Music Storage – Part 1

After many years of inadequate storage/organization, I’m embarking (slowly) on a voyage to organize my music.

Goals for storage:

  • Easy to find by instrumentation
  • Fits in my Ikea Kallax shelves
  • Portable for rehearsals away from home
  • Fits paper that’s 10×13 if possible, but 9×12 a must

I have found an inexpensive, temporary solution. Here are the pros and cons. Any suggestions welcome!

I currently have two brands of plastic, latching cases. I bought both at Michael’s (best price), but links to Amazon below.

1)  Iris Portable Project Cases (link)

Interior dimensions 12 1/2 x 10 1/8 x 2 1/4 (inches).  But it’s actually 3″ thick all told; there’s a lot of dead space in the lid that’s only useful if you’re willing to stack above the base height and close the lid carefully. Then you get 2.5″ of thickness (lid bumps in, so maybe 2.75″ if it’s letter sized and you’re not in a hurry).


The latches on these are ok. They’re just the plastic bending hinges, so I don’t know how they’ll hold up long term, but I got 6 and the plastic wasn’t warped on any of them, and the seal with a satisfying click.  They’re plenty large for nearly all my music. They stack nicely, and lock reasonably securely into the box below. The just barely fit in my bookcase, so that’s perfect; no dead space.  They are thicker than I need for most categories of music though, so while I have plenty o f 2-oboe and bassoon trios to fill a whole box, they’re not very efficient for other categories.  I know I can combine 2 or 3 categories in one box, but that defeats the ‘portability’ qualifier, since it means I drag a lot of extra weight around with me.


2) Iris Slim Portable Project Cases (link)

I wanted to love these. I wanted them to be a thinner version of the above case, so they’d stack neatly, but be more efficient for arrangements I have fewer pieces of. They failed on so many counts, they went back immediately.

  • Different dimensions than their thicker counterparts
  • Don’t stack with the larger size
  • Latches are super cheap, and half of them didn’t even engage when brand new
  • Plastic was thinner, and deformed more readily


3) Iris Slim Portable Project Cases with Buckle (link)

My feeling about these cases is incredibly mixed, but I got a good deal and have no better solution, so this is what most of my music is in at the moment.

Interior dimensions: 9.25″ x 12.25″ x 1.5″  They’re not much more than 1.75″ tall, so much more reasonable for most of the volumes of music I need to store. They don’t fit 10×13 music… this is only the problem for the occasional piece or two, and those go in the larger cases.  I really like the buckle; they’ve stayed closed so far when being thrown into gig bags, randomly in the back of the car, etc. The big problem with these is that the plastic is too thin, and the sides bow. They have a great channel to securely close, but the channel doesn’t always line up because of the distorted sides. They also don’t lock into each other when they stack. So when you pull out one, the whole stack falls over.

I also used some of my spare scrapbook paper boxes to hold the other stuff, including some ones meant for 12×12 paper to hold orchestral parts (not shown).  I really preferred my old method of using letter-size hanging files inside the plastic holders and magazine files, but too much of my music is 9×12 for this to work anymore. And the legal size ones still don’t help, since 10×13 paper is too wide for them.  I’m happy with a mixed solution, if anyone has other suggestions!

Or maybe we should develop a line of office supplies targeted toward 10×13 paper…  How is this not a thing?