Organizing your digital library

How to organize music in forScore and find it quickly.

The first time I took my iPad to a gig was a pretty big freak out moment for me. After years of flipping through binders and instinctively knowing that Pachelbel’s Canon came after “La Source” and before “All I Ask of You”—not because of any logical organizational system, but because I had set it up that way for a wedding prelude one time and never bothered to change it—I found myself in the “what now?” moment of having to find music fast in the music reading app forScore. And it’s not always intuitive.

ForScore provides several hierarchy tools to help with this task. Pieces can be put into one or more libraries, and also set lists. In addition to the title, each piece can also be assigned sorting data such as composer, genre, and whatever other tags or labels you might want to use. Larger works or collections can also be assigned bookmarks so you can pull up individual movements without having to flip through lots of pages.

Naturally there are many ways you can approach organizing your digital music, so I’ll just tell you what works for me. The most important thing is to come up with a system and use it every time you import a new piece into your library. Otherwise, you risk a huge jumbled mess of music you’ll never find again when you need it.

Organizing Music


Caveat: adding libraries is helpful for visually browsing your music, but it can make searching a bit trickier. Until you get the hang of searching and how forScore works, you may want stick to just a few libraries, or even none at all. If you use libraries, be diligent about assigning new pieces to one as soon as you import them, or they’re likely to become next up in your “I can’t find it!” list (see below).


Next in the chain are attributes, such as title, composer, genre, and tags. Including this information is helpful but not mandatory. You’ll of course want to make sure your title is accurate and doesn’t include any misspellings or you may never find what you’re looking for.

Think about what genres are relevant to you as you import your music. You’ll probably want things here like “Holiday,” “Celtic,” “Pop,” etc. You can name your genres anything you like, and create as many as you want. You can also assign tags, which can be whatever key words you find useful like “wedding,” or “ready to play,” or “kid-friendly.” Or if you teach, you could tag all the pieces each student is working on with their name to pull up quickly during lessons.

Set Lists

I like to think of set lists as groups of works in progress or centered around events. For example, you could have “next week’s lesson material” or “Jones wedding music” in set lists. One harpist I know uses set lists to gauge progress—deleting one indicates a goal accomplished. Of course your set lists can also hang around for as long as you need them. You could have “wedding preludes 2017″ or “holiday favorites” that work throughout the season. Unlike libraries, you can reorder the entries in your set lists to suit the occasion.

Important to know is that set lists are library specific. So you could have a library of wedding music and create a “Jones wedding” set list there, but this list won’t show up in your “orchestra excerpts library,” which can be a bit confusing sometimes. If you want to select music from your entire collection for a set list, be sure to choose “All Libraries” before creating it. Likewise if you want to see all your set lists in once place, go to “All Libraries.”


Assigning bookmarks is helpful for quickly finding movements or pieces in a collection. Bookmarks are highlighted in blue in the score menu and are created from the—wait for it—“book” icon in the top bar. One important thing to know about bookmarks is that you can enter both a starting and an ending page number. If you want to be able to continue to scroll through your whole book when you pull up an individual bookmark, omit the end page number.

Finding Music Quickly

For me, the quickest and easiest way to pull up a single piece that I know is in my library is to use the magnifying glass search tool in the top bar. Beginning to type the title, composer, or a key word almost always gets me what I want.

Sometimes I’m in more of a “hmmm, what should I play now?” mood, which in forScore isn’t quite the same as rifling through a stack on my bookshelf. To browse, you’ll want to get familiar with the score menu by clicking on the music note icon in the top left corner. From there you can search within libraries, or by composer, genre, or tag.

I can’t find it!

Remember: The best way to prevent lost music is to make sure the title and other searching data is accurate as you import each piece to your library!

Finding new imports

Speaking of importing new music, the last piece of advice I’ll leave you with is how to quickly find new music that you’ve imported to forScore, since new scores don’t always open by default. Once again, you’ll want to go to go to the score menu, then “All Libraries,” and finally “All Scores.” Sorting by “newest” will show you your most recent imports. (Can you tell I’m a fan of the Pedal Sliders’ new arrangements! Check them out here.).

I hope this has helped provide you with a starting point for building your own digital library. Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? Another way to do things? Leave your comments here. We want to hear from you!

Step by Step

7 thoughts on “Organizing your digital library

  1. Faye says:

    This was helpful and made me take out my iPad again and see about using ForScore. Do you have a favorite stand to use? And what is the easiest way to import? Scanning or taking a photo of it?
    Do you use the regular size iPad or the new larger ones? Thanks

  2. kimberly-rowe says:

    Hi Debora:

    I’m not familiar with Mobile Sheets. ForScore does seem to be the more well known program, but I’d love to know more about Mobile Sheets if you find out more!

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