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This is probably a dumb question, but even after x years I feel I have never really found a good way to organize all my “lessons.” How do you organize your music stuff?? smile

I take lessons from a teacher, but I also add exercises from YouTube, and Patreon. Right now my teacher has been busy, so I’ve collected a number of PDFs of online lessons, exercises, morning/daily exercises, finger independence exercises, cool chord progression exercises, and bits of sheet music. Whatever I’m working on is on the music stand, but I often jump from one lesson to another as I see them fitting together, or I decided I have time to run through something else... then lose time looking for the right sheets of paper.

I used to practice for a shorter time, so it was easy to keep everything on the music stand. Now that I’m sitting down for longer periods, I’m going through more stuff. There is NOT a music stand big enough. LOL

I was of thinking of the obvious filing cabinet, but if I don’t see it I won’t remember I have it. Is anyone willing to share their version of the Marie Kondo of paper?

smile

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Originally Posted by Silverati 7
I take lessons from a teacher, but I also add exercises from YouTube, and Patreon. Right now my teacher has been busy, so I’ve collected a number of PDFs of online lessons, exercises, morning/daily exercises, finger independence exercises, cool chord progression exercises, and bits of sheet music. Whatever I’m working on is on the music stand, but I often jump from one lesson to another as I see them fitting together, or I decided I have time to run through something else... then lose time looking for the right sheets of paper.
Ah, the complications of spreading oneself out on so much stuff........ whistle

When I was a student, I carried all my music stuff in a small briefcase-like bag with an additional shoulder strap, that I could also sling over my shoulder. In it were the scores of all the pieces I was learning from my teacher, plus (in a side pocket) stuff I was having fun with on my own (mainly borrowed volumes of scores from the school music library) plus manuscript paper for composing/arranging/writing down music I'd heard, and of course pencils and erasers.

Now, based at home rather than having to use practice rooms in high school/university, I just have several volumes of music (complete sonatas by each composer as well as single works etc) on top of my piano, plus a couple of sheet music folders with inserts that I can add to, containing some of my sheet music (mostly from IMSLP) that I want to play regularly. The rest of my volumes which I don't currently play from are on shelves in a bookcase.

If you have lots of loose sheets on various subjects, it's worth getting a few folders designed for sheet music so that everything on one subject is in the same folder.


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I use three approaches that I have found help me keep the paper organized and readily available when I need it:

1 - Current lesson material (loose pages). I keep this material in a few transparent file pockets like these. That way the material is easily at hand and I don't have papers flying all over the place. I'm usually working on 3 pieces at a time, one or two related exercises and a chord/theory analysis of each piece.

2 - Finished lesson material (also loose pages). I use a large 3-ring binder with dividers. Each composer gets their own divider once I have done 2 or 3 pieces by him/her (the usuals, like Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, Heller, Kuhlau, etc.) I also have a divider for each of the major musical eras: Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Modern, etc. plus a few specific interests like Ragtime & Jazz. In these sections go works by composers from whom I have done only 1 piece (for example, Rameau, Prokofiev, Pollatschek, Shostakovich, Previn, etc.) and have no immediate expectation of doing more. It's a subjective decision as to when I make a new divider for a specific composer.

3 - Exercises, theory, chords & scales,. Also use a 3-ring binder for these. Dividers as I feel necessary.

I know the day will come when I outgrow the binders I currently use and then I'll have to think of something else. My bigger problem right now is organizing/storing all the bound volumes I have collected (WTC Books I & II and all my other Bach books, bound collected works of various composers, compilation volumes, Christmas music books, pop sheet music, etc.

Last edited by Pianosearcher; 10/01/20 10:08 PM.
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I belong to a music group. Every year new pieces on paper just keep on coming. Finally I've decided to put them into binders & folders by separating them into categories: concertos, symphonies, suites, opera scores, etc. I haven't got to the point of arranging pieces by title or composer.

Fortunately I don't have too many music books so I just keep a few that I would play in the next few months on the desk next to my keyboard & violin. The rest I keep in a cardboard box.

And there are scores on PDFs and image files I'd put them into sub-folders in the music folder on my computer by category: church hymns, Jazz, concertos, etc. Since the lockdown, my piano teacher has been sending pieces to my Email inbox instead of paper copies. I'd move the image files to different sub-folders like etudes, exercise pieces, etc.

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It's not that complicated. Just use three ring binders that are organized in whatever way works for you. I have around 50,000 pages of printed music organized that way(one binder with current pieces, another with recent pieces, and the rest of the binders by composer) and can find things pretty easily.

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On Android there apps like Mobilesheets (there an equivalent Apple one) the can suck in anything from a 1 page pdf to a whole fake book (or such) and let's you index them (or index individual pieces), build play lists etc. and can even work with peddles on an electronic piano as page turner.
I also use exPDF reader which has a pretty good index and "last read" list.
I have some ring binders, somewhere, god knows...

Last edited by mizmar; 10/02/20 10:18 AM.
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Thank you all for the ideas!

Pianosearcher - I love the see through folder idea. I have a 3 ring binder, but again I never remember what I have, I wanted something so I can see stuff more easily. This helps!! Also, I like dividing up working on, versus worked on. I can probably have a “this week folder” that is literally more transparent, then get better at organizing the rest.

bennevis - I can’t imagine having to carry all this schtuff around. LOL I was a TA for 3 classes in graduate school, plus a tutor. Carting around grading was a pain. I finally gave up and got roller cart. But thanks for reminding me this is less of a “pain” and really a joy to be able to accumulate a number of things I can work on. smile The answer is more binders, each with tabs. smile

A number of you mentioned apps/ storing stuff on my computer. I’m still an old school books and paper student. I use a TV tray table as a mini desk when working/practicing, since I’m always notating fingering. But I should probably consider getting a larger tablet at some point. I’ve seen the auto-page turners and that looks handy!

Thanks again and keep the ideas coming, please.

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I am a conductor/pianist. I have about a dozen boxes of scores and books which I have to somehow fit in my car every time I move. After my most recent move last month, I finally converted to using Ipad for everything besides performances (which of course does not exist right now). It's been such a bliss. I use an app called forScore, and I never need to worry about printing music and saving notes again. Of course it's a bit of an investment. The Ipad (12'9") costs $1000, apple pencil, which makes writing easier, is $120, and the app itself is $15, but it definitely worths the money if you print/buy music regularly like me.

I know this comment sounds totally like an ad :p

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Originally Posted by shy
I am a conductor/pianist. .... I use an app called forScore, and I never need to worry about printing music and saving notes again. Of course it's a bit of an investment. ...

I know this comment sounds totally like an ad :p
LOL Well, I would guess the best “testimonials” are really just ads. Thanks for your input. I will strongly consider looking at the larger tablets. My smaller sized one isn’t great for sheet music. I still have only less than two shelves of books and two binders of loose leaf papers, but I can see this only growing. I look forward to it growing! smile

I love my iBuddy, as I call it, because you can see what you have very easily. That was the main reason for my post. I can figure out how file and organize stuff. It was trying to figure out how to file it in a way so I can quickly see what I have, like Marie Kondo of sheet music. smile

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While I do prefer printed books, I now also use Henle and ForScore with my 12.9" iPad Pro for "loose pieces". I not only could get the sheet music instantly (and without buying a whole book), I can also do my markings and text it to my teacher for online lessons. Very convenient.

iPad Pro is a very expensive device but I've not regretted spending the money. I also use it for drawing, practise my Chinese calligraphy, watch videos, mark notes when reviewing work documents (can do this via live video stream with colleagues), use as a second monitor to my MacBook Pro etc. It is so many things!

Next is to get one of those Bluetooth foot pedals for page turning and I'm all set :-)


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I also use ForScore with a 12.9” ipad pro, Apple pencil, and an air turn page turner. I also purchased a good printer/scanner.

This was an excellent investment, worth every penny. I have about 2100 pieces scanned, and I can find anything quickly. Also, it’s easier to play from a screen, as it is well lit, and I don’t hesitate to mark up the music because it is very easy to change or remove markings.

I use playlists to organize things according to ‘in progress’, ‘planned’, ‘current’, etc.

I still have the sheet music, boxed up, but it’s unlikely that I will ever need it. I also have a huge amount of music not yet scanned but most is advanced stuff, so it can wait.


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