Here, President of Wessex Tubas - Jonathan Hodgetts - discusses the subject of using an iPad to play music:
"You have probably seen me at the back of the orchestra using my iPad to play the music and wondered why?
I have been using an iPad for all my music playing with all ensembles since about 2013. Initially, I got it because I am rather into technology and liked the idea - but soon found a number of advantages;
- No heavy music folder to carry.
- I have all my music always available to practice (even when I am travelling on business, or on holiday).
- I never loose music and can much more quickly find a piece. Before in band I was often the last to find a piece - while now I am usually first with it up on my stand.
- I don’t have to worry with pegging music when playing outside to stop blowing away on the wind. The iPad will even magnetically stick to a metal music stand, so will not fall off.
- I can easily read my music illuminated on screen when sitting at the back of dark stage (that has come in useful many occasions), or if power cut (that has happened too), or if light is failing outside.
- I can annotate my music as I wish, not restricted to pencil markings. I can for example highlight key changes, repeats, dynamics and other markings. I can highlight a passage that needs practice to remind me later and then delete that marking when I have got that passage up to speed. The marking possibilities are limitless and can be made using the Apple Pencil writing direct on the screen, or with the software template of markings. And any markings can be erased in seconds if no longer applicable.
- I can easily turn pages by just a touch of the screen, much quicker than turning paper music - or can bluetooth attach a foot turner if I want to page turn hands free.
- I can arrange music into set lists for concerts all in order.
- I can bookmark to a particular page if say we are just playing one movement of a work.
- Faint original copies can be digitally enhanced to be easier to read during scanning.
- I can have two pages up on screen at once.
- I can embed sound file to music manuscript to ‘play along’ while practicing.
- I have tuner and metronome in front of me whenever required.
- I can do some work, or browse the web if not playing in movement at rehearsal.
- It is just more fun than using paper music!
I hate it now when I am forced to play off paper as when have just been given the music out without time to scan before playing.
Which brings me onto the technical aspects.
People often ask how the music gets onto my iPad. Well, sometime I will get sent a PDF or download online (a lot of classical music can be downloaded online), but more often I will scan with my iPad using the devices’ built in camera and using a dedicated scanning app.
There are various apps available, but mine of choice are ‘Scanner Pro’ for scanning the music and ‘forScore’ for storing, annotating, indexing and playing the music (‘forScore’ has recently also had scanning added).
These are not expensive, less than a fiver, so anyone with an iPad can easily get started using for playing music.
Another question I often get is will the battery run out? Well an iPad battery will last 6-10 hours use depending on conditions (less if in bright sun, than in dark hall), so for usual rehearsal, or gig that is more than sufficient. If I am playing at an all day workshop I will take along charging cable and plug in during lunch/refreshment breaks. That is quite sufficient.
Has the device ever let me down? Once in 7 years the iPad overheated in hot sun and cut out - but was up and running again in 5 minutes. Since then I have taken precaution of moving out of sun, or covering between pieces if in really intense hot sun outside.
Can I easily read out in the sun? That was difficult with my first iPad Air, but the latest iPad Pro with much brighter screen is easily viewable even in the sunniest conditions.
What if the iPad was lost or stolen? Well all my music is regularly backed up to the cloud, so if that ever happened I could soon get back on a new device including all my annotations, set lists, etc.
Initially when I started using iPad back in 2013, the largest iPad only had a 9.7 inch screen which was a bit of a downside, as it meant the music on screen was smaller than on paper and sometime difficult to read.
But in November 2015 the iPad Pro came out with a 12.9 inch screen, basically about the same size as an A4 or Letter size sheet of paper - so with the convenient crop facility in forScore (getting rid of any white border) the music is usually now as large (or larger) to read on-screen than it is on paper - and with the excellent camera and magic of software enhancement, often easier to read than on paper. Great for me, as my eyes are not as good as when I was younger.
In the last 7 years I have accumulated a library of about 1,800 works on my iPad Pro which is quite incredible - would be boxes of paper.
I even share parts with tuba playing friends around the world. It is a personal choice, but if you want to try using an iPad for your music playing, this is a good time to scan your paper library, get familiar with how it works and get the system all up and running. I think once you try, you also would not want to go back."
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