Music therapists, musicians, music educators, and music students tend to have an abundance of repertoire. It can definitely be difficult to keep track of everything. How to organize this music has been a hot topic in many circles I am a part of.
I have personally used both the electronic and paper routes of repertoire organization. There are pros and cons to each format. Let’s take a look at them below.
- Easy search for a specific piece
- Simple access through app of your choice
- Light and easy to transport from place to place
- Electronics can be distracting in sessions/classes
- Risking damage to electronic device
- Can get pricey
- Hard copy
- Easy on the eyes
- Simple organization in a binder or book
- Can get bulky/heavy
- Depending on the amount of rep, can be difficult/distracting to use in sessions/classes
- Can be difficult to locate a specific piece
- Risking damage to sheet music
I know people who are completely electronic, solely use paper, or use a mix of both. Using a balance of paper and electronic works for me.
I currently use an iPad Pro in all of my music therapy sessions and music lessons. I prefer using this format when interacting with students and clients for many reasons. The primary reasons being that it allows me to be more present, as I do not have to go digging for music, and I have a large variety of music readily available at my fingertips.
I currently use these apps to store my music:
I use this app for my sheet music. It gives you many options for categorization such as composer, genre, tags, and labels (all of which you input). I tend to categorize by student/client. In other words, I create a setlist for each person that contains their warmups and sheet music.
My favorite aspect of forScore is the editing function. You can use your apple pencil or finger to write in notes directly onto the music. It is very handy! The only downside to this app is that you do have to pay a fee when you download it from the app store.
This is one that I started using more recently. Since it is also a website, it allows you to access your music on your iPad, phone, or laptop.
My favorite thing about this app is that you can scan paper sheet music right from your phone or iPad camera and save it to Dropbox. I have such bad luck with physical photocopiers, and this saves me so much time!
From dropbox, you can export your music right onto forScore. I use dropbox more as a storage space, while forScore contains the music I need direct access to. There is a free version and a paid version of Dropbox.
If you are a Music Therapist, I HIGHLY recommend this app. The chords, tabs, and lyrics to almost any song are readily available to you! This is an app that you have to pay for, but I find it to be worth it.
I use GuitarTabs for both guitar and piano during sing-alongs and music therapy sessions. This app is particularly beneficial if you are unsure about the preferences of your participant(s). I love that I can look up chords on the spot if needed!
Now, I do not rely solely on electronics. When I was a student, I always brought my session plans to my practicum sites that included the plan as well as the lyrics/chords to the songs. I really never used them in the sessions, as I memorized almost everything, but it was comforting to know it was there just in case. I was sure to keep the amount of paper I was bringing minimal, so I only brought the 3-4 page session for that day each time.
I have my own music collection and so does Music Therapy Connections (where I work). As a student, I created a huge binder of songs that I still use! I do prefer to have a paper sheet of music to look at, so having this binder at home is nice. I categorized this binder in alphabetical order – keeps it simple.
If you decide to go the binder route, be sure to include sheet protectors to protect from any damage!
There is no right or wrong way to store or use your music. You just have to find what works for you! What way(s) do you find beneficial?