Help! We have a major sheet music problem in our house. How do you store your music so you can find things, keep it relatively neat, and still have it be accessible? We currently have about 15 magazine boxes full of violin and viola music, plus drawers full of piano music and accompaniment parts, bookshelves of scores, and numerous unsorted piles of photocopied orchestra and chamber music parts. It's insane.
This might help! https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/gradhacker/7-apps-cataloguing-your-home-library
It sounds weird, but I have an antique haberdasher's cabinet. The drawers are large enough for oversized music and folders and I can lay the music flat.
1: collect all the music
Following up on George Wells,
My solution is keeping the originals (they're usually not the problem) but try to get rid of all the copies and printouts by digitalizing. Try to find file names that make sense, put them into sublibraries with the composers name, and (if necessary) the composers again into sublibraries with epoque or musical style. Using the MobileSheets App (until a few days ago via the PC Companion, but now I got it also for Windows 10) I can additionally bundle the pieces to setlists and collections (e.g. "christmas carols", "Orchestra 2018/19", or "violin lesson"), and add catchwords (like Baroque, Romantic, Violin, Viola, Piano, Etudes, Technical Studies, Ensemble, etc). All this is really helpful in finding those pieces again, and not much work if done consequently and continuously. If (unexpectedly) needed I can print it out again any time I wish. That way I got rid of 60 centimeters of sheet music already during the last two weeks. Now it's time for a rest, but maybe another 150 centimeters waiting... (Mostly things I didn't touch for a very long time, and mostly piano, but I wouldn't want to loose all my annotations by just throwing them away.)
Paul's advice is at least as good as mine, as long as you're a person tidy enough to put things back on their place again. (I'm not... And my kids aren't, either...)
I'm actually pretty organized, but there are other members of my family who are not and don't put things back in the right places. I think in the past year we just outgrew our current system that had been working well, so we have run out of places to put things. The music is actually reasonably well sorted into the magazine files and drawers (except for the photocopies in piles). But it used to be we had one file for Violin concertos and now we have several and they are pretty much full, which has made things confusing.
Susan - you have gotten some very good suggestions of different systems. Figure out one that will work best in light of what space you want to use and how best to organize the music. Then go for it. I just keep mine in several piles by instrument without any particular order. My first violin parts from community orch are in two notebooks with post-its giving the composer and piece, but in no particular order. So, I do not have a system to recommend. Good luck!
I'm not sure the capacity of a "magazine box." I have seen "them" anywhere from about 4 to 18 inches deep. So 15 of them could be contain anywhere from about 5 to 22.5 cubic feet of music.
Tap each piece to wake it up. Then hold it. If it sparks joy, keep it. If not, get rid of it, but be sure to thank it for its service.
I had shelving. Then we moved, and now I have piles. Next plan: Filing cabinets.
"Julie, the haberdashery cabinets look amazing! I'm guessing they aren't all too easy to find, though."
Like Andrew, I find that filing cabinets with hanging files (pendaflex folders) is hard on music. They get curled and the edges get crushed. But if you do choose hanging files, then all you have to do with my system is take the music, say, an inch at a time (or whatever seems to fit comfortably in a hanging file) and label the folder with the number range, say 1-6, then 7-15, then 16-28, then 28-32, etc. The number of items in each folder will vary because of their different thicknesses. If you need a separate place for oversize things, then in your database in the comment field you need to put a keyword for that like "oversize" so that you will know to look there. Or you put a piece of colored cardstock in the hanging file with the number of the oversized item as a signal to look where you have oversized things.
Magazine boxes, sorted roughly by type (piano trios, violin concerti, beginner music, random instruments, etc.) and stored in a bookshelf. BUT the sad truth is that at any given time, 1/4 of it is strewn around the music room.
All I have at the moment is some foolscap-sized stackable plastic boxes from Lidl that lie on the floor. When I had a piano, all I had was a piano stool.
That reminds me that I have a bunch of loose sheet music -- particularly orchestra parts -- that were printed out or photocopied. I don't want to throw them out because I'll lose my fingerings. So I'm scanning them (iOS app ScannerPro) and saving the PDFs, which I can always import into ForScore for use at a later date -- or re-print. I have them Dropbox-archived.
Katie, I know what you mean, but when you start to organize by this or that, you'll see very quickly that it breaks down. Certain items just never fit in. By composer! But what about collections? By genre! So, early Beethoven goes in one box and late in another? And then what happens when you run out of room on your Classical shelf? You're shifting everything around then, leaving room for what you might buy in the future, etc. With the sequential numerical system all of that is totally obviated.
Most of my stuff is on 8 1/2 x 11 paper, so I three-hole punch it and store it in binders, sorted by composer. No computer is required, and new material can be inserted in sequence. I can have different binders for different instruments or groupings (quartet vs. orchestra, etc.).
One of my folk dance band colleagues is an elderly folk musician (English and Irish genres) who does not read music but learns by ear and stores all his music in his head. I too play in the band without the music in front of me, but I learn by a mixture of ear (mostly) and sheet music.