How do you organize your music?

Posted In: Repertoire

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    Andelin on #195837

    For those of you who haven’t gone digital, 🙂 I have a two part question.

    How do you keep your music organized?   Meaning, how do you store it or what do you keep it in?  I want to have my music out where I can quickly and easily find what I want and know where to put it back when I’m finished with it.  I’ve been keeping all in a box…until it ends up in a pile on the floor.  ;). I’m looking for a better solution.  I am looking for something that will work in a teaching/studio type setting.  I don’t have a ton of music books now, but I will need room to expand.  I have a variety of different books, single pieces, and things I’ve printed and put in binders.  Plus reading materials and notebooks….not to mention piano music.  :). We just moved, so I’m starting fresh in a new space.  🙂


    part 2:  how do you organize everything?  Do you keep lever/pedal separate?  Do you sort by difficulty level?  Or perhaps alphabetically by composer or title?  I’m trying to decide what makes the most sense.  It helps to hear what others do. 🙂




    patricia-jaeger on #195845

    Andelin, for harp music I use for Christmas 3 “magazine storage” boxes, which are sold as heavy cardboard; or you can make your own inexpensively if you use breakfast cereal boxes of the same size at home, and save those when empty and cut the same way and label them: Christmas Harp Collections; Christmas Harp Solos; Christmas Harp Ensemble and Chamber Music. Harp music of other genres than Christmas
    take one long shelf with the name of each composer on the spine of each individual file folder, standing vertically arranged from A to Z.You may find the Trotter file much fatter than Tschaikowsky! Another shelf has file folders piled flat with titles on the spines such as WEDDING,(white);SACRED (red); FRENCH (blue); ISLAND (yellow), IRISH (green); MID EAST (sand color); BAVARIA, AUSTRALIA, JAPAN, CHINA, SOUTH AMERICA, NOSTALGIA, POPULAR, HARP CONCERTOS and others. As a free-lance player, when I first began performing on harp in the 1970’s, this music filing system developed gradually over the years. I have no clue how others store their music but with this I can usually find what I need rather quickly. I no longer need to play from printed music on a job; it is all memorized and can vary with some improvisation so hopefully sounds fresh because otherwise the staff in a country club dining room where I played 15 years, would be very bored!!So would I.

    lyle-laturno on #196026

    Music storage will likely never be perfect.  That said long ago ordered black plastic magazine covers. I put white cards with the music category outside. Found they covered all the mess of the music. A bookcase allows easy access.  The appearance is more elegant and are more sturdy than cardboard holders. Sizing is critical to allow all music to fit inside.  More costly than cardboard but more permanent and nicer looking.

    linda7paul on #196179

    Ah! The joys of trying to find one’s music in the filing system of one’s mind, which doesn’t always match the actual location in the studio! <grin> Like so many others I discovered the Magazine boxes at resale shops, office supply stores, and even Tuesday Morning, and began putting all my music into categories. Using label makers I put succinct titles on each magazine box. They even hold French music! Yippee! As a teacher I needed to have my books and music sorted by playing ability. When I pulled something I showed it to the student and told them to buy their own, giving them a Post-it note to write on with the salient info. I quit giving “auditions” to my music a long time ago as it rarely returned in decent condition.

    I kept all my originals in pristine condition and keep the “legal” three pencil copies I need in various 3 ring binders for weddings, casuals and ensemble/orchestra. When one pencil copy wears out, I would print a fresh one from my pristine copy and destroy the old one after transferring markings. It worked for 20 years!!!!

    Fast forward to 2 years ago when I realized my granddaughter, who plays harp, has no interest in PAPER MUSIC!!!! I have signed copies and “antique” copies that she wants, but my library? Ix-Nay! I began looking at computers. David Ice and I began looking together. David bought the iPad Pro, and I watched him post whenever he had a problem. Most of the time it worked, BUT I live in a state where I do weddings in cow pastures with no bars on my phone! I needed something with more than 16-32-64 GB storage that didn’t require the cloud to download. After several months of watching the struggles with cloud downloads and yet another pedal, I purchased the Windows Surface Pro 4, Wi-Fi only, with 256GB storage and a USB port. I can never run out of room, with this setup, AND I can carry my whole library under my arm. That’s helped me lighten the load of carrying my well-organized 2″ three-ring binders!

    And the best plug is the software called Song Repertoire! It has a playlist feature so I organize by names of events. Otherwise it is all in alpha order in the master list. I can build an entire playlist of 30+ songs in less than 5 minutes. I can also make notes on playing level, lever or pedal, etc., on the description page, for my educational music. I’ve learned to add arranger names to composer names as I have three different Clair de lune arrangements and the title now reflects which is which.

    The best part is: Song Repertoire has a scrolling feature so no foot pedal is required. David says he’s gotten past the learning curve, but honestly, I didn’t want to try. Playing Jazz Harp a great deal I already have 7 pedals I constantly use and adding the 8th had me pulling my hair out. I have several two-page charts, so the scroll feature helped me a great deal. Add my regular repertoire of solos (8-10 pages) or orchestra (4+ pages) and ensemble works (3+ pages) and I’m ready. The scroll feature lets you slow down or speed up for each song!

    Anyone want to buy a brand new Air Turn foot pedal? <grin>

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