How do you organise your sheet music?

How do you organise your sheet music?

No comments knocking us sheet music learners please.

I keep all the print outs in a ring binder in plastic sleeves but it can be really frustrating. I will know what tune I want to play but I can’t quite recall how it goes and it can take me like 5 minutes sometimes to finally find the tune since I haven’t ordered the file very well. This is usually accompanied by alot of shouting and swearing at the rigmarole of what should be a very simple task.

It is only getting worse the more tunes I collect so I’ve wondered for a while if there is a better way.

It would be much easier to access the sheets straight from my computer. I’m not sure why I haven’t done that. My computer is in the same room as I practice so it wouldn’t take any rearranging. I’d just haveto stand in a different place- in front of the computer rather than behind. A valid reason though is that I spend my whole day working at my computer so even a little move to another area is good for the mind.

I suppose I will just spend a while better cataloging the folder into some sort of better order.

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

I have a binder of sheet music organized in several sections. One section is a complete tunebook. The rest is simply grouped by tune types—jigs, reels, hornpipes, misc., etc. I’ll put tunes I’m interested in learning (or remembering that I know) at the beginning of their respective sections.

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

I just use the "tunebook" function here on thesession. Works well for me, but of course, I only have about 50 tunes down total.

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

I feel your pain. I use my tunebook as my main library and print out the tunes I wish to practice, learn and memorize. I haven’t yet compiled a binder but am thinking of doing this and filing the tunes alphabetically and under tune types.

But for now I start with a stack of printouts of the ones I want to learn, pull two or three that really get my attention and that I like grouped as a set and then work on those. Once I have the tunes memorized, they go to the bottom of the pile and I pick two or three more.

But it is kind of tricky trying to remember all the tunes I have learned, since some parts of a given tune sometimes sound very similar to another tune and I wind up being in "the right church but the wrong pew." It gets better the more I practice, and I often make mental notes that keep me from getting confused on a certain tune.

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

I have display books of jigs only and reels only and also a book of tunes that a band I play with uses. For me it’s not good to mix up the tune types. Because they are in a display book I can easily switch them round to make up tune sets. The book sits easily on the music stand and there are not loads of bits of paper piling up and getting lost etc etc.

I write down tune names in BIG LETTERS on the manuscripts so I can find what I want quickly. I don’t bother to use alphabetical order.

I also have lots of beermats and scruffy bits of paper with unreadable scrawl on. These are the most important written materials as they will be titles of tunes that really grabbed me at the time I heard them. I also retain my old setlists from gigs that may become useful in the future.

I also have an Access database with the names of all the tunes I can play from memory. I can pull tunes out by key or tune type by using the query function.

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

Hi, Arthur. Way back, I worked as a records manager (paper files, not music recordings), and I learned something valuable: Don’t organize the physical files, organize an index of them. As you collect music, just put each acquisition behind the last one. Number each one. Create a list using Excel on your computer including the title and number. That list can be sorted alphabetically at will. With that list, it doesn’t matter what sequence the actual music is in; all you need to know is the page number, and there it will be. The alpha list makes the tune easy to find on the list, and once you have the page number, as long as you put it back where it came from, finding music should take less time than you spent reading this.

Cheers.

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Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

And just to add to my earlier post, once I have learned a tune I tweak it based on recordings I have heard and like, or based on what I like. And, of course, there have been times when I really like a recording of a tune and it sounds quite different than the sheet music I see. So I set about learning that tune by ear from the recording.

I am a classically trained musician (piano and clarinet), but I have committed to myself that I am not going to be a slave to the dots. They can surely help me learn something in a general sense but how the tune sounds to me and how it makes me feel take priority. That is what I love about ITM.

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

That’s a super idea, Ailin! Thanks for sharing it!

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

Since I came to play flute just a few years ago and a good chunk of the music I was learning was coming from here and other online sources, I decided to rethink how I handled sheet music. In the end, all my flute music is stored as pdf’s on my 10" tablet. The tablet is plenty large enough to read the music, since it’s in pdf format I can use Acrobat to search for within the pdf titles or other keywords, it’s backlit so I don’t need a light to read the music, and I can use folders or file naming strategies to further categorize the music.

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

I finally made the switch from paper to completely digital about 3 years ago. I like to transcribe the tunes I learn into Easy ABC to create a searchable archive. If my source is a printed sheet someone gives me, or from a book, I take a photo of it with my phone and use that until I have a chance to transcribe it into ABC.

Periodically I’ll create a “practice PDF” of several tunes that I either want to learn or haven’t quite got under my fingers.

Like you, though, I’d rather not spend a lot of time in front of the computer when playing music — but that works out fine since I spend probably no more than 5% of my practice time with written music anyway.

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

Yes I’d also considered going fully digital with some other device than my computer.

Actually I already have an ereader and that isn’t backlit it’s a matt viewing screen so more like a normal book. I might give it a shot reading from that.

I see you don’t have the option to save as with the sheet music. Do I have to screen capture and crop it myself? That seems a rather glaring omission if so.

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

Hmm nope that’s way too small 🙂. I’ll stick to the old-school method for now.

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

I am doing the same as joe fidkid and am just about up-to-date with the transcriptions. But I have a lot of paperwork with songs so thanks to Ailin for a reminder of what he suggested.

Years ago I used a technical library what worked the way he described. Books were just given a number, put in order on the shelves and card indexes maintained for author, title and subject maintained. It worked fine,and far better now with computers I guess. No good for browsing a subject though. Off to the shops to buy some of those little sticky labes with numbers. Or is that too fussy ?

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

I know a man who keeps a small pocket book that has the tunes with the ABC’s of the first 3 bars. The tunes are organized first by the letter they start with in the title, and second by the note the start with.

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

I keep mine in alphabetical order. I have one binder of instrumental tunes, and a larger one of songs. Of course, that means that I not only have to remember the title, but I also have to remember the alphabet!

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

Ah, but what happens if there are two tunes/songs on the page?

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

Organized? What is this "organized" of which you speak?

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

Another vote for digital, I keep a file of all my ABC files on a webserver that I can access from any computer or my phone using whatever ABC software I have available. Trad musician on the phone (Android), EasyABC on the PC (Linux) and ABCNavigator on another PC I use with Windows on it.

The text file takes up practically no space compared to today’s memory storage.

Also with using digital tools to help learning new tunes I find the Amazing Slow Downer great for learning tunes from recordings which I prefer to do if a recording is available. They stick better in my head that way but perhaps I’m getting too far off topic.

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

"I see you don’t have the option to save as with the sheet music. Do I have to screen capture and crop it myself? That seems a rather glaring omission if so."

You can paste the abc here and save it as a pdf. This also makes it easy to tweak a couple of notes here or there if you’re into that kind of thing. http://www.mandolintab.net/abcconverter.php

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

The alphabet is your friend. And I always prepare a table of contents for any booklet with more than a few sheets in it.

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

Mine are in a plastic sleeve binder, arranged by type (reel, jig, etc) and put in sets that we play. Lots of copying and pasting, but then I can play an entire set all at once without flipping. I put little tags on each section and have a master list at the front. That way I learn my tunes in sets as that is the way we play them.

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

I’m in the camp with Joe Fidkid. When I’m learning a tune (dots mode) or trying to remember a tune I thought I knew (old man mode), I use an abc file and EasyABC on my 27" iMac. The zoom feature in EasyABC makes the score visible several feet away and the ability to use the aural output can put me back on track when I lose my mind trying to play something - which happens all too often these days in my "advanced youth". EasyABC does a very good job of outputting a pdf file* which can be printed for use outside of the computer environment. It’s printed out, punched and put in a three-ring binder. It’s around my den somewhere having not been opened in several months. I must be getting better at ITM or I’ve just plain forgotten a bunch…

The abc file is organized by sections and I forced page numbers and margins for back-to-back printing. That’s a manual effort and only worth it if you’re dedicated - or stupid. Where I’m concerned, the jury is still out on that one. Included for your wild envy or open derision are the links to the abc and Word portions of my tunebook. It might just be an excellent example of where not to spend your time when engaging in organizing your musical efforts. I have friends that swear by their iPads and pdf sheets. I swear by paper sheets that don’t expend $400+ when they fall of off the music stand. In the end, it’s really to each their own and whatever they’re comfortable with.

http://www.thisoldtractor.com/guzzi007/Celtic/Payson_Session/The_Payson_Sessions.abc
http://www.thisoldtractor.com/guzzi007/Celtic/Payson_Session/The_Payson_Sessions_Index.doc

* EasyABC on a Mac has everything "built-in" to print pdf files. Under Windows, that’s a bit different and I’ve never gotten that feature to work under Windows 7 running within VMWare on my Macintrash. I’m sure that’s not the case with real Window machines but I thought it worth mentioning.

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

The Session has a "your member tune-book", but also a TUNEBOOK, which I just discovered. Normally you add tunes to your tune-book, but you can also bookmark in your browser a special page that shows your TUNEBOOK, i.e. a list of your tune-book tunes where clicking on the tune title slides open their ABCs and sheets.

While logged in, just go to: https://thesession.org/tunebook

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

When I am first learning, comparing versions or correcting a misunderstanding, I find sheet music pretty useful. But, to really "GET" a tune I need to memorize it. After that, I still frequently have the problem of recalling how to start the tune, not to mention attaching which name to which tune!

So, in the end, organizing the sheet music isn’t my problem. I just need a reminder of the first couple of bars. The practice machine at Irishtunesinfo.com helps me with that.

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

i have mine in plastic sleeves in a binder in roughly alphabetical order, ie all the as, all the Bs rather than strict alphabetical. Quick to find.. I also have the first line or two of each tune in an indexed address book - i struggle to remember the names of tunes, but once i play the first few bars it all comes back!! Small, easy to carry around and quick to access

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

I do seem to have a lot. I don’t like binders or sleeves so I just throw it in in a file box in more or less alphabetical order (at least the R’s are the same slot). There are duplicates in the case of different name and if I can’t remember the name I’m SOL. Sometimes it’s exciting to see what I find when I’m searching for something else. Might be a bit of A.D.D going on here but I don’t have tha…hey look, a squirrel…wanna go ride bikes?

Really think of the adventures I’d miss by getting organized.

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

I don’t look at the sheet but I have files and piles for when I feel like teaching. The multiple versions on this site drive me bonkers.

I can always remember where I first heard a tune and then I visualize the person playing it. This doesn’t happen w CDs only ppl. Remembering where and who u first learned it is important as your 1st impressions. The best tunes have no paper trail.

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Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

EasyABC can generate an incipits file (configurable) and once you’ve exported it all as pdf, you have a collection of titles plus two bars you can refer to. That doesn’t work for me personally so much since it’s the B part I tend to get tangled up in.

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

I have a simple database, in Microsoft Works. It took some time to set up, but it was worth the effort. It contains every tune from every tune book I own, including those I have put together for my own use. It’s easy to consult as well. All I need to do is keep it up to date which is now quite easy, as I have deliberately ceased buying music books apart from very special ones, put together, for instance, for a particular session which I regularly attend.
I tried the incipits way, but decided it wasn’t for me, so my abc collection is not in the system, but as I have it set up in one main "Tunes" directory, with specialist sub-directories as necessary, consulting this collection is as easy as using my database.

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

Cac beannaithe! Ebor_fiddler, you transcribed into ABCs every tune in every tunebook you own? How long did THAT take? I hope you did it while at work, rather than have it eat into your playing time at home. 🙂

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

Work? What’s that? No, what I did was only to list the title, source and key. I now can find where my tunes are. I agree; putting everything in to abc and then listing the result would be impossible. My abc record is a separate thing. 🙂

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

I’ve been part of a duo - more lately a trio - for many years: we write out tunes in a notation programme (MusicTime) and we used to cart round files of printed A4 sheets. This became v. inconvenient so we searched for a digital solution. Zapristi! It appeared in the form of an app called MobileSheets, which works on an Android tablet. We now save our notated tunes as .pdf files and load them into the app, which then allows us to list them alphabetically and organise them into sets, genres, categories … whatever. I have about 2,500 items on my tablet now - nearly all of which are also available as .pdf files on our website (www.rudemex.co.uk).

The files are all on a 10" tablet in landscape format and are easily readable (with a page turning footpedal for long tunes needing more than one screen). As well as being a handy tune store, a discreet tablet is a less obtrusive barrier between players and listeners than a music stand. I’m not on a retainer for the guy who runs Mobile Sheets, but I can recommend it thoroughly!

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Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

I’d certainly second the use of Mobilesheets as an app for Android tablets. As Bazza says, it lets you organise your tunes in many useful ways and you can upload them from computer to tablet using the supplied software. it has a free trial version but the full version is very cheap. Here is a link to the site where you can download it:

www.zubersoft.com/mobilesheets/about.html

Re: How do you organise your sheet music?

I just downloaded the full version, as the free one is more of a demonstration app than anything, since it will only take eight tunes. But at £8 for the real thing, the money is well spent! It certainly seems to be as useful as the contributors above claim. The only snag is that it is limited to the pdf genre, but as I didn’t have any way before of indexing my pdf collection, this will do me.