Big Band Book System ~ Take 4.5

Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them. ~ Paul Hawken

Books2Today I was spending another two hours putting the solo tenor book together for the new candidates for that position and discovered that I was unable to put in a full inch-thick stack of new charts that had not been filed. With 230 charts for any given year from our library (of over 5,000 charts), this has been an ongoing challenge. I have spent hours cleaning up the books for people in the sax section who just don’t take the time to keep their books up to date. Imagine a 4 hour session of pulling old charts out, adding new charts, and cleaning up the last concert-order charts.

That’s just crazy. I can’t use my favorite music stand because our book is too big, too heavy. So I am trying a new system. I updated the music master list and labeled each song as A or B.


The A book is our concert book for the year, has about 100 charts, and has maybe 95% of what we will play in any concert. The B book is that year’s library book. I am using the existing huge binder as the library book and the smaller binder as the concert binder.

imageAlso, all my charts have been placed in the binder so that they can be read without removing the music from the books. This means I DON’T have to pull charts from the book, shuffle through that stack and book if our director calls an audible during the concert, and then put the music back in the book after the concert. I have now reduced hours of filing time from my practice regiment.

Turning to the chart is my biggest challenge but after two or three concerts, I can do it almost as fast as others turn to the next chart from a stack of charts.

This solution makes it easier for me to hand my book to a sub. I can’t count how many times I’ve been handed our binder for a sub and there are three stacks to sort through if you are playing the chair:

  • The numbered stack
  • The new stack
  • The last concert stack

This *always* creates a stressful situation for the sub, the section, and the director.

Trumpets2I have never been in a band with as much music to draw from as this band. Most bands have file folders that you pull the music from and the place back in the binder. This takes more time than I’m willing to do for any of my bands. And if the director of these other bands call and audible (a chart not on the play list), it takes the band 3 to 5 minutes to pull their chart. That’s a lot of down time for a band.

It will be interesting to me to see if this system works for us. Now to setup my book with this new method. And then another hour to add the new charts to the master music list. The life of a band manager is not for the faint of heart.

About Gandalfe

Just an itinerant saxophonist trying to find life between the changes. I have retired from the Corps of Engineers and Microsoft. I am an admin on the Woodwind Forum, run the Seattle Solid GOLD Big Band (formerly the Microsoft Jumpin' Jive Orchestra) a GOLD sax quartet, and enjoy time with family and friends.
This entry was posted in Band, Band Management, Big Band, Books, Microsoft Jumpin' Jive Orchestra, MJJO, Tips and Tricks. Bookmark the permalink.

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