Lean and music, it’s possible, for example, with a correct score management!

Lean and music, it’s possible, for example, with a correct score management!

Jan 30, 2019 Blog by Matthieu LEGER
“Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.” - H. James Harrington

In January 2019, in a small city in Normandy (France), I participated in a general meeting about one wind instruments orchestra where I am playing French horn for almost 10 years. It was the annual meeting about the current situation and future development of the band.


During this meeting, among topics discussed, we started to speak about the inventory of instruments. When this topic was over, I started to ask what about scores stored in archives: “Do we have a deep inventory of scores? Do we know the orchestration (list and number of instruments) for each piece?”.


The answer was no and the board told me: “Matthieu, you just took a very good initiative, we have to do it.” But some resistances came up and told to the board (and to me) that this kind of initiative will be too long and nobody would like to start. I replied that “If we do not start as soon as possible, the job will never be done.” Then, to launch the process, I added: “I can start to perform the job as soon as possible, but it will take me a lot of times to finish it”. The following week, I started the job and it is ongoing.


There were several reasons why I highlighted this issue (about the mess within scores). In fact, several people complained about:

  • The waste of time when they were looking for a score (generally for the horn part, I was spending 2-3 minutes for each piece to find it) and it was the same for everybody
  • The lack of control about scores returned back to the archive
  • The huge risk to loose scores (for the chief and musicians)
  • Difficulties to look for one piece on shelves
  • Difficulties for the conductor to select one piece when he/she has only a few players in the band and to plan the concert’s program

When you see my reasons, you start to think about how it is possible to get this situation. It is due to some negligence from everybody for several years. I am pretty sure that you are facing this kind of situation at work and/or within organizations that you are helping.


Coming from my observations, my idea is to have a very efficient organization during rehearsals, to have better scores’ management in the archive to facilitate the conductor, archivist and musicians' life.

To achieve it and reach my goal (to have everything in order with a deep inventory), I decided to use the 5S methodology.


My FIRST ACTION was to create an Excel file to collect data and to build the database. Data selected are the title, composers, arrangers, the type of conductor (master score for the chief) and columns with instruments’ name (to fulfill with the number of scores found for each instrument).


When this file was established, I PLANNED the work and the way to perform it. I decided to make it by titles’ alphabetic order. What I AM DOING for each piece (stored in folders with parts), it is to:

  • Sort every parts instrument by instrument
  • Set in order every instrument (from piccolo/flute to percussions)
  • Shine them by creating subfolders for each part
  • Standardize by completing the Excel file with the exact instrumentation, putting subfolders in the main folder in the correct order and put the main folder in the right place within the archive
  • Sustain by doing the same for each piece found on shelves

Furthermore, for each piece, I perform a CHECK by counting twice, parts to be sure that nothing was missing. Then, I am running the same ACTION (BUT ON THE LONG-TERM) for each piece found. Because it is time-consuming, just for 2 pieces, I spent one hour (alone), and it is two on almost 300 pieces… But in the end, we will have a real picture of the situation.


We can observe that the 5S methodology and Lean tools might be used for an orchestra but as well for every organizations which want to reduce their wastes of time in their archives or administrative structure (to look for something for example), to set in order their storage and to improve their efficiency.


Have you already observe that, by using the Lean methodology, you will have a better efficiency within your organization? Please, feel free to contact our consultant or to give your feedback below.

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