CCB Sheet Music: Behind the Scenes
Coda Connections Feature - Fall 2015

‚ÄčAs the Columbia Concert Band prepares to move its music library, I thought I might explain a little bit about how we obtain and store the music that we
perform for you.

As I look ahead to each upcoming performance, I consider not only the type of music that we need, but also how much. Our annual Children's Concert usually has a theme. Some examples have been dance music, outer space, magic, and circus music. Our formal winter concert is shared with the Columbia Jazz Band and Flute Cocktail, so I only get 40 minutes on stage. In the spring we get to "stretch our muscles" a bit, and program a longer and more difficult concert. Outdoor concerts require lighter music---perhaps some Broadway or movie medleys, some patriotic tunes, some transcriptions of current popular music, and some marches---but lots of it! These performances are usually two hours long, with one intermission. The music can't be too challenging, or our faces will be exhausted before the concert is over!

Once I get the right combination and amount of repertoire, I order the music from a distributor - usually our local Music and Arts Center, who does a great job getting it in the mail very quickly. The price of each piece will usually be somewhere between $50 and $200. Sometimes I have to order from overseas, and I remember one occasion on which I didn't even know how much I was paying until the music arrived from The Netherlands! (And I'll say this - it didn't fall into that normal price range...)

The music is sent directly to our wonderful volunteer librarian, who checks it in by stamping each page, assigning the piece a number, and then making a new entry into our database. Coincidentally, she just sent me an updated file, and I see that we now own 1425 pieces of music! I suspect ours is one of the largest music libraries in the state.

Except what is currently in use, all of our music is kept in a central location. That location used to be the home of one of our band members, but a few years ago we finally moved everything to a storage facility. We have 66 boxes of music on shelves, and when I need to retrieve something, I look up its box number on the database and pull it from the library. Music is distributed first to section leaders, who in turn make sure that each section member has all of the music that he/she needs for the performance. When we are done with a selection, the process goes backward: members pass their parts in to their section leaders, who then give them to the librarian to return to the storage facility.

Our music library is constantly growing and, as I mentioned, we are preparing to move it from a 10' x 10' room to a 15' x 10' foot room. Hopefully this will be sufficient for at least a few more years!

Michael Blackman
Concert Band Director