Making Music More Accessible - Literally! A Music Storage Solution Story

August 27, 2013, 3:02 PM · A few weeks ago, I took action on my growing sense that my entire system for storing music had to go.

I carefully removed everything inside and on top of the big cabinet that was holding my music hostage and had become too heavy and over-packed to open and use on any kind of regular basis. I stacked the music in piles all over my studio, then removed the contents of two junk drawers. Why does the process of organizing something feel like the very opposite? One has to blow it all apart in order to put it back together, and let's just say that it looked like a tornado blew through my studio.

And that was before I laid the unassembled pieces of the big bookshelf all around the remaining floor space in the studio, so that I could figure out what they were and begin the process of building this thing!

Building shelf

I chose a cube bookcase, with 15-inch cubes, so that even my biggest music would fit. (Hello, Ravel Sonata, why exactly are you so big?)

Completed shelf

I have a lot of music, but even so, I figured that with twelve spacious cubes, I could fit all of it in six cubes or less, leaving six empty ones, in which I could place, say: a stylish vase, a decorative gourd, an empty pot, a statuette of a crane, or a framed picture of my kids…It would look something like this.

HAH! My music took up nine cubes! And the remaining three filled fast, with the gold prize box for my students, music tote bags, and a basket full of things like stand lights, folding music stands, etc.

But no matter. I love it! And now I have a new answer for when a young student asks, "What comes after the Suzuki books?"

Finished music shelves

This! (The Suzuki books are actually on my desk, not in here!)

I did take the advice many of you offered and found magazine files for things like "gig music" or "duets" or "notes from pedagogy classes."

I have to say, this is the best investment of time and money that I've made for myself in a long time. I feel like I have a completely new studio, like I actually moved into a new physical space! With all the music alphabetized and so easy to pull out (or put back in), the possibilities seem greatly expanded. What do I feel like practicing today? I can pull it right out. And the same goes for my students: if we want a different solo piece, or a duet to play with a friend, we can pull out three or four pieces and take a look.


August 27, 2013 at 10:06 PM · Hey Laurie! Really digging the little violinist sculpture in the second row, first box. Where did you get it? Also, what is that piano thing on the left? Is that a bag of some sort?

August 28, 2013 at 12:01 AM · The frog is ancient; I can't remember ever not having him! And unfortunately, I can't remember where I picked him up! I have always had a soft spot for frogs. :) The thing on the left is actually this tote bag, which I got for my daughter's guitar music.

August 28, 2013 at 08:01 AM · Wow, Laurie, nice! Especially striking when compared to your old cabinet.

August 28, 2013 at 12:26 PM · It looks great!

The magazine files are most spiffy. Where did you get them?

Also, is that a piano scarf lurking in the bottom left corner?

August 28, 2013 at 01:11 PM · Laurie - there is never a downside to getting your stuff more organized. What you have done looks good and practical. I see an "antique" Taktell metronome. Ah, the memories it brings back. I bet you still use it.

August 28, 2013 at 03:30 PM · Ooh, pretty. Love the "before" and "after" effect.

August 28, 2013 at 09:57 PM · Thanks for the reply Laurie! I personally have a Mozart bear I got in Austria and a Chopin statuette I got in Poland at his birthplace (which, by the way, was fantastic) on top of my piano. I can't resist the urge to get a Tchaikovsky statuette soon!

August 28, 2013 at 11:27 PM · Anne, the colorful magazine files were on sale at the Container Store, which is nonetheless a dangerous place to take your wallet. (I got these files, too, which are great for music with plastic or spiral binding.)

Tom, the old-fashioned metronome is actually a Wittner, and I totally loved it until it stopped working. I'm told that clockmakers can fix metronomes, and part of my mission in fixing my studio is to fix the metronome. I love it, my students are fascinated by it. If the clockmaker fails, I suppose I will have to lobby Santa for a new one!

Vincent, I've always wanted a Beethoven bust for my piano so I could be like Schroeder, but I'd settle for a Chopin bust straight from Poland! ;)

August 30, 2013 at 04:09 PM · Hmmmm...i might have to get me one of those :)

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