Some of the more recent TV boxes (Apple TV, Amazon, Roku, etc.) offer the ability to search across various networks to find the content you want. That’s a pretty compelling feature because I don’t always know which services carry which shows. Sometimes I just want to watch Top Gear without having to know the licensing deals of broadcast media companies.
How does this relate to music ministry? Well…
At the end of my post about using ratings in your library, I mentioned integrating libraries… and that sounds kind of fancy and maybe even a bit tech-y. It’s really not. In fact, this simple concept offers tremendous benefits when planning and combing through your music looking for that perfect piece. It’s an obvious solution now in my mind to a problem that had developed slowly over the years of using a music library database.
Here’s the problem, and the reason it prompted such an elegant solution: I was using Excel and had a spreadsheet for my own personal music. I also had a separate spreadsheet for my church’s music. When I wanted to search for a particular thing, I had to open up both files and search them both. What’s worse than that, though, is that the columns in these two files did not match, were different, meant different things according to who had input the data, etc.). If I bought a piece of music for the church and then also bought a personal copy, I had to make sure to enter it in both files.
Church file: Documents/Music Library.xls
(Putting one of these in my own personal list involved re-typing it, because the columns didn’t exactly match)
I got tired of inputting the piece TWICE and decided to make the columns match so I could at least copy/paste the row from one file to another. And then… an AH-HA moment. What if the libraries weren’t separate files at all? I could just have a “Library” column that told me which library contained the piece:
(And I can autofilter by Library to see just the titles that belong to that library. Yes!)
This simple step makes searching across multiple libraries a snap, and leverages the Ratings system in the process. Trust me, it’s really handy. My current database contains the records of my own music, three church music libraries that I have working familiarity with, a few records from friends who have presented music from their own collection to be used for the church, and even a library that consists of titles I don’t own, but heard somewhere and wanted to remember them for possible future use.
My options (specific for me) for column: LIBRARY:
- Andrew Duncan
- Fountain City UMC
- First UMC Oak Ridge
- Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church
- Noted (Not on hand)
Here’s a result of a real-life search using my database. I want to find a Youth Choir piece for the Christmas/Advent season – Advent being preferable because I want it to use it in early December. I would like to see what I have for SAB choir and piano, and would like to see the results sorted by their Rating:
Looks like Mark Patterson’s “Jesus Christ the Apple Tree” or Mark Miller’s “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” might be worth investigating. And, you’ll notice that “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” is in the library of First UMC Oak Ridge, so it is a title that has seen some use and might possibly be more familiar. I also know where to go to look at these pieces for the next step of planning.
If you like this idea and want to give it a try, here’s the step-by-step plan:
- Make a backup of your existing files just in case something goes wrong. Then…
- Create a new, “master” spreadsheet.
- Decide what columns you want in your new master spreadsheet, and what those column headers mean as well as their order from left to right
- Now go to your existing spreadsheet(s) and add/move/rename columns until they match the layout of the master spreadsheet.
- Once everything matches, you can simply copy/paste from your existing spreadsheet(s) into the master spreadsheet. (OR use the Save As function to skip this step and step 2). Repeat as necessary for each spreadsheet.
- Enjoy your newly integrated view of your already researched musical options.
This is a small investment of time that pays large dividends – and allows me to be a good steward of my church’s resources.
Soli Deo Gloria.