5 Steps to Organize Your Sheet Music

Article Image
Photo Source: Photo by Imagens Portal SESCSP on Flickr

If music is integral to your career, there’s no doubt you accumulate stacks of sheet music—hard copies and digital files alike. And if you cherish everything from the Golden Age to the obscure like I do, it starts to pile up! Here’s how to organize and store your sheet music library, in five simple steps.

1. Alphabetize your collection. This takes time, so divide up the process into chunks. I usually spend an hour a day, and the payoff is always worth it. Depending on your home setup and personal aesthetic, dedicate a file cabinet for hard copies or a bookcase for binders. For both hard copies and digital, you might prefer to alphabetize by writer, genre, period—whatever will make it easy for you to locate the piece.

2. Build a song index. Create a document of your song titles in a Word, Excel, or Google Sheets file. To make it easier to locate specific entries, add columns for composer/lyricist, title of show, and year of publication. Use the application’s search features to find and compare relevant information at a glance.

READ: Exactly What You Should Prepare for a Musical Theater Audition

3. Use an external hard drive. Is your desktop a mess with files you don’t access regularly? Too many cabarets and callbacks cluttering your hard drive? Offload them to a cloud-based service or external drive. For most performers, 500 gigabytes to 1 terabyte will be more than sufficient space. I love my Western Digital hard drive because it’s lightweight and fits easily in my bag, whether I’m working on the road or at a neighborhood café.

4. Save callback material. If you audition for musical theater, you’ve most likely gone out for the same role more than once. For Broadway, national tours, and regional theater, you could be assigned a packet of 20-60 pages—and the time required for printing, annotating, and coaching the material adds up. So create a callback binder for all your hard work, as it’s likely you’ll revisit the role in the future. Production teams may vary with their musical cuts and sides, but there will be overlap. When they come back around, you’ll be prepped and ready!

5. Donate or recycle any repeats. When you start to organize, you might find duplicates or triplicates of the same song. Since my collection goes back to when I was very young, it feels sacrilegious to dump any piece of sheet music in the garbage. Instead, recycle extra copies or pay them forward to a friend. Post a list of the titles you’re purging to Twitter or Facebook and see if you can find them a new home—now that yours is up-to-date and organized.


Check out Backstage’s musicals audition listings!

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Author Headshot
Mara Jill Herman
Mara Jill Herman is an actor, writer, and teaching artist. In 2012, she co-authored “So You Wanna Be A Superstar? The Ultimate Audition Guide” (Running Press Kids). She is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and frequently performs with America’s Sweethearts, the all-female vintage trio.
See full bio and articles here!

More From Backstage Experts


More From Musical Theater

Now Trending