Best ways of storing sheet music
I was wondering if anyone had a really good and practical way of storing print sheet music. If there is any specific types of folders or cabinets that they use to store their sheet music. I would like to know ways of storing music for later use and storage for frequent use sheet music. I want the system to hold a large amount of sheets.
13 Answers 13
I’m going to focus on storage for the average musician’s collection of music, not the music of a collector who keeps valuable manuscripts.
When I am storing music, the most important considerations are that 1) I don’t damage the music, and 2) that I can find the particular music I need with ease, and 3) That I’m not wasting space.
Books of music can often be stored on an everyday bookshelf, if you have tall shelves. I’ve found most music is just about as deep as my shelves. This is a good cheap option if you are on a budget. Use bookends to keep the music from sagging sideways and bending if the shelf isn’t full.
File cabinets are better for loose sheet music, but you may need to put the music in the cabinet the long way if it doesn’t fit across the cabinet’s shorter dimension. Put the music in correctly labeled file folders. If the cabinet isn’t very full, the music will tend to bend if the file folders spread out. You can buy blocks to keep the folders from sliding to far: they work a lot like bookends.
The problem with bookshelves and file cabinets is that most music doesn’t have the name written down the spine – it’s too narrow. To fix this, you generally need to make custom labels. File folder labels, or a piece of cardboard about an inch deeper than the music will solve the problem. Stick the cardboard in the shelf between the music at the start of a new composer, and write the composer’s name on the end.
Then you get music of extra large dimensions, that sticks way past the edge of your bookshelf, or requires such extra long folders that it doesn’t fit in the same cabinet at your other music. You can buy dedicated music cabinets that will fit even large music manuscripts, but if money or space is important, it may be easiest to stack this in a box on top of a filing cabinet, or top of a bookshelf, where it won’t be easily damaged.
If you’ve got a lot of music, being able to find a particular piece is an important part of storage. For me, I separate music out by instrument, and then arrange it alphabetically, either by composer or title, whichever is more memorable. (Vivaldi’s Gloria is under V for Vivaldi, but the pop song Four Leaf Clover is under F for Four. It means that I can find all my music by looking in only two or three possible locations. Not having any organization means searching through a foot high stack of sheet music, or worse if you’ve got more.
If you are worried about making the music last as long as possible (you’ve got an original, handwritten Mozart composition, for example), you’ll want to store it in a dry, climate controlled space, out of direct sunlight or darker, and minimize the contact of your skin with it as much as possible.