In this day and age of digital music – which means that printouts are on very thin, 8.5"x11" paper – we may need to rethink how we handle music. In the past, publishers and librarians did much of this work for us, but nowadays, most of us are on our own.
Just last week, I attended a concert at a semi-outdoor venue. There was a soloist on the concert and he played beautifully. (He shall go unnamed for the purposes of this article, but he has agreed to let me publish it.) There was one problem though. His music kept blowing off of the stand. He had the thing memorized, so didn’t miss a beat, but it was very distracting to the audience and probably to him as well. I wish I could say that this only happens outdoors, but it can even happen indoors if the ventilation system blows on your music stand. What are our options, so that this doesn’t happen to us? In order of priority, here’s what I’d recommend:
1. Memorization is always the best option, but not everyone has that skill. If you can manage it though, do it!
2. Use heavyweight paper. Most “normal” copy paper is 20-24lb. and it’s just too light to stay put. The breeze of someone walking by can even dislodge it from your music stand. You’ll want to go to at least 60lb. paper to insure the music won’t leave your music stand. These are my favorites in 8.5”x11” and 11”x17”. Both are heavier weights, won’t rub through when you erase, are almost opaque when held up to the light, and are heavy enough to withstand a breeze to your music stand.
3. Print double-sided and use a professional music tape to bind the pages together. You should NEVER have individual, single-sided 8.5”x11” pages on your music stand. That is always a recipe for disaster!
4. If you want to go one step further, you can purchase a binding machine that goes along with the above tape allowing you to bind up to 20 pages together.
5. Digital music readers. Some would put this higher on the list, but the bugs haven't been worked out yet. There is a chance the reader could run out of battery, freeze, or lose connection with the pedal page turner. I believe that in the next 20-50 years, this will be the way that most of us look at music, but for now it is one of a myriad of options that we have for reading music in a concert setting.
6. Music Stand clips are often used for fully outdoor concerts, but there’s no reason you can’t use them for indoor concerts as well.
7. One could always tape the music to the stand or to a piece of cardboard. If you do choose this route, make sure to use high quality packing tape, to insure that it doesn’t start to peel off during your performance. Keep in mind that this will trash your music and you’ll need to print out a new set the next time you want to work on the piece.
In the end, we are becoming more and more responsible for our own library needs. As someone who owns all of the above products and uses them frequently, I highly recommend that you invest in some of them as well so that you don’t wonder where your music is when you need it most!