Organizing Printed Music

Most of us music teachers have advanced well beyond the stage of OPBS (Overflowing Piano Bench Syndrome) into OBSS (Overflowing Book Shelf Syndrome). Books and sheet music are piled onto shelf after shelf, and it is a well-kept secret as to which book or piece is in which stack. 🙂 I just received an e-mail this week from a teacher wanting suggestions on how to organize all that music in a more efficient manner. So, I thought I would post some pictures of one way that I’ve come up with of organizing music. All you need is a file cabinet, or perhaps I should say several file cabinets if you have as much music as I’ve managed to accumulate!

FILE CABINET ONE – a wonderful 4-drawer lateral file that I couldn’t live without!

Drawer One (Top)

Method Books arranged by level – Primer Off-Staff, Primer On-Staff, Level One, Level Two, etc.; Supplemental Technique Books; Supplemental Theory Books; Sight-reading resources.

Drawer Two

Repertoire arranged according to Time Period – Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Late Romantic/Impressionistic, 20th Century. Within each of the categories, the books and sheets are placed alphabetically according to the last name of the composer. Following the chronologically arranged files are anthologies according to level – intermediate, advanced (I just had to move the elementary level anthologies to the next drawer down because this one was getting too full).

Drawer Three

Supplemental books and sheets arranged according to level – beginner, elementary, late elementary, early intermediate, intermediate, late intermediate, advanced. Each category contains file folders with sheet music first followed by file folders with books. Following those are folders for Arrangements & Transcriptions, Concertos, and Elementary Classical Repertoire Anthologies.

Drawer Four

Miscellaneous categories – seasonal music (mostly patriotic music), movie music, wedding music, songs; I also have a section for my Duds – books or sheets I don’t want anymore and want to send on the next time I receive the Duds Box.

FILE CABINET TWO – a 5-drawer standard sized cabinet (just make sure you get the kind where the drawers pull all the way out!)

Drawer One and Two – still empty, or just a storage for some hymnals, old studio assignment books, etc.

Drawer Three

Duet and Ensemble Music – Elementary 1P4H, Intermediate 1P4H, Advanced 1P4H, Teacher/Student Duets, 1P6H, 2P4H, 2P8H, Other Ensemble (P=Piano, H=Hand)

Drawer Four

Christmas Music – Elementary, Intermediate, Advanced, Piano Duet, Piano Trio, Other Ensemble

Drawer Five

Sacred Music – Elementary, Intermediate, Advanced, Piano Duet, Other Ensemble

This has proved to be an easy-to-maintain system for my studio. Not only can I find and pull any given piece of music in a matter of seconds, but my students also know where to look for certain music. All of my music is a part of the studio lending library. Students are permitted to look through the file cabinets at any time and check out music to take home with them. And now that I use the handy Lending Library feature on Music Teacher’s Helper, I’m much less likely to permanently lose books and pieces of sheet music!

Share and enjoy!

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