Product Review: New choral folders from Small World

December 2, 2011

For years, The Leading Note has stocked a variety of choral folders including inexpensive models suitable for children’s choirs, a folder from Marlo that is perfectly sized for a standard octavo, and the classic Black Folder Deluxe from Vancouver’s Small World Music Folder company that is perfect for professional singer.  This best-selling folder has a wide variety of features and is truly robust and dependable.

To fill the gap between this top-of-the-line folder and the smaller, less-expensive options, we have decided to stock two other folders from Small World.  The Choralex and Ringbinder each offer unique features that complement what the Black Folder Deluxe offers rather than replace it.

The Black Folder Deluxe is a best-seller because it is both a feature-rich performance folder and extremely suitable for rehearsal use.  It can carry many scores and will stand up to the abuse that daily rehearsals inevitably inflicts on overworked choral folders.  It is a large folder which makes it great for large scores but this same quality means it can be too bulky for a crowded stage.

The Choralex folder is a perfect substitute for tight performance spaces.   When open, the Choralex is one inch narrower than the Black Folder Deluxe.  This seemingly small difference is surprisingly effective.  Like its larger complement, the Choralex includes the same hinged spine with retainer chords that helps to keep scores in place during performance.

Unlike the Black Folder Deluxe, however, the Choralex does not include the deep gusset pockets that make the other folder a useful storage medium for daily rehearsals.  The rear pocket is narrow and open at one end.  It will hold only one or two scores comfortably.  The unique front pocket adds an extrememly useful feature but also, in my opinion, a weakness to the otherwise solid and durable product.

The front pocket is made of a transparent plastic intended to hold a concert program.  With this feature, the singer can read the program without pulling it out of the pocket.  Singers in lengthy programs will find this feature very handy.  Please keep in mind, however, that the pocket is not intended to store thick scores; consequently the pocket, which is glued to the folder, can tear away if it is overfilled.

You may know already that a 3-ring insert is available for the Black Folder Deluxe (and Choralex).  This handy device attaches to the retainer chords in the folder so that you can put loose sheets or punched octavos in the folder.  Because of the design of the hinge in the folders, only a 1/2-inch ring will fit.  While this is fine for a short program, sometimes a gig requires a wider ring!

Small World’s new Ringbinder Folder fills this need.  Built using the same leatherette exterior and brass corners found on the Black Folder Deluxe and Choralex Folder, the Ringbinder includes a larger 1-inch ring.  The interior pockets of the Ringbinder are the same as the Choralex: the rear pocket is shallow, suitable for a few small scores; the front pocket is transparent plastic and glued to the binder.  Please note my comments above about this pocket as they apply equally to the Ringbinder as the Choralex.

The Ringbinder is ideal for singers who perform with many loose sheets.  Unlike cheap 3-ring binders from stationary stores, the Ringbinder has a hand strap and retention strap to prevent sore muscles in the hand.  Pencil holders and business card slots are also standard.

While the Black Folder Deluxe remains the top-of-the-line product from Small World and The Leading Note’s best all-purpose choral folder, the Choralex and Ringbinder provide unique features that fill a particular needs: the Choralex is more compact and the Ringbinder has a 2-ring binding twice the size of the Black Folder Deluxe.  I recommend these folders as supplements to the Black Folder Deluxe rather than replacements.


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