With some score books, if you try to open it and put it on a support, it will close itself.

For the moment I have to force and fold it but it damages the spine of the book.

Do you have techniques to open those books without damaging them too much?

  • It seems like books of art songs are particularly bad in this regard, with piano scores typically being ok.
    – ecline6
    Commented May 3, 2013 at 16:53

7 Answers 7


You can try to soften the spine by opening it in various locations and flexing the book gently. (Here's a nice version of the procedure, with diagrams, even; and here's another, similar graphic, this one from a bookbinder.)

If that doesn't work, you can get a piece of clear plastic and leave it over the pages; not an ideal solution, but it will let you use the book.

In the end, don't be too concerned with keeping the book in mint condition, unless this is a valuable or rare volume. Break the spine if need be; you can always repair the book later, or hold it together with a rubber band. A book of scores is of no use if you can't use it.


A great longterm fix that I've found for this issue is to just take the score to a kinko's or other copy center and have them replace the binding with a spiral binding. This way, the book can stay open on any page and you don't have to worry about the binding breaking.

The only thing to watch out for is to make sure you don't lose any of the music when you have them change the binding over. But other than that, it's a great $5 investment!

  • I just did this at Staples . $5 ... and it's perfect Commented Jan 3, 2012 at 20:16

Book spines are intended to keep the book in its closed shape. As they age and are repeatedly opened, they start to stay open because the spine gets damaged. If you're careful, bending and folding won't make it any worse than the "natural" damage over time.

Another option is to cut out the spine altogether. You could punch holes in the margins and use a binder or something to keep everything together.

  • 3
    I've also seen a lot of spiral binding used to replace the original binding. Commented Apr 27, 2011 at 21:09
  • I was struggling to remember what that was called and gave up, my brain is slow today. Thanks :P
    – user28
    Commented Apr 27, 2011 at 21:10
  • I believe that it's necessary to tear books apart if they won't lie open, and to cut them or punch holes in them for ring binders or spiral binding. I do not like scribbling my own notes all over pristine sheets of music, but sometimes that is necessary also. I am a singer working with choral music and that requires many page turns all the time, and I feel it necessary to get the score into a physical format that I can handle in performance, by whatever means are necessary.
    – user1044
    Commented Sep 12, 2011 at 0:46
  • I concur. Break the spine. See if you can find a copy shop that will cut the "perfect" binding off. Punch the pages for a three-hole binder, or perhaps the copy shop can punch the pages for spiral binding. The purpose of sheet music that you own is for you to get it in any form that you can best use it.
    – user1044
    Commented Dec 11, 2011 at 21:07

I use clothespins to keep the pages open. :D

  • Page turns must be a hell then! And never will your book open gently…
    – Benoit
    Commented Apr 28, 2011 at 9:34
  • I never do page turns. I just memorise some parts if it takes more than 2 pages or when the pages are on opposite sides. If I play a longer piece, then I just use copies, that's easier. I'm not fast or handy enough at turning anyway, so I don't really care that much. Commented Apr 28, 2011 at 9:38
  • Doesn't this leave marks on your newly purchased score book? Commented May 12, 2011 at 15:15
  • No, unless the clothespins are dirty. But I keep some apart only for this purpose. ;D You have to be careful to not crumple the paper at the place where you apply them. Commented May 13, 2011 at 8:38
  • 1
    I would add that it's not always necessary to clamp the book with the clip. Sometimes you just need to put a clip on the top page to give it a little more weight. It can actually make page turns easier by giving you something to grab. Commented Feb 12, 2012 at 9:04

When I was growing up, my dad came up with a brilliant strategy for a stubborn binding:

Bandsaw off the spine, then spiral-bind the whole book.

Voilà! Well-behaved Mussorgsky.


The "Standard Method" for getting a book to stay open is to

  • Place the spine firmly on a table.

  • open both covers and fold flat (run your finger along the inside to help guide the fold on paperbacks)

  • fold down each page in turn, alernating sides, until you get to the middle.

This way should leave the spine intact, but able to lay flat.


See my answer to another question

  1. Copy the sheet music to separate sheets and lay them out side by side.
  2. If they don't fit, memorize the easy pages until you can discard them.
  3. Eventually memorize the whole song and become more impressive to watch. (this one can wait)

I know some people have a hard time with the memorize part, but I have gotten good at it and I hate page flipping :)

  • 1
    Copying to separate sheets is doable when the book fits in your digitization device. Most books are too large. Memorizing is what I always do (it comes with playing repeatedly). But at start you need to sight-read!
    – Benoit
    Commented Apr 28, 2011 at 9:34
  • Memorizing is definately the way to go for me. It also makes it easier to concentrate on the music.
    – Michael
    Commented Apr 28, 2011 at 17:05
  • @Benoit: Well if the book is too big, that makes a difference. You could use a camera and print out a picture. :), But anyway, I see you have already accepted a correct answer. Commented Apr 28, 2011 at 19:11

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