I have just moved house and I'm sorting out my library.

How do you guys store your sheet music?

Most classic banjo stuff seems to be the old 9.5" x 12.5" manuscript standard. Are there binders available?

Any thoughts or suggestions?

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I don't use binders, but the IKEA storage boxes are:

...cheap, they stack and have labels and you can file your documents in any way that you want to...i.e alphabetically,  by composer, publisher, etc etc.....  and  at 10" x 14" they will fit all sizes of old banjo music, including newer BMGs and ancient BMGs.


Ikea storage boxes

Originally, I used screw-together scrapbook binders. I still have them but once I get it all digital, I'm having a bonfire! ;^)

I am afraid to admit that I have been using the "banker" file boxes.  They are ugly and cheap.  I get the heaver versions.

I do like the option that Ian posted, I may need to look into upgrading.

All the sheets are organized by composer (or arranger of note) in acid free/archival oversized file folders I found on Amazon.  The file folders you get at the office supply stores are not acid free unless they specify. 

I've added comments about all my sheet music - I play a lot of different things and run bands and orchestras etc, but have covered the banjo stuff first.  So ignore the rest if it is of no interest - but I thought some people might find it interesting so have included comments about this.

I like to avoid using the original copies as much as I can these days as this music is old and most of it is not being printed any longer. I'd like to know that the original copies I have might be as good in condition when I have no need for them as they were when I found them. I use forscore on my iPad (I have a big screen one) and scan in a lot of things. I also make photocopies or print outs (if digital) of everything, reduced (or enlarged) to A4 and use these and/or the iPad for everyday playing. 

The photocopies of solos I keep in clear file books of 40 or 60 pockets....


Any more pages and I find them too hard to handle. I arrange these clear file books by composer for the big names (Morley Books 1, 2 & 3, Grimshaw Book 1 & 2 , Weidt Books etc) and then a few other folders for the assorted other pieces arranged by style such as ragtime classic banjo, or classic banjo marches etc.   Within each clear file book I arrange the solos alphabetically for each folder (by title - and sometime across multiple books). I use the same system for all my solo piano, tenor banjo, plectrum banjo, mandolin, trumpet/cornet, mellophone, euphonium, saxophones, clarinet, xylophone, drums (etc) and it works really well for me. Of course I have to make sure all the folders are well labelled and have their own place on the shelf so I can find them when I need them.

If there are accompaniment parts - 2nd banjo, piano etc - I tape the pages of each photocopied part together with 3 little hinges (using scotch tape so it does disintegrate or go yellow and sticky) and insert these parts into the pocket behind the first page of the solos the pages (which are spread out to be able to play in the clear file without removing).  This way the other parts are right there to pull out and use if I ever need them, but I don't have to scroll through them, just the solo parts.  Taping these parts is also useful for piano accompaniments as it means the pages are in the correct order and don't get muddled up with other solos.

The originals of banjo music I store in A3 clear file books ...


... with a sheet of heavy paper in each pocket and a different piece on each side (solo and all parts). I store these lying flat on bookshelves.  I try to keep them arranged alphabetically by title. I find as I'm never using these for actually playing, and only as a reference, it's faster to find things.  However, this can be a nuisance as the clear file books available here have fixed pages.  So it often means refiling an entire book when I get anything new.  One day - when I am wealthy enough - I will buy some A3 ring binders and archival quality plastic pockets to do the same thing.  The originals of most my other music fits easily into plastic tubs as most of it is a smaller size than the banjo music.  And the plastic means that if they ever get dusty or dirty in any way I can just take the music out and wash the tub - making sure it's dry before returning its contents.

I copy or use digital versions of all the method books I use that are no longer in print.  I have a number I would never use, so store these without copying them. Again, these things are going to deteriorate with use and if I ever need to write notes on things I feel much happier knowing my additions aren't defacing a rare old book for future users.  I keep the originals in plastic tubs.

Orchestra and band arrangements all get a C4 envelope (with the opening on the shorter side) for each arrangement - for the small sized things and a larger envelope for the bigger things.  These go in suspension folders in filing cabinets or cartons - depending on the category and size.  I have Salon/Light and Photoplay Orchestra, and three Dance Band catagories (split into eras 1916 - 1930, 1931-1945, 1946 to modern) - as this reflects both instrumentation and stylistic differences, Concert/Military Band, Brass Band, Dixieland Band, Bavarian/Tyrolian Band as these are the main styles I tend to play (so far).  I label each envelope and stick a coloured dot to the outside depending on what category it would be filed under.  (green for orchestra, orange for 20s dance band etc.)   I find my choral collection and mandolin orchestra music is best stored in clear file books like I do with the banjo music.  I don't have that much of this music and unlike the other groups there are only a relatively small number of parts. 

Organ music is a challenge for physical photocopies as quite a lot of it was printed in landscape orientation and I can't find easily obtainable ring binders or clear files in landscape orientation in New Zealand (and shipping form overseas makes importing them too costly).  I never mastered playing  pedals so only play manuals and usually on reed organs.  So I still mostly use the originals but scan things in more now that I have the iPad.

I thought we were just talking about original copies.

Heck, I scan everything.  If it is mine, I share it here and/or on the Internet Archive so that it will be preserved in infinite copies over the entire world. If it belongs to the ABF, I scan and then send to the Librarian Becky for filling requests by members. 

Scanning and posting to here and the Archive is the responsible thing to do.  And have a plan.  None of us get out of this alive so figure out where your stuff will go when you die.  Trust me, your family will not be able to sale it for much of anything (well, the banjo music).  Find someone who will take it and enjoy it and make sure your family knows who that is.  Otherwise, expect it to go right to the dump.

For self printed copies I use a standard file cabinet. I write all over them and toss and print a new one when torn.

I only use  self printed copies for playing from.

I have no system . I have only a few originals of individual pieces These I keep in a manila folder. I do have some original books. These are on a book shelf. I do use these to read from.  When learning a single banjo solo, not from a book,  I rarely use the original. I use a photo copy. Most of these are in different sorts of binders. These are filed alphabetically. I also have a good number of banjo solos on a CD. I print from these via computer and I use it until it's dog eared. Then I discard it and print another when I need it. I don't like to be sitting with a banjo and looking at a monitor. So I always read from paper. But that is for learning. For actual playing I have memorized the banjo solo and I'm not looking at a score.

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