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Joined: Mar 2020
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Chummy Offline OP
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Hi guys

I work as a piano teacher at a community center

I am looking for advice or input as to possibly improve my workflow when it comes to handling sheet music.

Right now, I carry a huge binder, a smaller binder and several other books of sheet music to work
The reason I just don't leave everything there is cause although I work for the same employer in some days I go to a different center within the area. so I have everything in a container at the back of my car.
I also have like 90% of my sheet scanned and backed up on my PC and on my USB drive.
Both places have a printer/copy machine etc. at the office, whatever's nessecary for me.
The problem with all those binders and books etc. not so much as the carrying weight but the size of my binder which is overloaded and often sleeves get torn and misplaced within the whole thing and it's annoying to keep putting them back to their place / and replacing torn sleeves.

I was toying with the idea of just bringing my laptop or something with all the scanned stuff
not sure If I could potentially connect to the copy machine via wireless using my laptop? also not sure as to from your experience if this is a proper solution and has it worked for any of you guys. What are your thoughts? pros/cons? I do think aside from traveling lighter and not having to waste precious time sorting the binder I could also find sheet quickly on a PC since I've got it sorted by composer.. and also the onboard search function.

Any input whatsoever would be much appreciated. Thank you very much, sorry for long post.


Yo! I'm arranging sheet music for popular songs and soundtracks here
Consider checking out my YouTube
Feel free to PM me about sheet requests or anything <3

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I have also had the joy of toting a wheelie cart of music!

What I did was a Binder per day-
I had a divider for each student, and each had a front page with parent info, and a progress page where I mark my own notes.
Each student section is seeded with enrichment pages I have collected and created over the years per each student's level, that I know will aid in learning. (I do horizontal learning over vertical if student is want to practice, or needs more time on concepts so I present many different ways) I also keep a calendar TO DO list of what students need for next lesson.
ex)
Monday:
Susie- copy of her Disney song, new theory page, article about certain technique
Mark- going on vacation next week, needs pages to do on an airplane, mom requested
Ken- working on duet, bring book XYZ to help with concept Q
Macay- never practices, but mom wants new music each week. Often loses music, so I keep extra extra copies.
Jill- transfer student, working on filling in gaps, so I have two other curriculum books to work with her.
Barron- Post-it note birthday reminder, give bookmark and standard gift.
etc...
Now, for Christmas recitals, when every student plays at least two Christmas pieces, I had one stacks of alphabetized Christmas songs, each in graded levels. Originals are in plastic sleeves. I use Binder clips for each piece, and colored card stick paper with a stick out side tab with song title sturdily sticking out. Students say, "I want to play Song J." And odds are, I have it, or can have it by next week in their level. Once all Christmas recital music is chosen and distributed, I keep a master Binder of all their selections, in lesson order. After recital, I re-seed my giant stack of Christmas music.

Does that help?

I have to spend time organizing, but once it is set, it just takes a moment to pull what I need for the next lesson.

If you are expecting to walk in on Tuesday and student says, "I want piece F, you do not have to have it at that exact moment. Even if you do have a copy at hand, work with them on the skills they need for it. Next week, present it to them specially, like, "I did research and found this and marked it just for you. You learned (technique, concept, whatever) so here is your music, Ta-Da!"

Obligatory, be sure you are doing your best to honor copyright law.


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Chummy Offline OP
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interesting idea Belle, I haven't thought about having a binder for each teaching day...
This definitely makes for a much neater , faster and effective setup.
The thing is, at the start of the year usually some of the new students drop after a few lessons (between the first 1-3 months) and in case a student would have to switch a day or come in a different day his scheduled one (e.g complementary lesson) I just won't have his binder at my disposal. Even if I had time to prepare the transfer of material between binders at home beforehand flexibility is huge problem with that setup. Next year I am also expected to work about ~3 days in 2 different locations and it's quite a long drive each day to work, which is why flexibility is the most important factor for me.

But definitely a cool idea and I am glad it works for you!
I am not going to diss "per student" idea though, as I'll try to think of ways in which I can improve upon it/adjust to my needs or take something from it that's relevant for me.
Thanks again


Yo! I'm arranging sheet music for popular songs and soundtracks here
Consider checking out my YouTube
Feel free to PM me about sheet requests or anything <3

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Chummy, my PM was about this, and not online teaching. I addressed the laptop idea.

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Are you providing sheet music to every student? That seems unusual to me, and possibly a copyright violation, since you are doing it for pay. (This is not an educational exception, you are a working professional. Unless this is all public domain.)

For my personal practice I am gradually moving to all digital. I have a Kindle Fire 10 which is not quite big enough for my vision but would be for most people, and will eventually get a bigger tablet, either an Android, Chromebook, or iPad. Friends of mine do fine with the cheaper 11 inch iPad, I think I need the 12.9 though. A laptop is not conducive to being placed on a piano or a music stand unless it is one of those 2in1 convertible models.

My music is all stored on a microSD card in the Kindle. It is PDF format. I use Mobilesheets as a display program, as it has features like set list, half page turn (extremely valuable - one tap turns the top half of a page while you're still playing the bottom half). Friends of mine who use iPads use Forscore which is an equivalent program. Anyway, if you had Mobilesheets or an equivalent on a tablet, all pieces are in one file, but they can be arranged in setlists by student, by day of week, by location, etc.

My PDFs are all either public domain or from sheet music I've purchased, which is still a technical violation, but I am careful not to share any of it. This type of use is only possible recently so not everybody is sure how to approach the legalities.


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Chummy Offline OP
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@TimR

that's how teachers work, providing each student with sheet is a must in our line of work and I know of no teacher who does not do that at all. Sometimes I do ask parents to buy the book that depends on which one we're talking about but usually the super beginner stuff I just copy paste and there's not an infrigement because I'm not using any paid material without having paid for it myself or that my place of work bought (btw there're full scans of the thompson books and the likes on imslp however I bought them knowing I didn't have to). Since I am not a private teacher, a book which is a property of my workplace is allowed to be copied from to be used only by a student that is enrolled into it in the context of learning.

"My PDFs are all either public domain or from sheet music I've purchased, which is still a technical violation, but I am careful not to share any of it. This type of use is only possible recently so not everybody is sure how to approach the legalities."

Same here. If you purchase an original piece or an arrangement by a recent composer (1923 and up which is still copyrighted) but you are the only one who uses it among your inner circle of students then it's fair, everybody does this. The problem is when the sheet is used in a setting outside yours and your students' i.e your student copies it and gives it to a friend. That damages the sales as every teacher is expected to buy it once. Students come and go and nobody expects you to burn a purchase on every student having taught hundreds and more. If that were the case no teacher would ever use a purchased copyrighted sheet and that would damage sales immensely. This is the exact reason why publishers know this and there is no strict enforcement of it.

I do have my own arrangements too to spice things up, usually of popular stuff, songs, movie soundtracks and technique.

Since you work with a Kindle how does your students have the scores to play at home? are they expected to have their own tablets as well or do you print out the sheet from your own?

This topic is not about copyright violation tho, you don't know me, but my integrity is undeniable not that it matters for the discussion.


Yo! I'm arranging sheet music for popular songs and soundtracks here
Consider checking out my YouTube
Feel free to PM me about sheet requests or anything <3

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Originally Posted by TimR
My PDFs are all either public domain or from sheet music I've purchased, which is still a technical violation, but I am careful not to share any of it.

Oh, my god. I'm shocked to hear this from you, of all people.

Originally Posted by TimR
This type of use is only possible recently so not everybody is sure how to approach the legalities.

When in doubt, err on the side of caution.


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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by TimR
My PDFs are all either public domain or from sheet music I've purchased, which is still a technical violation, but I am careful not to share any of it.

Oh, my god. I'm shocked to hear this from you, of all people.

Originally Posted by TimR
This type of use is only possible recently so not everybody is sure how to approach the legalities.

When in doubt, err on the side of caution.

I'm talking about my personal practice material, not anything I use with my groups or for performance. That is all purchased original copies. But your point is well taken.

I do notice that the number of people who scan music and use the digital copies is growing, and I wonder a bit when that will become an issue. I see a few people in community bands that do this, but that's a shrinking niche segment of music. However I've been to a couple of orchestra concerts where the majority of strings were using tablets and turning pages with a foot operated Bluetooth connected pedal. The convenience is there (we brass don't have as many notes, the page turns are not as onerous) but that's all copyrighted published music.


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Originally Posted by Chummy
@TimR

I just copy paste and there's not an infrigement because I'm not using any paid material without having paid for it myself or that my place of work bought

If you purchase an original piece or an arrangement by a recent composer (1923 and up which is still copyrighted) but you are the only one who uses it among your inner circle of students then it's fair, everybody does this. .

Since you work with a Kindle how does your students have the scores to play at home?

We've diverted a bit from the original post into copyright law, that does happen sometimes.

I'm sure you are well intentioned and have high integrity but you are wrong about copyright law. These are clear violations. There are "fair use" exceptions but this is not even close.

I do work with a Kindle but for personal practice only. I don't teach any piano.
With my handbell players I purchase all original copies. That's a pain and an expense because they put lots of pencil marks on it and often the pieces become unusable by others, but these are eventually performed in church and I can't expose my church to liability. For the occasional brass student I tell them what they have to purchase and give them links to public domain works that they print themselves.


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Originally Posted by TimR
Originally Posted by Chummy
@TimR

I just copy paste and there's not an infrigement because I'm not using any paid material without having paid for it myself or that my place of work bought

If you purchase an original piece or an arrangement by a recent composer (1923 and up which is still copyrighted) but you are the only one who uses it among your inner circle of students then it's fair, everybody does this. .

Since you work with a Kindle how does your students have the scores to play at home?

We've diverted a bit from the original post into copyright law, that does happen sometimes.

I'm sure you are well intentioned and have high integrity but you are wrong about copyright law. These are clear violations. There are "fair use" exceptions but this is not even close.

I do work with a Kindle but for personal practice only. I don't teach any piano.
With my handbell players I purchase all original copies. That's a pain and an expense because they put lots of pencil marks on it and often the pieces become unusable by others, but these are eventually performed in church and I can't expose my church to liability. For the occasional brass student I tell them what they have to purchase and give them links to public domain works that they print themselves.


Tim, you personally created the diversion into copyright law. Since you have done this, why don’t you provide links/documents of an authoritative source? This is important so there is substantiation for what should be done.


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Originally Posted by dogperson
Tim, you personally created the diversion into copyright law. Since you have done this, why don’t you provide links/documents of an authoritative source? This is important so there is substantiation for what should be done.

I would probably claim that both the OP and I caused the diversion, as the need to manage massive amounts of sheet music is driven in this case by providing it to students, but I'll concede the point.

I had some links saved, all of them came back File Not Found except this one:
https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/copyright-for-the-church-musician

It is oriented towards church musicians, of which I am one, but has general applicability.

Basically copyright prohibits reproduction by any method, with a few exceptions, none of which apply to routine piano teaching. (Some discussions about pedagogy might require illustrations using small exerpts.)


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Originally Posted by TimR
Basically copyright prohibits reproduction by any method, with a few exceptions, none of which apply to routine piano teaching. (Some discussions about pedagogy might require illustrations using small exerpts.)

I hope the OP is reading this.


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I am not wading in to the copyright stuff.

Have you considered a portable printer. They are small, run on battery power, and print wirelessly. The HP Office Jet Pro 202 can be had for about 200 dollars. Carry one bag with printer, laptop and paper.

Seems more organized than a bunch of binders.

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If there is a printer on the premises which is compatible, then even the portable printer is unnecessary. There are some teachers who have their own teaching material in electronic form, and and who do in fact do this. You can even type out and print out the week's assignment, which if the student bothers to read and follow, might improve results for the week.

Something I've wondered about reading the discussion. When I was teaching, the teacher store carried material that was meant by the publisher to be copied by teachers. Typically these were worksheets on some subject matter. Does such a thing exist for music?

Meanwhile, when I was studying in a more traditional way, the material was RCM. Each student had to buy the book of grade X pieces, and that lasted for the year or whatever period, and a technical book that covered 4 grades. ofc either could be supplemented. But it wasn't the teacher who carried around the music a student played: it was the student who brought their book to lessons. (?)

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Originally Posted by keystring
Something I've wondered about reading the discussion. When I was teaching, the teacher store carried material that was meant by the publisher to be copied by teachers. Typically these were worksheets on some subject matter. Does such a thing exist for music?

Yes.

I don't know how common it is. But I had a subscription to St James Press that provided digital downloads with unlimited reproduction, and used this quite a bit for church music.


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Based on this article in Legal Review,
https://repository.law.umich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1218&context=articles

there is a difference between personal use and fair use. To the extent my use is analogous to recording a TV show or making an MP3 from a CD I've purchased, my scanning of practice material for my own enjoyment and study would be personal use and therefore legal, whether public domain or not. That includes private performance.

For me to use the scan as teaching material or public performance material would be a violation.

This was a fairly dense 51 page article but interesting and worth the read. This is an international forum, so US law may not apply. Australian copyright law is considerably different, I've just found out.


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Thanks, Tim for finding this. It is a fascinating article. Our church choir has debated the question of whether it is a violation of copywriter law to change a word or two in a hymn or to change a note that one section can't reach. Seems like this is a public performance, but in a private facility. No one had an answer.


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On the OT. Is this US law or international?

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Originally Posted by SoundThumb
Thanks, Tim for finding this. It is a fascinating article. Our church choir has debated the question of whether it is a violation of copywriter law to change a word or two in a hymn or to change a note that one section can't reach. Seems like this is a public performance, but in a private facility. No one had an answer.

I had a link that seemed to address that but it will take me some time to dig it out again.

I've worked with some picky church music directors but that is something that they did routinely. I'm guessing it was a change insufficient to create a derivative work. (as long as you did it with a pencil, rather than photocopying or typing into a notation program)

Here's an example of something I did that they did object to.

As our choir has many who do not really sightread, I made recordings of new pieces with one part prominent. I typed the parts into a notation program, then set three voices to mp and one to mf or f, so that they could clearly hear their part in context. It's easy to then save it four times as four files and email it.

Well, our director pointed out that putting it into notation was reproduction, and we were not authorized to reproduce. Oops.


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