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Old 07-13-2019, 10:18 PM
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Musician using iPad/tablet during performance instead of sheet music


I attended a chamber music concert this evening. A couple of the musicians in a sextet had iPads or the equivalent on their stands (violin and cello) instead of paper sheet music. How does this work exactly? I never saw the violinist touch the screen to advance the music. Can you set it up so the music scrolls down at the proper speed? The accompanist who plays for my college choir sometimes uses an iPad, but she does touch the screen to "turn the page." This could certainly simplify the job of the orchestra/choir librarian.
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Old 07-13-2019, 11:18 PM
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They may be using foot pedals like this.
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Old 07-13-2019, 11:25 PM
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Could have been using using a pedal-operated page turner, connected to the tablet via Bluetooth, like this one: https://youtu.be/h9b-b9Swowo
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Old 07-14-2019, 12:20 AM
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Old 07-14-2019, 07:49 AM
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Quote:
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They may be using foot pedals like this.
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Originally Posted by Terminus Est View Post
Could have been using using a pedal-operated page turner, connected to the tablet via Bluetooth, like this one: https://youtu.be/h9b-b9Swowo
OHHHH! <light bulb over head> I do recall the stagehand putting something on the floor. There was a cellist, and I assumed it was an anchor for his end pin. But now that I think of it, there were a couple of those little things on the floor.
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Old 07-14-2019, 07:58 AM
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I've been trying to get my wife--the church music director/pianist/organist/handbell director--to use a system like this, but she's a Luddite (they worship Ludds).

Last edited by burpo the wonder mutt; 07-14-2019 at 07:58 AM.
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Old 07-14-2019, 10:51 AM
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Glory be to Ludd. Amen.
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Old 07-14-2019, 10:55 AM
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On our last cruise, there was a string quartet and they all used electronic pads and the pedals. Interestingly, at one point, the violinists swapped pads. Maybe they decided to switch the parts they were playing for that selection?
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Old 07-14-2019, 09:35 PM
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If you're playing lots of music that you have to read, a tablet is the way to go.
You can find the piece quickly and it's backlit, a godsend in most places. Even mediocre players like me with just 20 simple childrens'-mass songs love them.
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Old 07-14-2019, 10:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ají de Gallina View Post
If you're playing lots of music that you have to read, a tablet is the way to go.
You can find the piece quickly and it's backlit, a godsend in most places. Even mediocre players like me with just 20 simple childrens'-mass songs love them.
I can see where the backlighting would be fantastic.

What software do you use? Where do you get the music? Is it like books, where you go to the sheet music site, and you can order a paper copy or a digital copy?
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Old 07-16-2019, 07:18 AM
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Hmm our church uses ipads as music sheets when playing music.

Seems like a good idea that's more efficient.
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Old 07-16-2019, 07:24 AM
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Hmm our church uses ipads as music sheets when playing music.

Seems like a good idea that's more efficient.
Well, it depends. You need power. You need accessories. If you drop it or it falls, you could break a $1,000 gadget.
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Old 07-16-2019, 08:09 AM
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Well, it depends. You need power. You need accessories. If you drop it or it falls, you could break a $1,000 gadget.
A standard ipad cost $330.
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Old 07-16-2019, 08:14 AM
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I use an iPad while singing. My current sheet music collection would be about a foot and a half thick on paper, but it all fits on the iPad. Works very very well.


Except that one time the alarm started ringing during a performance...
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Old 07-16-2019, 08:27 AM
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Yeah could be. I figure they have basic ones or maybe each person brings their own.
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Old 07-16-2019, 08:56 AM
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I am a pianist who spends hours a week in rehearsals or performance.

I have an old-ish iPad that I do put music on. For things like lead sheets it's just as good or better than having a book or binder.

For piano music on a grand staff, it's a little small to read. The new iPads are much larger and come fairly close to 8.5x11, so are probably quite legible.

That said, I have 25 years of practice with page turning paper, and it's a pretty fool-proof process at this point. Going digital in mission-critical situations adds a layer of stress, a layer of distrust, and a layer of inexperience that is not acceptable to me.

Also, with a single screen, I'm "turning pages" twice as often as with a book/binder, which is a fairly significant disruption. And, with a lot of my playing coming out of musical theatre scores, there are often times when pages might only have 2-6 measures. With 2-up, that's playable; with 1-up, it's ridiculous.

That said, there are many benefits to digital music. One of the largest, for ensemble work, is that notes/edits can be made to a master and arrive on the musicians' stands automatically, without having to print and distribute new copies to an orchestra.

For me, other than a few specific circumstances (jazz sets where I'm reading lead sheets), the benefits haven't outweighed the drawbacks, yet.
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Old 07-16-2019, 10:59 AM
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Eonwe, your points about the risks of using digital music are very well made. I was wondering about transitioning to using a foot button to turn pages after thousands of hours of learning to turn pages by hand.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eonwe View Post
...I have an old-ish iPad that I do put music on. ....
Dumb/naive question: how do you get the music on there? Scan it? Or buy a digital version?
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Old 07-16-2019, 11:03 AM
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^ Scotch tape.

Alright, I'm goin'.

Last edited by burpo the wonder mutt; 07-16-2019 at 11:03 AM.
  #19  
Old 07-16-2019, 11:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThelmaLou View Post
Eonwe, your points about the risks of using digital music are very well made. I was wondering about transitioning to using a foot button to turn pages after thousands of hours of learning to turn pages by hand.

Dumb/naive question: how do you get the music on there? Scan it? Or buy a digital version?
Caveat: some of the legalities of this are murky, but I'm describing pretty common workflows. I am not recommending anyone do any of the following.
  • Some I've scanned, though that's a pretty laborious process, as you could imagine, particularly for things that are bound.
  • Some I've bought digitally.
  • Some books or songs I own paper versions of (or have a license to use), but I've found copies of online.

It's all pdfs (though image files also work), and I use the app forScore to access it all, build set lists, and basically manage the files. I store some of it on my iPad, but use Google Drive to store my archive and can access it all from within forScore (well, Google recently removed the APIs that forScore used, so I'm looking into migrating to Dropbox).

Like any media library, a great benefit of going digital with sheet music is meta data and searching. I've got thousands of pages of sheet music at home. I can't count the times I've spent money on music for a song I already had, but couldn't find because it's buried in a compilation collection I didn't think to look in, or more literally buried in a stack of books/paper I didn't explore thoroughly enough.

Or, maybe I have a lot of arrangements of "Luck Be A Lady" and want to decide which is best for a particular gig. At the moment, I generally go with what I can find first. How great would it be if I could just type "luck be a lady" and get all the versions I've got in my collection to show up.

Or, search "broadway belt" and get everything I've tagged appropriately.

But, again, to get everything in digital format is a lot of work; I'd need to take a six month sabbatical to make the transition


I'll also add that, aside from re-learning how to page turn, another way in which I'm stuck in the paper world is making notes . . . apps like forScore let you make annotations and display or hide them . . . it's super powerful. But, it adds processing overhead, and I distrust anything that makes the computer work harder at loading and displaying music. And, I can be much more precise, legible, and quick with a pencil on paper than a stylus on my iPad.
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Old 07-16-2019, 11:56 AM
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^ Scotch tape.

Alright, I'm goin'.
Scotch tape doesn't stick well enough, so I go with a stapler.
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Old 07-16-2019, 12:09 PM
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My wife and I perform as a piano/bass combo at church, and we love our iPad sheet music.

Like others, we use forScore.

She has a gigantic supersized iPad on the piano, so she can see two pages side by side, and years of super ninja skillz at flicking pages means she simply reaches up and taps the edge of the tablet to flip the page.

I use a smaller iPad that I rest on a music stand. I can't turn pages and play the bass at the same time, so I have the PageFlip Firefly. I can toe-tab forwards and backwards through my music.

It is lightweight, has little lights on it to let me know it's alive and make it easy to see in the dark. It runs on regular batteries forever, so no need to recharge it.
I used to use an AirTurn pedal, similar to this, but the build quality was pretty dodgy, it had an internal battery with the ubiquitous USB charger, and the USB port came out one day.
PageFlip has been going strong for a couple of years now, with zero complaints.

We probably have 1000 pages of sheet music on our iPads, and we keep all of our setlists in forScore, tracking what we play each week (10 songs, counting the regular ones). This is nice because I can go in and see "When was the last time we played 'How Great is Our God'?" and it will show which setlists have that song in it.

This is all above board too--most churches belong to CCLI, a Christian copyright licensing organization,
and they have a premium paid service called SongSelect where you can download all kinds of contemporary Christian sheet music in PDF format in any key you desire.

ETA:
I forgot to mention one of the best parts of forScore: I use my Apple Pencil to write my bass lines all over the music. I can write all kinds of cheat notes on the pages, just like real music, in multiple colors. And if I want, I can share my marked up music with my wife via AirDrop, though she usually erases all of my bass annotations, since that's not really useful for the pianist.

Last edited by minor7flat5; 07-16-2019 at 12:13 PM.
  #22  
Old 07-16-2019, 12:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eonwe View Post
...It's all pdfs (though image files also work), and I use the app forScore to access it all...
THIS is what I was looking for. (That must be the app Lincoln used, right? )

Quote:
I'll also add that, aside from re-learning how to page turn, another way in which I'm stuck in the paper world is making notes . . . apps like forScore let you make annotations and display or hide them . . . it's super powerful. But, it adds processing overhead, and I distrust anything that makes the computer work harder at loading and displaying music. And, I can be much more precise, legible, and quick with a pencil on paper than a stylus on my iPad.
Definitely this. I sing in two choirs, and I make myself notes ALL OVER my music. This would be a real drawback. I guess if you scan your own copy and it has pencil notations... but then you can't add to them.
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  #23  
Old 07-16-2019, 01:13 PM
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I play bluegrass/folk music, and several folk will use iPads - especially for lyrics.
(Most of our music just isn't THAT complicated.)
I've seen programs that scroll the lyrics at whatever pace you set, avoiding the need for page turning.

As to how do you get the music?
A huge amount of what we play is public domain.
I'm often hearing people asking someone else with a device to airdrop it to them, or see them taking photos of paper music.

The iPads seem useful to the extent you can readily take notes and highlight things.
But as a bass player - and someone who prefers his music as non-electric as it can be - the folk who use iPads generally seem to be piddling around with their devices a hell of a lot.
(Yeah - I admit some people mess around with their paper sheet music, so it isn't JUST an electronic thing...)
And one of our band members uses his as a crutch - instead of learning his parts by heart.
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Old 07-16-2019, 02:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThelmaLou View Post
THIS is what I was looking for. (That must be the app Lincoln used, right? )

Definitely this. I sing in two choirs, and I make myself notes ALL OVER my music. This would be a real drawback. I guess if you scan your own copy and it has pencil notations... but then you can't add to them.
See my note above.

I use forScore for all of my bass accompaniments and I scribble all over everything, sketching out bass rhythms, drawing coda and fermata symbols, sketching tabulature next to a tricky section, and even whiting out unwanted sections of the page or artifacts of the photocopy / scan process.
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Old 07-16-2019, 08:34 PM
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I play piano and own an iPad, but the two have never met.

So, dumb question:

Suppose I just took a photo with the iPad of each page of a piece, then stored each page into an album named with the title of the song.

Is this practical?


mmm
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Old 07-16-2019, 09:10 PM
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It could, but would be clunky. You really want an app that will properly crop, adjust contrast, remove distortion, all in a manner that is appropriate for printed work, kind of like how a photocopy looks.

forScore is pretty darned cheap, and you can use its internal "scanner" tool to take pictures of music and convert them to PDF internally.

I actually use a different app to create sheet music PDFs though, an app called Scanner Pro.
It makes short work of quickly photographing the pages of a song book and converting them to properly sized and cropped PDF documents. Scanner Pro will easily store the docs in iCloud or other cloud services, and forScore can import from cloud services.

This app is excellent for creating PDFs of receipts and other documents, immediately backed up to the cloud and the physical paper pitched.
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Old 07-17-2019, 04:50 AM
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Quote:
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...forScore is pretty darned cheap, and you can use its internal "scanner" tool to take pictures of music and convert them to PDF internally.
I did not realize it did this. Game changer.


Quote:
Originally Posted by minor7flat5 View Post
...I actually use a different app to create sheet music PDFs though, an app called Scanner Pro.
This looks worthwhile too (and cheap). May get it for non-music scanning.

Thanks!


mmm
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Old 07-17-2019, 08:48 AM
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Most of what I was going to say has already been covered...but I'm not one to let that stop me.

I'm a jazz singer. I abhor having anything in front of me during an actual gig*, but one of the main reasons I bought my first iPad was so I could take it to piano bars (where there's usually just one instrumentalist) instead of carrying a big binder with all of my lead sheets. That was back when I was first starting with jazz: these days I'm more likely to go to a jam session than a piano bar, and at jam sessions you need to bring multiple copies of your lead sheets/charts because there are multiple instrumentalists. So, I'm back to paper for that.

But, like several others have mentioned, I'm a fan of the forScore app on my current iPad. I make my lead sheets myself, using a a free program called MuseScore), then I save them as PDFs and upload them to Google Docs. It's super easy to download them to my iPad/import them into forScore, where I can tag everything and build set lists. I like being able to see/search my repertoire by time feel, composer, etc. And having set lists makes it super easy to practice before a gig -- though I also use an app called iReal Pro for that (if you're at a jazz gig and see any instrumentalists looking at their phone or a tablet while playing, they're probably looking at iReal Pro).


*If I don't have both the melody and lyrics memorized, I don't know the song well enough to be performing it. Plus, looking at a piece of paper means not looking at/connecting with the audience.
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Old 07-17-2019, 10:55 AM
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(Slight tangent)
iRealPro for the win.

That’s the go-to app for jazz cats. It doesn’t do the notes but it lets you create chord charts and there are thousands of cord charts online for iRealPro.

And it has band-in-a-box accompaniment, so you can have it play a full backing band for whatever jazz instrument you play (e.g. bass in my case).
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Old 07-17-2019, 01:24 PM
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This is a very informative thread!
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Old 07-17-2019, 05:01 PM
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I use an Android tablet and keep my sheets in an app called Mobile Sheets Pro. I have thousands of pages of sheet music on it, mostly fake books. I can make notes, organize into collections and set lists, etc. Love it.

Here's a question for y'all, but first some background. I have a fake book of trad jazz tunes that a friend modified. You can go to the table of contents, tap on a song and it goes directly to that song. What is that process called and how do you do it? I have many other books I'd like to do that to.
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Old 07-18-2019, 10:28 AM
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<continued tangent>

Quote:
Originally Posted by minor7flat5 View Post
And it has band-in-a-box accompaniment, so you can have it play a full backing band for whatever jazz instrument you play (e.g. bass in my case).
You can also tell it which backing instruments to play, which is the best thing about iReal Pro for me. Singing over a full band is great for general practicing, but lately I've been working on improving my time/swing feel: being able to sing over just a bass line -- or, sometimes, just drums -- is huge (yuge!).

</continued tangent>
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Old 07-24-2019, 07:13 PM
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Update on the forScore front...

I have had my eye on the new iPad Pro 11 inch model with the Apple Pencil 2 for some time now.
The other day I finally gritted my teeth and traded my old iPad Pro in on this new setup.

There are some things I am displeased with, such as no more headphone jack, yet another design for the charger jack (USB-C, making my Lightning charger useless), and the insane price. But all of that is counterbalanced by the super smooth functionality of the display and the Apple Pencil 2.

They have fixed a few annoyances of the original Pencil: there was no place to put it, it looked stupid when being charged by having its connector stuffed up the tailpipe of the iPad, and there was no way to erase.

The new Pencil attaches firmly to the side of the iPad with strong magnets. It charges wirelessly from the iPad while clinging to the side like a koala bear.

Finally, the pencil detects a gentle double-tap with your forefinger anywhere near the tip. When you do this, forScore (and other drawing/writing apps) swaps between ink and eraser, and then back when you tap-tap again.
This makes a huge difference in ease of use. I can write my bassline or other cheat notes all over my sheet music, quickly erasing and rewriting.

The price is still way too high.
  #34  
Old 07-24-2019, 08:54 PM
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Thanks to this thread I wasn't taken aback last week when "A Far Cry", a chamber group based in Boston, performed a concert with all the musicians using iPads rather than scores. Most of them had some kind of foot pedals, as you can see in the linked video:

https://youtu.be/5OvNyaRD0fQ?t=1236
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Old 07-24-2019, 09:55 PM
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Thanks to this thread I wasn't taken aback last week when "A Far Cry", a chamber group based in Boston, performed a concert with all the musicians using iPads rather than scores. Most of them had some kind of foot pedals, as you can see in the linked video:

https://youtu.be/5OvNyaRD0fQ?t=1236
What beautiful music!
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