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#2914361 - 03/11/18 06:38 PM How do you organize loose sheet music?
yamahaahamay Offline
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Registered: 05/28/14
Posts: 14
... and "ipad" is, unfortunately, not an acceptable answer (at least for now).

I have a lot (maybe a few hundred pages) of loose letter size sheet music: classical, vocal, jazz/rock leads, parts, etc. I know I want the jazz/rock alphabetized by song title, and the classical by composer.

I can't decide whether to hole-punch it all and put it into binders (possibly with sheet protectors, but that might get involved), or use manila folders and a file cabinet.

Does anyone have any insight on this? I know I should digitize everything, but I'm holding off until it seems more necessary (if that day ever comes).

THANKS

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#2914374 - 03/11/18 08:28 PM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: yamahaahamay]
MoodyBluesKeys Offline
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Registered: 03/27/08
Posts: 3421
Loc: eastern North Carolina
I keep sheets like that in a number of 3" and 4" binders. One group for band stuff, another (smaller) for choral. The sheets are placed in protectors, which also means I don't have to hole punch the sheets themselves. Some songs have more than one key versions.
I weekly put stuff back in the binders and put new stuff in a small binder for the set list for the next set.

I have some file cabinets, but think that would be less useful. One would pretty much have to use hanging dividers, and putting a single piece per divider would use way too much space. OTOH, either way should work.
If my iPad was one of the 12" ones, I might try just digitizing, if not all at once, as needed; but a regular size iPad isn't big enough for my eyesight.
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#2914376 - 03/11/18 08:37 PM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: MoodyBluesKeys]
J. Dan Offline
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I throw it in a big heaping mess in my piano bench then route through it to find the pages that go together during the few occasions like Christmas when I might want/need to bust out some sheet music. When I'm done, I haphazardly toss it all back in the piano bench. I'm a rebel like that. I don't conform to rules of sheet music organization.
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#2914381 - 03/11/18 09:36 PM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: J. Dan]
elseif Offline
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Registered: 05/30/15
Posts: 98
Loc: FL space coast
I can offer no suggestion. It is scattered hither and thither throughout the house. It's stacked in various cabinets, top shelves of closets, stuck between books in bookshelves. One of my best sources for my early stuff is previous band members. "Well, it does look like my hand."

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#2914384 - 03/11/18 09:56 PM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: elseif]
Sven Golly Offline
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Registered: 11/12/03
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Do not hole punch it; paper is easily torn with the amount of page flipping and removing/resorting you're likely to do.

Use these:



Use non-gloss/low-glare versions for improved legibility in a variety of lighting conditions.

Of course, I personally reject your "no iPad" rule. wink
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#2914385 - 03/11/18 09:58 PM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: Sven Golly]
J. Dan Offline
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Loc: St. Louis, MO
Somebody needs to google how to shrink images.
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Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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#2914386 - 03/11/18 09:58 PM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: Sven Golly]
MathOfInsects Online   content
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Registered: 02/04/15
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Loc: California
I use those . ^^^^^^^^^

But mostly an ipad.
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#2914388 - 03/11/18 10:36 PM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: J. Dan]
Sven Golly Offline
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Originally Posted By: J. Dan
Somebody needs to google how to shrink images.


LOL, pasted the wrong URL, apologies. wink
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#2914391 - 03/11/18 11:34 PM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: Sven Golly]
AnalogGuy1 Offline
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Registered: 08/30/11
Posts: 222
Loc: Eastern US
I scan them and save them as pdfs with a descriptive name (title, composer, band known for playing it). Then I put the pdf files into one big directory - every system I've tried to use to divide them further has failed me. But the windows search feature is so good, it no longer matters.

Then to print the gig's setlist I drag copies of the pdfs into a folder. I use a program I wrote to choose their ordering and auto-assembles them into one big pdf that can be printed duplex and that minimizes page turns (e.g. inserts a blank page if needed so the next two page spread lays open). If you'd like the program, and if you use Windows, I'm happy to share.

So every time we make a new setlist, it gets its own custom songbook. A divider at the end adds extra songs should we blow through the set faster than expected, as well as holds a few commonly asked for songs. I do hole-punch them, but I'm not nervous about anything ripping; I'll probably throw it out before a couple of months when new songs get rotated in.

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#2914395 - 03/12/18 12:21 AM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: AnalogGuy1]
Bobadohshe Offline
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Registered: 12/25/06
Posts: 5895
Loc: San Diego / Los Angeles
I have tons of stuff organized in different ways:

-For gigs with various artists, they each have a manila folder with their material. Each manila folder has their name on it. I also have manila folders that say stuff like 'Jewish fake book tunes' or 'Mexican Tunes' or 'lessons with XXX' or 'misc rare lead sheets' or 'transcriptions'. Each of these manila folders probably only has no more than 30 sheets in it.

-For more frequent gigs with more material I have binders. One says 'classical' and it's a binder full of good backgroundy classical pieces I can play without having to practice much. I can grab and go play a few hours of classical and the binder is gig ready. I have a binder that says 'weddings' that has all the standard wedding tunes. I have a huge binder of tunes for my baseball organ gig. Etc etc.
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#2914399 - 03/12/18 01:16 AM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: Bobadohshe]
Analogaddict Offline
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Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 3209
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
I scan everything with JotNot on my iPhone, or directly into Forscore on my iPad. I then make a backup to my Dropbox, just in case. Everything I do in Sibelius gets a pdf and a sib folder, also in my Dropbox. This has facilitated everything I do, it basically means that I always have everything with me. The papers stay at home.

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#2914406 - 03/12/18 04:05 AM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: Analogaddict]
WesG Offline
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Registered: 02/16/13
Posts: 3407
Loc: Inverary, ON, Canada
Filing cabinet, file folders.

Sheet music is bigger than 8.5 x 11", making it very difficult to source sheet protectors or binders that fit properly.

Stuff that goes to the gig goes in one of those big brown expanding envelope things. $20 for 5 at Staples.
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#2914407 - 03/12/18 04:11 AM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: J. Dan]
Synthoid Offline
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Registered: 12/04/03
Posts: 10385
Loc: Pennsylvania, USA
Originally Posted By: J. Dan
I throw it in a big heaping mess in my piano bench then route through it to find the pages that go together during the few occasions like Christmas when I might want/need to bust out some sheet music. When I'm done, I haphazardly toss it all back in the piano bench. I'm a rebel like that. I don't conform to rules of sheet music organization.


Cool... me too. grin
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#2914411 - 03/12/18 04:58 AM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: Synthoid]
Coker Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 02/13/16
Posts: 159
Loc: Connecticut
I copy the music onto extra thick paper stock I bought at Staples, then that goes into different three-inch three-hole punch binders based on the band type. Usually the holes donít rip out, but if they do, I fold pieces of packing tape over the offending edge and pinch again. Nothing beats paper for making quick annotations.

As I get better with melodies, I use paper less and less and rely on iReal Pro on my phone.


Edited by Coker (03/12/18 04:59 AM)
Edit Reason: Addition
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#2914427 - 03/12/18 05:59 AM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: AnalogGuy1]
cedar Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 10/04/14
Posts: 1021
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: AnalogGuy1
I scan them and save them as pdfs with a descriptive name (title, composer, band known for playing it). Then I put the pdf files into one big directory - every system I've tried to use to divide them further has failed me. But the windows search feature is so good, it no longer matters.

Then to print the gig's setlist I drag copies of the pdfs into a folder. I use a program I wrote to choose their ordering and auto-assembles them into one big pdf that can be printed duplex and that minimizes page turns (e.g. inserts a blank page if needed so the next two page spread lays open). If you'd like the program, and if you use Windows, I'm happy to share.

So every time we make a new setlist, it gets its own custom songbook. A divider at the end adds extra songs should we blow through the set faster than expected, as well as holds a few commonly asked for songs. I do hole-punch them, but I'm not nervous about anything ripping; I'll probably throw it out before a couple of months when new songs get rotated in.


I would love to have your program. I have gone through the same preliminary steps. I broke down all my fake books into individual PDFs for each song, and put them in one huge directory. For a while, I had a spreadsheet with links to the entire directory. But I do not have any ability to assemble collections of tunes and insert blank pages so as to minimize page turning during sets. That sounds very useful.

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#2914486 - 03/12/18 10:27 AM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: cedar]
AWkeys Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 05/06/11
Posts: 181
I have an almost full plastic bin filled with charts that I've written for numerous gigs with different bands/projects/tributes over the years, sorted with manila folders.

For recurring gigs, I scan the charts and put the PDFs in my iPad.

Seems like other people have better organization skills than me!

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#2914488 - 03/12/18 10:31 AM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: WesG]
Sven Golly Offline
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Originally Posted By: WesG
Sheet music is bigger than 8.5 x 11", making it very difficult to source sheet protectors or binders that fit properly.


True, but since the OP specifically stated "letter sized" I took him at his word. I'll hazard a guess it's not commercially purchased product we're talking about, if it's truly A4/letter sized.
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#2914492 - 03/12/18 10:42 AM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: Sven Golly]
Rusty Mike Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 10/05/10
Posts: 847
Loc: Central NJ
Primary method: iPad
Secondary for paper music currently in use: clear plastic sleeves in a series of binders based on purpose
Tertiary: Organized by band or music type, then alphabetical by title. Manila and tabbed folders in a few different types of bins

Prior to using the iPad, I used three ring binders with sheet protectors. For big band, I'm turning too many pages to leave them hole punched and unprotected. And I hate the 8-page fan foldouts that some MDs create. The books for both big bands eventually got way too voluminous and heavy, which was the catalyst for moving it all to the iPad. Now, when the MD hands out a new chart, I bring it home to scan and then hand it back.

I rarely bring paper to rehearsals or gigs any more. I use the paper music for practice here in the house or my piano lesson.

I should just scan everything I own and get rid of the paper. Keep in on the computer until I need a print or drop it onto the iPad.
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#2914516 - 03/12/18 12:32 PM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: Rusty Mike]
Raymb1 Offline
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Registered: 05/07/13
Posts: 398
Loc: Sterling, VA
I pad, kindle or android tablet/phone. That's the way to go now-a-days, unless you memorize everything (the best way).
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#2914519 - 03/12/18 12:39 PM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: J. Dan]
MotiDave Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 12/04/12
Posts: 1871
Loc: San Diego, CA USA
Originally Posted By: J. Dan
I throw it in a big heaping mess in my piano bench then route through it to find the pages that go together during the few occasions like Christmas when I might want/need to bust out some sheet music. When I'm done, I haphazardly toss it all back in the piano bench. I'm a rebel like that. I don't conform to rules of sheet music organization.


I add a twist to your well constructed method after I've finished with my immediate use and stuffed it randomly in a receptacle. 6 months or a year later when I go to retrieve it, I stop trying to figure out which pages are which after 2 minutes and I just reprint it. I add this new version to the existing "library" once done with it again - my library has grown 3-fold in the last 2 yrs without adding a single new song.
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#2914550 - 03/12/18 03:03 PM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: MotiDave]
MurMan Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 11/17/03
Posts: 933
Loc: San Diego
Originally Posted By: J. Dan
I throw it in a big heaping mess in my piano bench then route through it to find the pages that go together during the few occasions like Christmas when I might want/need to bust out some sheet music. When I'm done, I haphazardly toss it all back in the piano bench. I'm a rebel like that. I don't conform to rules of sheet music organization.

This really makes me laugh. The only thing in my piano bench is Christmas music, carefully organized using the J. Dan method. twothumbs
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#2914552 - 03/12/18 03:32 PM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: MurMan]
WesG Offline
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Registered: 02/16/13
Posts: 3407
Loc: Inverary, ON, Canada
I took an organ bench to a gig with me last year - opened it up to stow my wallet only to find some charts that had been missing for a year! LOL
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#2914611 - 03/13/18 03:38 AM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: WesG]
Ulf Offline
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Registered: 10/23/14
Posts: 362
Originally Posted By: WesG
I took an organ bench to a gig with me last year - opened it up to stow my wallet only to find some charts that had been missing for a year! LOL


...so now you'll be missing your wallet instead? smile
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#2914613 - 03/13/18 03:54 AM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: WesG]
Synthoid Offline
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Registered: 12/04/03
Posts: 10385
Loc: Pennsylvania, USA
Originally Posted By: WesG
I took an organ bench to a gig with me last year - opened it up to stow my wallet only to find some charts that had been missing for a year!


And half of a peanut butter sandwich... w00t

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To stop the flow of music would be like the stopping of time itself, incredible and inconceivable.
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#2914783 - 03/13/18 07:44 PM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: yamahaahamay]
CowboyNQ Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 06/14/15
Posts: 893
Loc: Adelaide, Australia
Originally Posted By: yamahaahamay
... and "ipad" is, unfortunately, not an acceptable answer (at least for now).

I can't decide whether to hole-punch it all and put it into binders (possibly with sheet protectors, but that might get involved), or use manila folders and a file cabinet.

I am adherent to the "digitise" philosophy, however...

...as a back up, I also keep copies of all my charts in A4 presentation folders, which have plastic sleeves contained within. I prefer this to one great big folder as the presentation folders are a bit easier to carry around.

As Sven highlighted above, one needs to be careful with glare off plastic sheeting under lights. My less elegant solution is to keep the top of my music stand loose so I can quickly swivel it to avoid reflections if need be.

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#2914790 - 03/13/18 08:33 PM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: WesG]
Dave Ferris Offline
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Registered: 03/05/07
Posts: 5899
Loc: Glendale, Ca.
Originally Posted By: WesG
Sheet music is bigger than 8.5 x 11", making it very difficult to source sheet protectors or binders that fit properly


You have to become well skilled at reducing. I can do an ok job on my aging HP printer but if it's something important - I should really pay someone to re-copy digitally but I'm too cheap..lol- I take it over to Valle Music where he has a very expensive machine that can reduce by fractions, so you can get it as large as possible, yet still fit into a 8.5 X 11 binder.

And yes get the non-glare sheets. I can't tell you how many times I've turned to a page in someone's notebook and had to try and decipher the page because of the glare on a stand light. My head moves and bobs to try and get the right angle on it - I look like one of those bobble-head dolls.

Although I will say my new Aria Diva light eliminates a majority of the glare you get with your typical Manhasset style light. Expensive but highly recommended.
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#2915021 - 03/14/18 06:57 PM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: Dave Ferris]
WesG Offline
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Registered: 02/16/13
Posts: 3407
Loc: Inverary, ON, Canada
BTW, I am the only one who uses overhead markers to markup charts with page protectors on them?
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Hammond: L111, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, B3
Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 31H
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#2915034 - 03/14/18 09:06 PM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: CowboyNQ]
Paul Harrison Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/20/11
Posts: 404
Loc: Adelaide, Australia
Originally Posted By: CowboyNQ
I am adherent to the "digitise" philosophy, however ... as a back up, I also keep copies of all my charts in A4 presentation folders, which have plastic sleeves contained within.


Ditto. I make charts with MuseScore, print them to PDF files, and keep them on a 10" Android tablet using MobileSheets, which includes a metronome, mp3 player, annotations, and setlists ... but I also keep printed copies in plastic sleeves (arranged alphabetically) in an A4 folder as a backup.

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#2915089 - 03/15/18 06:09 AM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: cedar]
AnalogGuy1 Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/30/11
Posts: 222
Loc: Eastern US
Originally Posted By: cedar
Originally Posted By: AnalogGuy1
I scan them and save them as pdfs with a descriptive name (title, composer, band known for playing it). Then I put the pdf files into one big directory - every system I've tried to use to divide them further has failed me. But the windows search feature is so good, it no longer matters.

Then to print the gig's setlist I drag copies of the pdfs into a folder. I use a program I wrote to choose their ordering and auto-assembles them into one big pdf that can be printed duplex and that minimizes page turns (e.g. inserts a blank page if needed so the next two page spread lays open). If you'd like the program, and if you use Windows, I'm happy to share.

So every time we make a new setlist, it gets its own custom songbook. A divider at the end adds extra songs should we blow through the set faster than expected, as well as holds a few commonly asked for songs. I do hole-punch them, but I'm not nervous about anything ripping; I'll probably throw it out before a couple of months when new songs get rotated in.


I would love to have your program. I have gone through the same preliminary steps. I broke down all my fake books into individual PDFs for each song, and put them in one huge directory. For a while, I had a spreadsheet with links to the entire directory. But I do not have any ability to assemble collections of tunes and insert blank pages so as to minimize page turning during sets. That sounds very useful.


Here they are.

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#2915166 - 03/15/18 10:37 AM Re: How do you organize loose sheet music? [Re: AnalogGuy1]
cedar Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 10/04/14
Posts: 1021
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: AnalogGuy1
Originally Posted By: cedar
Originally Posted By: AnalogGuy1
I scan them and save them as pdfs with a descriptive name (title, composer, band known for playing it). Then I put the pdf files into one big directory - every system I've tried to use to divide them further has failed me. But the windows search feature is so good, it no longer matters.

Then to print the gig's setlist I drag copies of the pdfs into a folder. I use a program I wrote to choose their ordering and auto-assembles them into one big pdf that can be printed duplex and that minimizes page turns (e.g. inserts a blank page if needed so the next two page spread lays open). If you'd like the program, and if you use Windows, I'm happy to share.

So every time we make a new setlist, it gets its own custom songbook. A divider at the end adds extra songs should we blow through the set faster than expected, as well as holds a few commonly asked for songs. I do hole-punch them, but I'm not nervous about anything ripping; I'll probably throw it out before a couple of months when new songs get rotated in.


I would love to have your program. I have gone through the same preliminary steps. I broke down all my fake books into individual PDFs for each song, and put them in one huge directory. For a while, I had a spreadsheet with links to the entire directory. But I do not have any ability to assemble collections of tunes and insert blank pages so as to minimize page turning during sets. That sounds very useful.


Here they are.


Thanks!

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