3 Tips for Organizing Sheet Music

Happy New Year! And what better way to start off 2018 than some tips for organizing your practice space. This is going to kick off a series of posts for the month of January I'm calling the Ship Shape Pianist in which I share some of the ways I try to stay organized & on schedule. (Not that I'm all that great at it all the time, but I hope that you piano parents, students & teachers out there will find something that helps you too!) So, if your piano has ever looked like the one in our photo here, I'm sharing 3 tips for keeping your music collection under control. 

You may have noticed that putting your piano books back in the bench after every practice can feel pointless when you know you're just going to pull them out again the next day, so stacks of music happen. They happen to all of us. And, if you think about it, practicing so often that you don't want to put your books away is a good problem to have!

But if you're tired of stacks of books & loose sheets all over the piano, or not being able to find a certain piece of music music for practice or lessons, today I'm going to give you three organizational ideas to help tidy your practice space, and keep it that way, to start off the new year on a good note. 

1. Older Stuff in the Bench. Or, if you're piano bench doesn't have enough storage, designate a shelf of a bookcase to music books. Keep only the active repertoire out on the piano. Reviewing old stuff is terrific, please do it! If you're really getting into an older collection for a while, definitely put it out so you can play it easily. But when you're done with something, or find you're not playing it as much, put it away until the next time you want to use it. I tend to cycle my old & new music so that I have about 4-7 books out at a time. The rest is put away on my music shelf. 

2. Get a binder. Gather all of those loose sheets into one place so they are easy to find and in book form. (Added bonus: they will also stay on the music stand without slipping.) I recommend 1" - 1.5" binders as anything larger can get a bit unwieldy. If you don't have a 3-hole punch, you may want to invest in one, or pick up a package of page protectors so you can continue to add new pieces. When a binder gets full, put it away in the bench or on a music shelf and start a new one. If you like, you can get fancy and label it with the year, or make a table of contents to stick at the front before you 'reitre' it so you can easily find your old favorites again.

3. Vertical Book Storage. Magazine holders work really well for storing piano books vertically, bookends do the trick too. A collected row of books is much easier to navigate than a pile. If you have an upright, you can just stick them on top. If you have a grand piano, the lid just behind the music stand will work, the small platforms on either side of the music stand, or even the floor next to one of the legs can also be a good place to line up the books you'll need to access on a daily basis. 

Try some of these out, let us know how they work, or if you need any help getting a tidy practice space set up. And hopefully this year you can spend more time playing the music you love and less time trying to find the missing pages!