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Entries in Venice (1)

Wednesday
Oct312012

Using an iPad as a music stand

After belonging to a number of ukulele groups, and accumulating a number of music books, I decided to simplify my sheet music management with an iPad. I was tired of carrying reams of paper that weighed more than my ukulele, and I was tired of sorting out what songs to bring to different occasions.

I am quite the shopper, so I researched my options. An early consideration was my laptop computer, but it was too heavy (being an old 17" MacBook Pro), and there was no secure way to hold it up. I couldn't trust a traditional fold-up music stand to hold a laptop securely, and it would be way too top-heavy to stay steady under foot traffic walking by at break time. Page turning would be a problem.

Another consideration was a Kindle, but I felt the screen was too small for my needs, and didn't offer enough contrast.

The iPad 3 was about to come out, so I waited patiently for it. It would have the Retina display, good for details on scanned tabs, and had a large bright screen. By that time, there were some good options for holding it as a music stand. I chose "The Gig Easy" which I am very happy with. It is paired with a short (Concertino) microphone stand , and a foot pedal switch. "The Gig Easy" is the holder for the iPad, and it is lightweight and well built. It feels sturdy and secure, and rotates smoothly. It is made in the USA and is well worth the price. Make sure you get the right one for your iPad, because there is a difference in design between the one for iPad 1 and the iPad with cameras. To finish off the system, I bought the OnSong app. There is "TheGigEasy" app, but I haven't tried it. It offers a nice mark-up feature, that would be convenient.

If you already have a mic stand, and like to stand while playing, you just need the iPad holder. The foot pedal is optional, depending on your needs. "The Gig Easy" also is offered with a tripod mount, so that can also reduce your costs if you already own a nice one.

After using the system for several months, these are my pros and cons about the system.

Pros

•Lightweight solution for carrying all your music, along with everything else the iPad can do (shoot video, take photos, internet access, email, Garage Band etc).

•Works great in low light.

•Wind will not blow pages away if outdoors.

•Songs written in the OnSong format can be transposed to different keys at will.

•OnSong responds well to the WiFi foot petal, which can scroll the page, or turn to the next page. Audio files can be played while the music scrolls. There are lots of good controls to customize and a lot of features I won't cover here.

•Easy to organize your songs into different sets.

•Download song sheets from the internet.

Cons

•Not necessarily as fast to set-up and tear down as paper and music stand.

•Takes a bit of time to get used to using the foot pedal properly.

•Might be difficult to see in bright sunlight.

•Expensive.

•Many music Kindle ebooks are not formatted for iPad, so unfortunately, you may need to scan songs you have in your books.

Since I bought my iPad, there have been several new tablets that have come to market. However, the iPad's screen size still is a stand out, and it's squarer screen ratio is better than a longer rectangular ratio for viewing sheet music.

If you only have one notebook of songs, and a couple of thin books, stick to using paper. If you have many binders of songs, and piles of books, you will appreciate the iPad option.

So yes, I would do it again… actually I was "sharing" the iPad with my husband, who needs to use it for his music too. It has been so successful, that it's time to get another one so he can have one to himself. I have definitely been hogging it, so he will get the newest iPad4.

–Lori Apthorp, Westside Ukulele Ensemble