I don’t remember much of anything I learned in high school. Most of us don’t. But there was one phrase my high school biology teacher said at the beginning of every week that really stuck with me: “Time spent organizing is time well-spent.”
At the time, I could see some benefits of giving us extra time in class to organize all our binders, but I never really appreciated her catch-phrase until after college.
Guys, organize your music. Do it. Right now. It will save you headache, heartache, and mini-panic attacks. Your brain cannot remember where you put that one sheet of music two years ago. Even if you know for certain you didn’t throw it away, it will take you hours to find it, hours you could spend doing something productive like practicing.
The day that inspired this post was when I had just scheduled an audition for a job accompanying a choir on piano. The director of the choir wanted me to play something from memory (easy-peasy) and then read a hymn for her. My go-to hymn, “Lord, Here Am I,” (not “Here I Am, Lord”–there’s a difference) is not in the hymnal at my house. The only hard-copy I possess is a photo-copy from my old music teacher back in high school.
I lost it.
It was somewhere in my room; that I knew. I had recently pulled it from my active binder (the one I carry with me 24/7) and stuck it either in another binder, on a shelf, or in a folder, or in the closet, or it fell behind it…..Many, many, many hours later, I was in tears and on the phone with my boyfriend who convinced me to pick a different hymn (of course I had back-ups, but “Lord, Here Am I” is my favorite).
After practicing another couple hymns for the audition the next day, I started putting the sheets of paper, at that point coating the floor, back on the shelf. Voila! There it was!
The moral of the story is not that it was there somewhere; it’s that I could’ve found it in mere seconds if I kept my music organized.
I do have binders on my shelf that are somewhat organized by type of music and composer, but the problem is my laziness. I rarely put the music back where it belongs.
Taking the two seconds to put music back where it belongs will save me hours later down the road when it really matters.
So there you have it. Organize your music, fellow musicians. And may you be as lucky as me to have a boyfriend who offers to help with that part. Best of luck to you all!
About the Author
Amy King is a music theory and piano instructor currently residing in the Chicago area.
She holds a Master of Music in Music Theory and Cognition from Northwestern University (June 2020) and a Bachelor of Arts in Piano Performance and English Literature from High Point University (May 2016), where she received the Outstanding Senior Music Major Award, which is awarded to one single graduating music student per year.
Amy has been teaching private piano lessons for 12+ years, taught classroom music theory for 5 years, directed choirs spanning ages 4–25, led and arranged for a university a capella group, and composed and arranged music for various soloists and ensembles.