Welcome to episode…what is this, fourth? Yeah, welcome to the fourth episode of Digitizing Sheet Music. So you got your iPad/Generic Tablet music stand mount for Holding up your tablet (Not required if you are a pianist. We’re so lucky), and you got your bluetooth pedal page turner, for turning pages without taking your hands off the action (Which is required if you are a pianist, if you want maximum performance).
Now all you need is a way to put your sheet music onto that device. This list will show you the best way to do that without spending a dime. Unless you don’t have a device. I never mentioned that as a requirement. That’s at least 653 dimes.
GooglePlay Rating: 3.7⭐
My Rating: 5+⭐
This app is really intuative and fabsolutely loaded with features. Importing files is easy, and it supports all kinds of qualifying labels for when you want to perform very specific searches through lots of songs, like year, collection, key signature, and even custom groups, as well as standard specs, like artist, composer, album and genre. You can import PDFs as well as individual images.
This app also includes native support for bluetooth pedals, so it’s guaranteed to work with your AirTurn or PageFlip. One of the coolest features of this app is that it has on-the-fly annotation and free-form drawing on the pages, as well as notation stamps to add notes in perfectly.
You can adjust the size, opacity, and if you touch and hold an edit, you can copy, paste, and delete with ease.
It has a built in metronome, which you can set the tempo of by tapping with your finger, or using a slide bar. There are multiple sounds that you can set it to, as well as beat subdivision, playback mode audio/visual/both, and volume independent of the rest of the app.
I’m only scratching the surface on the number of tools and features in this app. Bookmarks, night mode, batch importing, adding audio to sheets, and custom smart buttons are only a few of the ones I won’t get into. I was very pleasantly surprised at how much was contained in this one app, and for free. I can’t even imagine what they could possibly add to the pro version, but I have heard that it is a reworking that improves user interface, and that most people thought it was worth it. That’s something for another time, as this review is for freebies.
However, it’s worth noting that if you have a windows 10 tablet like me, You can also get MobileSheets for that device too.
App Store Rating: 4.5⭐
My Rating: 3.5⭐
I’ll be perfectly honest, I’m not an Apple user, and never will be. I had to borrow someone’s iPad for this. I hope you iOS people out there are grateful that I go through so much for you.
I didn’t see anywhere where it specifically said that it was compatible with bluetooth pedals, but I see no reason why it would not be. Most apps are compatible whether they know it or not. If you are able to test this for me, please leave a comment below with the results. Going into it, There were a few things I noticed immediately, one being that it has a lot of features similar to MobileSheets, and the other was the broken English. It’s not unmanageable, just slightly confusing at times.
It has a built-in “Free Classical Music” downloader. This handy tool gives you access to over 7,000 works from thousands of classical composers. It’s very nice if all you ever need is classical pieces, but what if I want to load more modern works?
Being apple (ლ(ಠ益ಠლ), you don’t have the liberty of simply downloading PDFs and specifying a path with a file browser. You need to download each file from a cloud. Maybe this is fine if your stuff is already cloud-based, but it made it so that instead of simply downloading the file from the source, I had to use my PC, download the file, upload to cloud, get back on the device and download again. This is inconvenient for me. It’s an inefficient use of time and internet resources.
As for features, It’s alright. It has a metronome, which is mediocre (but still there, which is nice), Bookmarks, and like the last one, Annotating. This, to me, is important. A lot of music involves making adjustments, and paper always gave you the liberty of editing immediately. In order to make the full transition, we need our technology to match and exceed our previous abilities. It has free-form drawing, A highlighter, and even a type-correction brush which can erase notes.
It has stamps, which can be made different colors, and even has adjustable shapes like staff, crescendo, and other weird lines I would never use. Adding text is rather frustrating because I keep adding more text boxes every time I try to touch the screen to move the page.
Another issue I had was that multiple buttons bring up a feature, then a dialogue box pops up saying you can’t use it because you need to buy the pro version. Being free, you can only expect so much from the apple end of things. It did it’s job well enough, and I’m trying to be fair, since some of my qualms may have come from unfamiliarity with the way iPads work. If you find it manageable, leave a comment, and I’ll update this post.
Relieving Your Papers
Now, it’s important to be gentle understanding when it comes to letting your sheet music papers, books, and binders go. They’ve had this job for around 2,500 years, so it’s not easy being replaced. Explain that these revolutions in technology are part of the cycle, and business has to move with it. They will just need to come to terms with it. It’s not easy for them, and finding and adapting to their new lifestyle will take some time, so just keep that in mind.
Then realize that you are talking to paper and you need some friends.