From the sublime...
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,412
    You know how socks get lost in the dryer? Well, the same thing happens in my music library. I mean, not with socks but with sheet music for the choir.

    What works? Numbering? Names?

    What especially works with an expanding choir, and a growing use of instruments?
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    My wife and I have a reasonably simple system: alphabetize by composer/author and then by title in the file cabinets. This is cross-referenced to a "catalog," an MS Access database that lists author, title, biblical passages, season/Sunday/Feast, orchestration/voice ranges, difficulty, language, etc. (i.e., every practical detail imaginable). With the sort feature in Access, you can easily find any combination of music. Once you know what you want, it is a simple roll of the chair to the file cabinets. It requires a ton of folders for a larger library, but the organization is worth the investment, IMO.
  • I have the same issue re: musical mishaps...may I suggest writing a hymn or even composing a song to St. Anthony? Problem solved, including the aforementioned socks. Especially the argyle!

    Oh boy it's good to be back :)

  • Strange. I do almost exactly what Doug does, right down to the Access database. It works wonders. I have both choir and instrumental music cataloged the same way. Need an organ piece based on a specific hymn tune? It's right there. Great way to organize things. It takes a while to get everything organized this way initially, but after that it's just cataloging anything new that comes in.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,412
  • rich_enough
    Posts: 916
    The other method is to simply number your folders as your catalog them (and then as you acquire them). Then you don't have to worry about your shelves being organized (except by a single number) - all of your organizing is the database itself. You can then generate lists of different categories of music (Christmas, music for three voices, etc, etc) from the database. Yo find music by looking at the database: if it says the piece is #457 on the shelves, there it is.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,565
    In the choir in which I sing, a number is assigned to each musician (the order of assignment does not matter, though it can help to save ranges of numbers (you can interpolate, by adding A or B, et cet. as needed) for a given voice, so that markings can be conserved as relevant to succeeding singers in a given voice), and the copies of music are numbered serially and put in folders for each musician, and handed back, et cet.

    Unfortunately every system has it's inescapable quirk....
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    After reading Liam's post, I realize now that you might have been asking a different question than the one I answered! How to keep track of parts once they are out, as opposed to sorting them once they come back in.

    Liam's method is essentially what I have experienced as an orchestral musician and an orchestral librarian charged with folder stuffing.

    For the choir, I'm assuming that all singers will sing from the same sheets/octavos/books, as opposed to an "alto part." Numbering each copy of a song and then assigning numbers/folders to specific singers will definitely keep things together. I especially like the idea of assigning numbers based on vocal range, because then the music is usable by a new singer when the time comes.

    For the instrumentalists, you could create folders for Violin 1, Violin 2, Clarinet 1, Clarinet 2 (or whatever you have), and number the parts in a corresponding fashion (Vln1, Vln 2).

    One last idea: at her last job, which was a very small choir, my wife would put all the music in liturgical order and put each piece in 3-hole-punched sleeves so that no one would be tempted to take it out of order. This works for single sheets or multiple leaves (just use the appropriate office product), and it makes removal and clean up a snap.

    The general principle is to keep the part and the folder together. Then make sure each person gets one and only one folder. If someone happens to sing and play in two different roles, I would give one folder for each role. (This last suggestion might be overkill for the musician, but trust me, it makes things easier during clean up--no violin parts stuffed into the book of anthems, or whatever.)
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,412
    When using the Access database, do you assign a piece of music a catalogue number? Or would you suggest using a title/author combination as the primary identifier of a piece?