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Creating a choral Database

Wow! I was so thrilled to get so many responses! Here they are:

Original question:
I would like to purchase a software database to organize my choral library
(right now we use a card-catalog system - yuck!). Does anyone have experience
with any good ones? I have a sample copy of "My Music Librarian", which is
pretty close to what I'm looking for, but I would love to know if there is anything
else out there. Please respond privately and I will post a compilation if
there is interest. Thank you for your collective help!

Alison Wall
Horseheads High School
Horseheads, NY
I have created at data base in Apple Works 6 which works very well for
me. You can tailor to any criteria which I can think of.
This has often been asked on Choralist, and the consensus is that a
general-purpose database program, such as FileMaker, is a better
choice than a music-specialized program.
Your recent post to the CHORALIST Digest was brought to my attention this
evening. If you are looking for a sheet music cataloging application for
your choral library, let me recommend the Performance Library Database. The
Performance Library Database, or PLD as we like to call it, was developed
with your exact scenario in mind - to avoid the complexities and
inconsistencies of card catalog methods and streamline the management of

I invite you to read about the PLD at and to contact me directly with any
questions that you might have about the product. In addition, you are also
invited to signup for a free demo account so that you can get a real feel
for how the PLD works and see if it is right for your specific needs. You
can signup for the free account instantly at
Having used some of the "filing" programs that are out there, I'd recommend
that you consider using Microsoft Access or Excel to set up your filing
system. Once you have it set-up (which requires a little work) I have found
it to be the most powerful way to handle a music library. Plus, you are
able to print catalogs using merge with Microsoft Word, as well as making
file labels, etc. I'd be happy to give more info. if you'd like. Hope this
I have a database of my personal collection on AppleWorks 5 on my home Mac.
It took some time typing everything in but I suppose you are ready for that. I
like the layout of the records. Look into Microsoft Office/Excel. I have it
but have never used the Excel portion.
Please compile your findings! I am having my students "build" a custom
database, modeled after Musica (to help make data entry easier!). When
it is up and running, I'll let you know. It is a barcode system, and
uses software that is readily available. Keep your fingers crossed!
I use Microsoft Access for my choral library - if you have Microsoft Office
you should already have this program. It's easy to use and
customizable. I'd be happy to e-mail you my library file so you can look
at it.
HAve you thought of just using microsoft access? Its easy to use, nothing
fancy, but its just what we need.
Otherwise, Luther college in Decorah IA uses a great program, check with
them. 800-4-luther ask for Doris in the music department
I have a Microsoft Access database that I designed that works wonders.
You can also use EXCEL and make your own.
If you want to see my file I will be glad to send it to you.
If you don't have enough interest to post, would you mind forwarding
what results you do get to me?? I am in a similar situation, except that I
don't even have a card catalog to work with.

The band director and I have looked at a program called PrimaSoft, and
the band program at IUP uses a program called FileMaker. As of yet we are
still not sure which one we want to go with. The PrimaSoft program features
a 45 day free trial, so I think we will try that and see what we think.
I sold a system some years ago. Keeping up with changing software and
hardware, however, let me to import the file in a database using Excel.
That seems to work better, especially when the position changes hands and
someone comes in that does not know the current software. I've attached an
small sample version of the current Excel file.
I don't know how much you know about Access, but I
have built several choral library databases with
Access. If you have a computer teacher at your high
school, you may as him/her about building one, or
maybe a student could. It's cheap (free if you have
the software) and can be customized any way you want.

Just a thought.
Greetings from Tokyo, Japan

We created our library database on Panorama (14 years ago), and easily made
it just the way we wanted it... and we continue to "tweak" it.

My categories include the following:
# of copies
Location in the files
type of music (Christmas, musical, teaching text, jazz, spiritual,etc.)
single copy price which is linked in the next column to how much the whole
thing is valued for
Who performed it and when (done with a code: HS03= high school choir

I can easily design my own reports, sort on any category of the database
(like look at all Christmas titles or everything performed in 1999 at the HS

EVERYTHING is on there in including books that I teach private lessons from.

If you have a card file, you are ready to set up your database because
obviously you know what information is important to you. A company
designed, turn-key program is not going to know that.

Hope this helps.
I really like the RCI Music Library program. Go to and check
it out. I believe it
is the most comprehensive and user friendly software.\
At various times I have set up a music library database just using a word
processing program - WordPerfect or Word - and it worked just fine. More
recently I have set up a large library in Excel, which has tremendous
flexibility. If I had the time to think it through, I would set it up using

My experience in the past is that, almost as important as the database
itself, is having a system that can be maintained easily by more than just
you. Using an existing program (such as Excel) that is widely used in the
"real" world greatly expands the possibilities of having it be useful and
usable by more than one person (you might not always be there, either!)
I use MS Works spreadsheet. I've never wished for anything else. I
don't keep tally of when we sang which anthem (too much computer work!),
but if you want something simple, cheap and readily available, I'd
recommend any old spreadsheet.
Good luck!
I have just begun the process of cataloging our choral library also - what a
job! Anyway, the program I have heard most mentioned is Filemaker Pro. . . I
haven't purchased it yet, so would be very interested in hearing what others
have to say. Please post a compilation if you think it is warranted.
We use Filemake Pro rather than a prefabricated music library database.
It's fairly easy to create a database to suit your particular needs with
this software.
PLease read the page

What is Musica database -> How to manage a music library,
in the left side menu of
I bought a system, and then continued to use Excel for my library. Excel
works fine and is not as complicated as the system I had bought.
I am a college student and we had to put a library
system together and the best thing we figured out was
using Microsoft Excel. It's already on your PC and
you can just go to the "find" button and locate your
music based on how you organized your file. It's
cheap, it's easy, and you don't have to figure out any
new software we know none of us have the time to
invest our energy and time in. Hope this helps
Our organization has had great success with a semi-custom choral library
designed for our needs (as we describe them). It is based on File Maker Pro
and put together for us by our web master Teddi Harring who owns Images
Everything. (Web site **DELETED BY ADMIN**)

Teddi has several choral clients, including Young Voices of Colorado and the
Children's Chorus of Washington (D.C.)

She demonstrated her products (she also does choral management software,
again custom-designed for the client) at this summer's Chorus America
conference in Kansas City, and generated a lot of interest.

We are very pleased with her products and her prices. You can email her at:

Another way you can see Teddi's work is to visit our web site at:

Good luck with your project.
Go to and check out a demo. Les

I use Microsoft Access, which comes with MS office set. It's easy, simple
to use. You just name and fill in the categories you want, then sort and
print by what category you want. Now, I have printouts of the catalog
sorted alphabetically by composer and by title, but I could also do it by
genre, language, serial number, etc.
Make your own. It's easy with any of the imbedded database programs like
Access. I made one for my church choral library, so I was able to include what I
wanted, like cataloge number, scriptural references, liturgical use, etc.

Only "pretty close?" Version 2 is nearly finished and adds a lot of
newcapabilities, including:
Customizable reports in all areas of the program.
Three levels of user-selectable sorting for reports and screens.
Management of Uniforms, Instruments, and Accessories with screensand reports
like those in Library.
A lookup for Season, with the liturgical seasons of the Christianand Jewish
A lookup for Format to allow you to manage not only sheet music,but also
CDs, DVDs, accompaniment tapes, books, records, etc.
The ability to track relatives of your Roster personnel -- parents,
step-parents, etc.
The ability to track sizes of your Roster personnel for costumes,etc.
Much greater flexibility in the Performance Program creator, including font
sizes and attributes; the ability to add Composers',Lyricists', and Arrangers'
dates; inclusion of Rosters forperformances, and much more.

And the ability to upgrade from Version 1 at no cost.

Did I miss something you were looking for?

- - -
John W. Leeger
Your Music Librarian, Inc.
My school acutally wrote a program for me. You might want to check with
BOCES and see if they could do that for you. It is usually cheaper and
certaily customizable.
If you use a Macintosh computer, I highly recommend simply using a database
in AppleWorks. The big advantage is that you can create and organize any kind
of field of information you wish to use.

If you use a PC, I'm not quite sure of the best way to go. We had some fancy
cataloging software when I started teaching at this school, but I got so sick
of it that I just used AppleWorks. It's much faster and I can lay it out,
sort in any way, and search within the docment.
I've got RCI Music Library, which I like quite a lot (

David Topping recommended it.

Good luck!

on October 26, 2003 10:00pm
I am the music librarian at my church and have found Microsoft Access to be perfect for the library. I can create as many fields as I want and personalize the program to our library. It is simple to follow, transfers from computer to computer easily (as all of the church computers use Microsoft Office) and can create labels through Word so I don't have to kill my hand writing them all out. I also have two print outs of the program in alphabetical order by composer and by title. I am currently to a project for a choral methods class I am taking on Creating a Choral Database. There are a number of excellent programs out there, but Access seems to be the most cost efficient and works as well as any of the others.

Melissa Hickok
Student University of Alabama
on November 1, 2003 10:00pm
on November 1, 2003 10:00pm
Do you really want to spend time developing a database? Music teachers should spend time teaching music, not sitting in front of a computer.

There is only one solution that gives you access to your music library from ANY computer, not just your office computer. If you want to work from home, or browse your library from a conference, or check the HS library while at the MS, take a look at CHARMS:

Charms Music Office Assistant

There is a free demo and a free 60 day trial period to see if you like it.
on May 25, 2004 10:00pm
What I want to do I haven't seen described here. I'd like to create a database of all the works my chorus has performed with a record for each performance. I've designed a very basic record in MS Access, but I'd like it to be searchable through our chorus's Web site. So for instance it would be possible to see when the chorus has performed, say, the Brahms Requiem, with what orchestra, soloists, conductor, in what venues, over the years of our history. I'd appreciate hearing from others who have done this; I haven't gotten beyond the basic data table to searches, much less figuring out how to make this searchable on line.

Philip Jones (NOT of the eponymous brass ensemble)
Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia
on August 11, 2005 10:00pm
I am about to set up a choral library for the first time. I'm new to the school and the filing system needs help. I would rather not re-invent the wheel. After looking at several responses, I've decided that MS Access is the best for me. If you already have a database set up, is it possible for you to send me the set-up via email? I've never worked with Access before, so I'm new at this. I have a lot of work to do, and learning how to set up everything in Access is not a battle I'd like to take on right now.

Shelly Wiltfong
Holland Hall Middle School
on May 27, 2008 10:00pm
I am looking for directions on how to use Access or Excel to build my choral library database. I specifically want the program to automatically assign a catalog number with each title entry and ability to print that out with the Title, Voicing and Genre. This way I can print out lables for the file folders and be able to find the piece of music. I have hundreds of titles. Any advice appreciated. I have tried some of the expensive programs and know that it has to be simple once you know the formula. Thanks
on December 24, 2008 10:00pm
I'm trying to use Excel for my church music library, and while I have entered most of the data into a spreadsheet (composer, genre, voicing, season, etc.) I remain dissatisfied with the layout and feel. I'd love to find a program that could do all this in a simple, easy to use graphical format, that would be searchable.

Thanks for this message string!
on March 1, 2009 10:00pm
Not any more. Thanks for the tip.
on March 1, 2009 10:00pm
While exploring the links above looking for a choral music database, I found that one of them (**DELETED BY ADMIN**) leads to a pornography website. Thought you might want to know that.