All the Church Music Tracking Tools I Use Weekly (Mostly Free)

Being a church music director is sometimes less about music and more about administration. Meaning: you sing on Sundays but do paperwork Monday through Friday.

While a music director might spend a lot of time practicing with groups or arranging music, a good portion of his week might be planning orders of service, choosing congregational songs, laying out the special music calendar, purchasing choirbooks, or making sure small groups don’t double up on the same song. That takes a lot of tracking!

I’m not against software that can do this for you, but I think:

  1. Software programs are expensive. Some are hundreds of dollars. I prefer free, myself.
  2. They have a learning curve. Not a huge deal, but it takes time to know what buttons to push.
  3. They don’t work on every device. I’m looking for the lowest common denominator when working with so much data, and one app won’t always work everywhere all the time.
  4. They can’t be easily shared. With so many volunteers involved in the music ministry, I like things to be as simple as possible.  Purchasing licenses, downloading apps, or exporting/importing databases is not easy.


My Weekly Tools

So, I resort to the tools I already own. And ones that are free (mostly).

Each medium and person involved requires a different tool. I use a these weekly:

Microsoft Word


Microsoft Word. Sure, I’m on a Mac, but I still like the power of Word. You can use Apple’s Pages or something free like Google Docs or OpenOffice, but I prefer tools that most people already have. For the music ministry, I use Word for the following:

  • Orders of service. A secretary takes the service info and compiles it into a 2-sided printed sheet for morning and evening services. This includes choir openers, congregational singing, prayer times, special music, offertory, choir special, preaching, and invitation, as well as any special events, presentations, guest speakers, etc.
  • Choir sheets. Every Sunday afternoon, each choir member receives a half-sheet announcement sheet with a 250-word note, any choir-related announcements and the upcoming 3 months’ song schedule.

Note: Microsoft Word is my only non-free tool, but for about $100 per year, we get 5 licenses to use on multiple machines. Most people already have Word, anyway. For a small church staff, THIS (Office 65 Home) makes the most sense (especially since my church staff is family!) 




Dropbox. All my Word documents are stored in a Dropbox folder that is shared with respective volunteers who keep things updated or printed. For example:

  • Orders of service. A volunteer teen lady inputs the hymn title, song number, choir opener, choir special, and special music from the various spreadsheets or calendars that are preset. She rotates through a set of choir openers, for example, and inputs the songs I have pre-chosen on the spreadsheet that she has access to. She then saves her work, and a church secretary opens and prints for the services.
  • Choir sheets. I open the previous week’s document and Save As a new document. I then write the note, change the announcement details, update the schedule (bold the songs that are done so they know which music to turn in), and save. A secretary prints and distributes them into the choir members’ numbered boxes.
  • Choir music scans. A secretary scans (using “Scanner Pro” app or free “Genius Scan” app on iPhone) and uploads multi-page PDF images to a shared folder on Dropbox called “Choir Music.” Inside that folder are two more folders: “Current Music” and “Used Music.” I conduct choir rehearsals each week from my 12.9″ iPad Pro so I can make notes and carry all my music in one place (and view a full-sized sheet of music), and I access the dropbox folder with an app called PDF Expert by Readdle (has one-page view instead of “scroll” view, although other dedicated music apps with page-turn foot pedals might work better. Recommendations? Comment below, please!)
  • Piano recordings. When we are learning new songs, our pianist records the individual parts on the piano and shares the audio files with me via Dropbox. I either share the file directly with the individual (through a shared Dropbox link or uploaded to our church website), or use that audio file to burn a CD.

Note: Dropbox offers free storage upgrades for referrals and options like their “Camera upload” feature. I have almost 12 GB of  storage, which keeps me in the “free tools” category. For simple Microsoft Word files (no images or other large file types), the 2 GB starting storage space is ample. Click here for an extra 500 MB of storage (for both of us.)




Google. The free tools available from Google can unify your music ministry. I use Google personally for email, calendars, document storage, spreadsheets (Drive), personalized web search, video (YouTube), website tracking (Analytics), maps, online payments (Wallet), and more. Specifically for the music ministry, I use the following tools:

  • Google Calendar. We sync several calendars across our music ministry. Google calendars can be shared with anyone who has a Google account (I have found most people have one already), and are accessible on most devices. I color each calendar separately so I can tell at a glance what each “event” is. Here are our shared calendars:
    • Choir. The title of the song is the “event” for the day. This calendar is shared with the pianist, the church secretaries and anyone else who wants it. It can be embedded on the “Choir” page on the website for anyone to see.
    • Special Music. Both specials are listed in the same event. i.e. “AM-Chorale, PM-Jamie R.” Again, this calendar is shared with whoever wants it.
    • Orders of Service. A secretary pastes the full “Order of Service” sheet into the event’s “notes” section, staying two weeks ahead of schedule. This is shared with the orchestra leader (to rehearse upcoming songs), the church secretary (inputs into bulletin) and the pianist (to not overlap offertory songs).
    • VacationsWhen people tell me they will be gone on a certain date, I note it on this calendar with a simple “John Smith gone” event.
  • Google Drive (Docs and Sheets). Google Drive offers 15 GB of free storage and syncs it across all your devices. This is PLENTY of room for email attachments, spreadsheets and notes of all kinds. Specifically related to music, however, I mainly use spreadsheets (Google Sheets.) You can lock the top row (View> Freeze> 1 Row) and sort each column alphabetically if you need to find something in a different order (i.e. by song number, by song title, by last date sung, etc.) These are our two main music ministry spreadsheets:sample-music-tracking-spreadsheet
    • Music tracking. This master document tracks all things music, except for personnel. I devoted an entire post to dissect this document (posted here). It is split into several tabs: HYMNAL #s, OPENERS, CHOIR TRACKING, and SPECIAL MUSIC. This sheet easily tracks the hymnals we use (title, number, # of verses, etc.), the date and service songs, the first line of verse and chorus, and various hymn story books we have. More on this later.


  • sample-choir-members-spreadsheetChoir membersEach choir member has an assigned number slot into which all his previous music is placed, as well as weekly announcement sheets. This spreadsheet has several columns: NUMBER, LAST NAME, FIRST NAME, MORNING (Attendance), AFTERNOON (attendance), PART (satb), EMAIL, PHONE, DATE STARTED. At the bottom of the sheet is an “ARCHIVE” section. When a choir member drops out, his information is dragged down to this section for future reference. Should they some day return, they can usually get their old music back. 

What are your thoughts? Have anything to add? What tools do you use, and what can be improved? Mention it in the comments below…