Saturday, June 11, 2011

An iPad with ForScore at the Pops


The digital sheet music is catching on!  At rehearsal this past Tuesday, one of the bass players unpacked an iPad and a wireless page turn pedal.  I think it’s a PageFlip, but I didn’t look closely enough to see for sure.  I wasn’t expecting so much excitement, so I only had my phone camera to take pictures.  I watched him turn a few pages, and didn’t notice any lag coming from the fact that it’s running over bluetooth rather than wired. I’ve just fought with so many bluetooth pairing issues with other devices that I’m not sure I’m ready to trust it, but I feel bad about the wire that hangs down from my set up now.


He was using ForScore for the music, which was neat to see, as I use UnrealBook on the iPad.  Annotation in ForScore is quite impressive.  You can draw by hand (or capacitive pen, like you see on the stand), or insert stamps from a variety of pre-set symbols.  He had done the fingerings and accidental reminders all from stamps rather than handwriting them in. 


It still seems more cumbersome and less natural than just writing things in during rehearsal, but all of the stamped stuff was inserted during his practice time at home and was all ready to go by rehearsal.  While my preference would still be an active digitizer for really accurate handwritten annotation, I can see how the stamps are a great solution for a device that doesn’t have an active digitizer available.  They come out clear and easy to read and live in a dedicated space above the staff. 


The violist who shared a stand with me while I tested the LE1600 (12” 4:3 screen) was also checking out the set up and she commented on how small it was.  He jokingly said “it’s only a bass part” and then pointed out that with the brightness up high enough, the display was clear enough to be readable. 

This reminds me that I need to prepare for the concert tomorrow.  I read off paper *gasp* for the first time in a while at the dress rehearsal, as I didn’t get time to prepare the digital score ahead of time.  I have the PDF, and I did send it to a Journal note, but there were too many extra blank pages, and I just didn’t have the time to clean it up before leaving for the rehearsal. (Yes this means I only skimmed the music ahead of time as a PDF and didn’t really practice it before the rehearsal.  This set is mostly pieces we’ve played before.  There were only a few new pieces and they were quite sight-readable.)  I managed to make all my page turns, but it wasn’t nearly as nice as tapping a footpedal.  Also, my spot on the stage is dim and I’d rather work with light-up music than deal with a stand light. 


  1. I had not heard about the PageFlip, and will probably buy one soon.

    As for ForScore, it's the other PDF music reader that I would recommend with UnrealBook (usually I recommend both together at the total cost of $10). Both have some unique features, and for the classroom, UnrealBook has more specific features. But I keep both apps on my device.

  2. The newest version of the AirTurn BT-105 Bluetooth page turner is now available as an all-in-one with our new ATFS-2 silent pedals, designed to be the quietest on the consumer market, and a new pedal board to hold everything together.

    In addition to being the quietest hands-free page turner for the iPad on the market, the AirTurn BT-105 also features the ability to toggle the iPad's Virtual Keyboard for simultaneous text entry (the AirTurn BT-105 is the only page turning device that has this capability).

    It also features auto-pairing without the need to enter any passkey codes. The AirTurn BT-105 has an internal rechargeable battery that is rated for 100 hours of continuous usage per charge.

    For more details on the new AirTurn, please visit

  3., one of the largest online sources of instantly downloadable pop, rock, jazz, gospel and classical digital sheet music, now supports the AirTurn BT-105 Bluetooth page turner with their new iPad app, and features a neat Conductor mode which enables a single iPad to control multiple iPads by opening scores, turning pages, and sending ink and text annotations to multiple iPads via Bluetooth or WiFi.

  4. Now if they only made a bigger iPad with an active digitizer. It may have worked for the bassist, but the 12" SXGA+ lenovo x61t is so much more comfortable to me, and the active digitizer is so nice to work with. Annotation on any of the iPad apps is still clunky in comparison.

  5. Good points. I still have my Lenovo X200 tablet pc and love it, and at times i really miss my Wacom digitizer pen on my iPad. One neat way to make your finger-drawn annotations less "clunky" is to use the zoom feature that a lot of apps have. You might be surprised at how cleanly your markings look after zooming in to draw them. I just finished playing a recital tour with a flutist using an AirTurn and an iPad, and she found that reading the music in landscape was much easier, since the music gets zoomed in half a page at a time, so you might want to give that some thought.

  6. Something like that might work better for solo or chamber work, but I can't see it in the pace of an orchestra rehearsal - pick up the stylus, pinch to zoom in on the music you want to mark, tap the pen tool, write, tap the pen tool off, zoom out, put the pen down, get ready to play again. With the Lenovo, I pick up the pen, write, set the pen down, play - no more steps than my paper-based colleagues.

    I didn't have the footpedal until more recently, and I can see how that would enable reading landscape as page turns basically become a non-issue with a footpedal. But I just can't get into marking up the music on an iPad.

    I guess if it were a smaller group where everyone were reading off an iPad, the flow of taking time to mark stuff would feel more normal.

  7. The MusicReader iPad app actually is pretty responsive when it comes to making quick annotations, especially when used together with the AirTurn. You can set the pen to be active while turning pages - you can just write as you go without the need to tap the pen icon to activate it (unless you want to change colors, tools, etc.)