- May 9, 2016 at 6:50 pm #515217
My question is for those who experienced choral directors.
How do you organize your repertoire? Do you use a database? An online program? Paper Files? Lists? Microsoft Excel? What? I’m looking for an efficient organizer to help me organize all of my choral music. Effective filing system or program suggestions are needed!
A followup question: How do you keep track of what pieces you’ve recently performed?May 10, 2016 at 7:59 am #515273
Great question. My recommendations, for what they’re worth:
– Use a spreadsheet, like Excel or Google Sheets. A database works just fine, but fewer computers will have the programs, the files will reside only on one computer, they’re more complex to use, and you don’t generally need the extra features.
I’d recommend Google Sheets for convenience. It’s free, you can let multiple users have access to the file, and you can access it from any computer, tablet, or smartphone. (Inspiration strikes at odd times… smartphone access is nice.) And Google keeps backups automatically, so if you mess something up and don’t realize it for a while, you can always go back.
– If you’ve got a large library, you’ll want to just number everything. That way you don’t have to shuffle drawers. You just add new pieces at the end when they come in, and you don’t have to bother sorting them in to the library alphabetically. Most libraries I’ve seen that are over 500 pieces of music are numbered. (If you’ve got a small library, it will eventually get bigger, so you might want to start that way, depending on the situation.)
– For keeping track of what you’ve performed… Every music filing system has a column for “last performance date” or something like that. I’ve never really used it myself… I just forget or don’t take the time. What I do is to keep a file of concert programs (or church bulletins). It’s easier–you just stick a copy of the current program in the front of the drawer, and you’re done.
I’ve figured most of this stuff out by lots of trial and error. If you’ve got any more questions or want to chat, I’d be happy to help.May 10, 2016 at 8:00 am #515270
Kristina Butler HoustonParticipant
There are some great old discussions on this topic here – you should definitely go look them up for good ideas!
I prefer Microsoft Access (database software). I then usually print paper versions sorted by various criteria for faster reference (no computer in the music library unless I bring my laptop).
I have a column in the database that lists all of the times we’ve performed the piece (month and year only).May 10, 2016 at 8:01 am #515266
I created a Google sheet for our catalog. It’s been super helpful, especially because I can search the catalog from my laptop, phone, or iPad when I get a repertoire idea and I’m away from campus. I can also share the sheet with student workers, who help me keep it up to date. I scan it every now and then and find obvious errors in title, composer, etc., and I can make notes or highlight areas I want them to double check. As for tracking performances, I simply added a column for “last performance.” If you’re interested, here are the categories I have listed for each entry: Composer, Arranger, Title, Publisher, Voicing, # of copies, and last performance.
I also have a catalog for my own personal library of single copy scores, which is much more detailed. For that catalog, in addition to the basic information above, I have added: accompaniment, text source, difficulty level, period/style, editor (for historical works), language, and compilation/book (so I know if it’s a single copy in the file or within a book on my shelf). Most helpful of all is the final category: themes and program ideas. I enter three or four keywords for how each piece might be used. This makes the catalog easily searchable when I am bringing a program or set together around a specific theme or occasion.
For storage, my current school uses these boxes: http://www.tempomusicoffice.com/The_Best_Box/. I’ve also had success at previous schools using the boxes JWPepper sells. The Best Box is far sturdier than JWPepper’s, but they are more expensive. We have them stored on metal shelving systems we purchased from Home Depot.May 10, 2016 at 8:01 am #515261
Musica International, the world database of choral repertoire (http://www.musicanet.org ), proposes “private fields” to manage the holdings of libraries, just by using the work done by all others to describe the scores. And if a score is not yet input in the database, one does the input online, for one’s own benefit and for the benefit of the whole world. It is a ccoperative project to describe the whole choral repertoire.
A private field can either be completely private, ie only the owner of the private field can see it, or displayed publicly (for instance the display of Westminster Choir College, of the libraru of the Center in Namur, of the Deutsches Centrum für Chormusik…
Do some searches to see the amount of information that is handy…
All the Best,
JeanMay 12, 2016 at 4:27 pm #515528
Thank you so much for your insight and advice! I appreciate it greatly! I have a lot of repertoire that I need to organize and was looking for organization tips! Thank you!
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