Is it time to use the KonMari method in your piano studio?

2016

Have you heard of Marie Kondo and her KonMari method of organization? I was unaware until I woke up to an NPR story about her current reign over the empire of organization.

Her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, is a #1 New York Times best-22318578seller with over two million copies sold worldwide. Read more about Kondo and her magical publication here. She’s a trendsetter with a global following. Even her last name has been transformed into a verb.

Learning about Kondo’s book struck a chord with me (pun intended.) I heard of it just as I had begun writing this blog post about reorganizing my studio over the Christmas break. Although I had not read her book, it was if I had. I felt the urge to “kondo” my studio knowing that it would bring me a sense of calm and satisfaction before teaching in the new year.

The KonMari method includes three steps:

1) Tidy up in one shot as quickly and completely as possible. And, set a deadline for completion of the project.

2) Sort by category not by location. Instead of choosing a room, choose a “subject” to organize like books, clothes, tools, etc. Set out the items so you see them all at once. This will “shock you” into reality and will plant the question: are all of these necessary?

3) Selection criterion: does it “spark joy?” As you begin the sorting process make the focus on what you are keeping instead of what you are throwing away. To judge if an item sparks joy and worth keeping, hold, touch, study the item. This should cause your body to respond positively (or not) to the item and help you determine if it stays or goes.

This is a pretty quick summary of her method and book. Watch the video for a more comprehensive description.

The KonMari method used in my studio

Again, I had no idea that the KonMari method existed, but back in November, I felt things needed to shift in my teaching space. The books I used the most had no permanent location in my teaching area as there were too many other books taking up valuable space. In addition, with the rise of digital sheet music and self publishers, some of the old books just didn’t make the cut any more.

Finally, in December, I unknowingly followed the Kondo method of tidying up, adding a few extra steps. I determined:

  • The Category: Sheet music was the priority. For most of my teaching career I’ve magazine holders which I call bins to store music. The bins are labelled and stored on the shelves that line the wall.  My bins were overflowing–the sign that it’s time to “tidy up.”
  • The Goal: The music books needed to be rearranged so that I could easily access the ones I needed the most instead of running downstairs to my storage room.
  • The Deadline: Sorting through my books began at the beginning of the Christmas break which created a huge mess. The task had to be completed before teaching began in January.
  • The Degree of Usage: Here’s my slant on “sparking joy.” It’s easy to view every piece of music as priceless and hard to part with. I made a point to hold every book and think about when I used it last and if I would ever use it. Answering these two questions helped me purge a WHOLE bunch of books.
  • The Finish Line:  After my books were sorted, they were placed back in bins with updated labels to help with locating them. I’ve used this system for years. Once the bins get too full, that’s when it’s time to “tidy up.”
  • The Landing Place: Most of my books found a home in my studio. It’s still up in the air what to do with all the one’s that did not spark joy.

In the slide show below you’ll see other ways I’m organizing my space.

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A reorganized music app directory

Some of this organization obsession spilled over into other areas, including my blog site.

I’ve begun reorganizing my Music App Directory where I sort through and make lists of top apps for teaching, theory, piano, creativity…. Chords, Intervals and Comprehensive Theory have been recently updated. Check them out and stay tuned for more “kondoing” to come in other categories.

How to organize apps on the iPad

With this list, you’ll probably collect more apps! Create file folders on your iPad to keep them organized. Need folder titles? Borrow the titles included in my directory. To move apps into folders on your iPad, follow these steps:

  • Tap and hold on the icon of an app until it wiggles.
  • Drag that app with your fingertip over the top of another similar app. A file folder will be created and Apple will suggest a name for the folder.
  • To change the file title to a name you prefer, tap the X on the bar where the folder name appears and type in a new name.
  • Continue to tap and drag similar apps to that folder.
  • To STOP the icons from wiggling, press your HOME button.

I’ll stop for now, but an upcoming post will include some further ideas that you might consider to help you organize yourself, your iPad and your studio.

The best thing about reorganizing

The queen of clean, Marie Kondo may be a little over the top but treating yourself to some time to reassess your stuff, your apps, your sheet music may be the facelift your studio needs. You treat your students to new games, the latest apps, fresh repertoire and fun incentives. Why not treat yourself and spend time organizing. It made me feel more prepared and energized. In addition, it unearthed all kinds of items and apps that I’d forgotten to use in lessons so I’m excited to revisit them in 2016.

What are you hoping to “kondo” in your studio this year?


Treat yourself to some one-on-one time. I’d love to brainstorm, advise and of course, organize with you.

Tap on the photo below and learn more about how to set up lessons and/or consultations for you or presentations for your favorite teachers group.

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Leila Viss

Creative Pianist, Piano Teacher, Organist, Blogger and Author of The iPad Piano Studio

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Leila! This is wonderful!
    I, too, read (and re-read) this book a couple months ago and have since been on a mission to “tidy-up”. It has been fabulous. I love reading and learning from your ideas of organizing music…. Something that needs much attention at my studio.
    Thank you for sharing! It’s highly motivating to share in our journeys. 🙂
    Happy organizing! 😀

    • Thanks, Becky. Wow, I must live under a rock or something cuz I never heard of the book until just days ago. I’d love to hear who you have tidied up in your studio!

  • I purchased this book last fall on the recommendation of a friend. Unfortunately I haven’t had time to read it yet. Love this post and its timeliness. This is my New Years goal … to have my studio organized. It is a frustrating area right now. Thanks for the detailed share.

    • Thank you, Saundra. Sounds like you need to find the time to read the book but glad my post could help you along. Choosing one thing at a time to organize helps me the most. Best wishes!