can also benefit from the use of subject/topic.

If you know the name of the book you need, simply perform a title search in the library catalog. Use quotes around phrases for the best results.


Use an author search to find materials by a specific composer/performer. Names can be entered in any configuration (e.g. first last or last, first).

There are several ways to find books using a subject/topic. You can perform a simple keyword search, or you can try a narrower subject search. This will search the subject headings catalogers have assigned to an item. Subject headings tell you what an item is about. This is especially helpful if you want to narrow your results to items about a composer and not items by the composer.

For example, to get books about music and popular culture we'll use a search like below (quotation marks keep phrases together). Use the "Limit to Format" option for books at the bottom of the screen or choose the "books" choice in the format facet to the right of the results list (see image after this one):

subject search

If your search is not narrow enough, you can use the "Topics" list along the right side of the results screen.

results and facets

Once you find an item that looks promising, click on its title to open the full record. Use the topics in the record and words from the summary/table of contents to refine your search if needed.

item record