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Let’s Talk Page Turns

Dec 11, 2018

Page turns. Everybody’s favorite thing. The first law of typesetting seems to be,

Thou shalt ALWAYS put page turns in the WORST POSSIBLE PLACES.


Yep. Been there.

The struggle with page turns is real. If you’re like me, you’ve tried long, taped-together copies that you throw to the floor when you need the next layer. Or made someone stand beside you looking awkward until you nodded frantically at them. Or balanced copies on the music rack until the cooling system came on and blew them all over the chapel.


So here’s a solution a friend showed me years ago. It’s admittedly a love-it-or-hate-it method that some people find too confusing and others can’t live without. I love it.

1) Use two three-ring binders. Add several plastic sheet protectors to both. (You’ll want the ones that allow you to slide the pages in and out, and be sure you use the non-glare kind.)

2) You’ll need a single-sided copy of your music, or two or three copies that you can take apart.

3) Lay the open binders side by side. Fill the sheet protectors with pages in this order:

Left binder:

  • Page 1 on the left
  • Page 2 on the right

Right binder:

  • Page 3 on the left
  • Page 4 on the right

If your song is only four pages long, you’re set, and your life is beautiful. No page turns, no tape, no head bobbing, and nothing to fear from the HVAC system.

Since there *are* a few songs out there with more than four pages, here’s the next step:

Turn pages 2 and 4, so you are seeing the blank backside of page 2, an empty sheet protector, the blank backside of page 4, and another empty sheet protector.

Then load pages 5-8.

Repeat the process for pages 9 and beyond, beginning with the next empty slots.

When you play, start with pages 1-4 showing like this:

After playing through pages 1 & 2, find a convenient place during pages 3 &4 to turn page 2 so that pages 5 & 6 are available.  Your music rack will then look like this:

After playing through pages 3 & 4, pages 5 & 6 are ready to go. While playing through 5 & 6, find a convenient place to turn page 4, making pages 7 & 8 available.

Und so weiter.

Now that I have the hang of this system, I couldn’t live without it. It gives you two entire pages to find time for each page turn. I find it best to mark page turns on the music — usually with a big, red, “TURN PAGE” … because yeah, I get caught up in the moment and float away in the music and… it’s an excuse to use colored ink and I’m a sucker for office products.

So there you have it. Love it or hate it. It’s one of those HOoOooRaY! or NO WAY things… kinda like PC and Mac arguments. 🙂

Happy Tuesday!

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