File Sheet Music:  Alphabetically?  By number?  By Genre?

The answer is: “depends” upon how you access your music!

If you constantly look for sheet music by a certain composer, you may want to sort by composer first – and then by title.  Looking for the title typically?  Filing by title alphabetically is the most common.

If you want to go look for all the Christmas music at once; or all Marching Band Charts; or all Jazz music; or music books by certain grade level – then you might want to separate your collection into those different sections.  In this case color coding your labels can help to differentiate one section from another.


When you have a large quantity of titles – you may want to number your selections. The advantage to numbering your selections is that you can file new music at the end of the last row of filing.  This eliminates the need to file music in the middle of the system (inter-filing).  (When you file in the middle of the system, you will need to periodically shift music from row to row to make space for new music.) Also the advantage to the numerical system is that all of your newer music is at the end of the filing.  And these are the pieces that you will probably access more often.

The disadvantage to numbering your music is that you might need to go to a computer to see what number is assigned to a certain piece of music – then go to the system to access.  With alphabetical filing you can just go to the title and pull it.

Smart numbers:  Many schools will number their Concert Band collection with CB123, Jazz Band with JZ123, Full Orchestra FO123 etc.

Can you have both alphabetical AND numerical?  YES!  Many schools will number their large collections (like Concert Band) numerically.  But the Pep Band collection is filed in a separate area alphabetically (since there just a few titles in that collection).

THE BEST TIME to assign numbers to your library is during a new filing system set up.  With the first set of numbering, you will want to assign the first numbers in the “A” section and run your numbering in the same sequence as your alphabetical. Then of course you will assign new numbers as your acquire new music regardless of the alphabet.

Music Filing Solutions will print your labels for free when you are converting to this space saving filing method.  Also your music labels can be color-coded (still free) – to help you find your music faster.  So you can spend more time teaching…  and less time looking for that darned piece of music!