Advertise on ChoralNet 
ChoralNet logo
The mission of the ACDA is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy.

Singers: Which iPad Are You Using?

I've noticed more and more singers using iPads which contain their music scores.  I am interested in joining this paperless world.  Which iPad are you using and which software program?
Do you find this to be a practical alternative for some performances?  For shorter programs this seems like a good idea but unless someone has already scanned the music I wouldn't consider this alternative for larger works.
Replies (13): Threaded | Chronological
on January 1, 2015 8:15am
I've got an iPad 2 with 64G of memory and Forscore that I've been using for about 3 years now. They constantly update the app, so it's a great program. I haven't used it in about a year, but the last time I did, about the only downside to it was getting to the annotation tools. Seemed like I had to do a few too many steps to get to the "pencil" so I could make any marks the conductor was asking of us in the course of a rehearsal. It may have been updated to make that easier. I'm primarily an organist and the scores are a little bit smaller for organ rep than I can easily read on a music rack 14-16" away. As a singer, I can bring the iPad closer to me, so the distance isn't a factor. My church also has a beach service in the summer and I thought it would be a better alternative than having music blowing around in a binder, but the sunlight was overpowering the screen lighting capability, so I ditched that idea. 
on January 2, 2015 5:28am
I started with the iPad 4 with Forscore and it worked well. Annotation can be cumbersome, but I haven't found a way around that with any device/program I have used.
I am now using Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 and Mobile Sheets. It is a bigger screen and is helpful when I am conducting and works well when I am singing.
on January 2, 2015 6:50am
I don't worship at the altar of Apple.  I use a Samsung Note 10.1 2014 Edition running Android 4.4 (Kitkat).  For software I use Mobile Sheets and the combination is fantastic.
The Note has a built in, pen-sized stylus that works beautifully with Mobile Sheets' markup capabilities.  I'd tried 3rd-party stili on my older tablet and found the markings too thick and the performance spotty.  This one creates pencil-thin lines and the tablet reads the input much better.  The graphics are gorgeous so the music is very easy to read.
The tablet also has a huge advantage over iPads because it includes a MicroSD port allowing for expanded memory.  My tablet has 16GB built in but I got a class 10 (i.e. the fastest read/write on the market) 64GB card for less than 10 bucks on eBay so I now have 80GB of storage.
The director of my a cappella group uses the 12 inch version of the same product to manage music for the four choirs he directs and swears by it.
When you compare size, features and value, I just don't think anything currently on the market from Apple can compete.
Don Henry
on January 2, 2015 11:14am
Regarding storage, especially on older iPads with lower memory, note that ForScore allows use of:
"Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or Box accounts, and can also be used to access any number of FTP or WebDAV servers" you have a huge/virtually unlimited capacity for extra or primary storage online, without the risk of losing your data in a tablet - perhaps with that very important memory card in it - and your saved current mark-ups on each score too, as all your work will be there for you online if the card or tablet is lost. 
The scores can be replaced, but the effort put into your markings could be an enormous loss.
on January 3, 2015 4:28am
As a publisher of music, I am naturally interested in the comments being made here, and I am keen to learn more of what you find useful in the scores to download.
Currently I am offering a limited amount of choral music with licences to print / use specified numbers of copies.
Is there anything in the downloadable score that you would find especially useful? is PDF the best format? etc
Trubcher Music Publishing [UK]
on January 27, 2015 5:46am
Go with .pdf.  It's the world standard and that's what most software supports.
on January 4, 2015 8:00am
there are about 10 members of my choir using tablets (Apple and other brands). I'm not familiar with the applications, but ForScore is one of the ones used.
They all are well equipped with additional battery packs, pens, covers, stands, ..
The singers are very fast in acquiring PDFs, either through finding online or through scanning (each singer scanning 50 pages and then sharing is very efficient), and exchange through dropbox, etc
As we often do new works, PDFs are easily available.We also have an office staff who does scanning for archival purposes.
couple of observations:
  • there is a delay in annotating, especially since my rehearsals move at a very fast speed - paper and pencil is still faster ...
  • when using light design the glow of the tablet is disturbing > a solution recently tried was to invert the PDF (white becomes black, black become white). It took some time for the singers to adjust to reading white music on black, but it was very effective as we basically could perform in almost darkness/by candlelight.
  • audience members commented on non-uniformity of scores (black folder versus tablet), so all tablet users must use a black folder (shout-out to Ian)
  • once the score becomes very complex (up to 24 parts, graphic notations) the efficiency is lacking again, as singers need to zoom in and create bookmarks to find their parts. If the PDF is done correctly, the tablet can be used in landscape mode for landscape scores (unless fully attached to folder)
  • if there is enough prep-time, I have my marked-up scores scanned, thus all singers have my markings 
  • some scores require pitch-aides i.e. for singing a specific frequency or holding a long drone on a certain pitch  > an additional app and an in-ear piece can help with that (these instructions are in the score and requested by the composer)
  • > for publishers: if you provide PDFs of your scores, there should be an option to make one voice larger/bold/stand-out (this would also be good for senior singers )
I have looked into using an iPad as conductor, but what I need in efficiency and speed is not available yet (at least in the sub 1K range). And simple things like turning pages to look ahead or back or glance at two not-connected pages for comparison .... wont' likely be possible in a sufficent manner.
on January 4, 2015 10:00am
I appreciate so much all the useful information provided to my initial question.  My particular problem is aging eyes.  I'll be 69 on my next birthday.  I find that since we sing in many different venues sometimes the overhead lighting is not sufficient and the clip-on music light I find to be distracting to those around me and the audience.  Having the scores on an iPad or android tablet may solve that problem.  Were I to take this route I would use my paper scores in rehearsal for markings, etc.  Then  before performance I would scan those to .pdf file and import to my tablet.  This may not be a practical solution, but I thought I would give it a go.
on January 26, 2015 5:43pm
Thanks Michael. That's the first I've heard of reversing the image and a super idea.
Regarding tablets used with (inside) a Black Folder:

We do perform installations of iPad performance cases (exceptionally useful) riveted INTO our folders (and don't charge for this either). Yes you can pop your iPad out, it's not in there for good.  Call in or email to inquire - we're not advertising it much as it's technically difficult to incorporate into the shopping cart and with conference season coming up, doing so is on the mid-burner To-do list.
Normally we rivet it on the right hand side because most people with that inexpensive useful cover have it opening to the left.  Then everyone appears uniform, holding a folder, but you're using the equipment you want. The iPad Performance Cases are currently listed under 'Music Stands' but that may change. We have every version up to the iPad Air 1 (which will suffice for the 2 if you don't mind the pesky volume button relocations) but we're getting the Air 2-optimized performance cases in a few weeks as well.
Here's the comparison of button position changes in the Air 1 and Air 2 (upper):
on July 3, 2015 11:36am
The BrightStaves Viewer for iPad allows solution for these and many other cases. Here is article
The app is in active development - stay tuned.
Right now I'm looking for iPad equipped choir (up to 28 singers) for testing some features in real rehearsal environment.
on January 4, 2015 12:02pm
At the moment I am expirimenting with the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 because of its great 3:2 12 inch screen. The available software for Windows is not that far in development however. 'MusicReader PDF' is an option, though not very intuitive. 'Mobile Sheets' for Android is already much better and I am using it now with the Android emulator DuOS wich works fine, including annotations with the stylus, except for a small bug when awaking from sleep mode. 'Forscore' is apparently the best software available, so maybe waiting for a 12" iPad Pro due somewhere in spring 2015 would be worthwile. My brother, as a conductor with sudden eye-troubles, uses a big 22" all-in-one PC with MusicReader PDF and a pedal to turn pages on his grand piano or on a special stand. It does the job, but is not very portable of course.
on January 27, 2015 7:44am
I've had good success with iGigBook. It's designed primarily for using fake books, and has indices for many fake books, but it displays any PDF, and page turns are fast.
on January 27, 2015 11:48pm
I use an iPad 3 with the app, piaScore. I've only used it in performance a few times, but it has quite a few useful features. I'm using the free version, but it includes the ability to download scores from a dropbox folder and organise them into set lists. You can create bookmarks to move easily between pieces in your concert programme, and there are a lot of annotation tools to mark the score digitally, e.g. add stampable dynamics and tempo markings, highlight your line in the score, add text, arrows and hairpins. A metronome is included, and you can turn the page by the usual swiping, tilting your head, or waving your hand across the camera lens. You can also search for youtube videos of the piece you're performing in an embedded player.
The full upgrade includes file-sharing/-printing, a keyboard to note-bash when learning the music, a tuner, and the ability to record the rehearsal/performance. There is also the ability to take photos of hard-copy sheet music and add that music to your collection, which would be quicker than scanning scores and importing them.
Hope this helps!
  • You must log in or register to be able to reply to this message.