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Using an iPad for conducting

I was wondering what the best way to add sheet music to an iPad, and the best software to use to read the sheet music and octavos on my iPad so that I can add my own notes and circle problem spots?
Thanks a lot.
Replies (20): Threaded | Chronological
on June 27, 2013 12:17pm
I have use ForScore on the iPad quite successfully. You just need a way to get your music into PDF format (our campus copy machine can scan to PDF and send to my email). My only suggestion is that you mark up the score as much as possible BEFORE you scan it. The marking system is a little bit clunky in my option (more to do with the way the iPad touch screen works than the app).
on November 27, 2014 3:31pm
ForScore seems to keep getting better and better with each version.
If you don't want to worry about dropping your iPad from a stand as you're using ForScore to direct, or sing (or play!), there is a Tablet Stand which folds flat and has a locking clamp for your iPad, Galaxy Tab, etc.
Yes you'd more likely want it in portrait orientation than as it's shown in the pic below, and it does rotate, and have an available shoulder bag.
We hear that not just conductors, but pastors and anyone wanting to use their arms to give a more effective presentation, like this.
on June 27, 2013 2:25pm
I too use ForScore and really am pleased with it. I scan from my church copier as a PDF and send directly to my iPad. In order to keep my marking neat I bought a Jot Stylus, which has an ultra fine tip. It's been great having all the music for my choirs and voice students all in one place.
on June 27, 2013 6:40pm
I just conducted my first concert from my iPad. I also used ForScore and imported my music either by using my scanner or, for arrangements I had done myself, printing to a PDF file from Finale.
on June 28, 2013 3:27am
Interesting notion.   As a composer and publisher, my first question, and unfortunately I'm afraid I already know the answer: Do you have permission to copy the music?  
William Copper
on June 28, 2013 7:20am
Hmm. I have original, purchased octavos for each piece that I keep in a traditional binder (just in case of technical failure!), as do all of my choristers and the accompanist. My perception was that I'm not copying the music, in the traditional sense of copying, i.e., making a physical copy of the piece to avoid purchasing another copy. It hadn't occured to me that a publisher would have an issue with my creating a digital version for my personal ease of use as long as I had purchased all necessary legal copies and was not distributing the digital version to anyone else. I do make an effort to keep our entire chorus on the right side of copyright law and wouldn't have imagined this as an issue. I suppose if I knew that particular composers/publishers had a problem with this, I'd refrain.
Have publishers in general expressed a position on this? Anyone? It's becoming more and more popular...
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 28, 2013 8:18am
I always assumed it was legal to make a single electronic copy for yourself of a single piece of music that you own. Just using it electronically rather than in the paper form. Am I wrong?
on June 28, 2013 8:51am
I think it's safe to say the legal aspect of this specific use has not been tested in court, nor do any laws address it specificially. There is some precedent in terms of copying single pages for convenience of page turns for pianists, but whether that would apply in this case is uncertain. A more relevant precedent is the Betamax decision, allowing users to copy from one format to another (for example, making a cassette to use in the car) for personal, noncommercial use. In that case, the court held that any owner who wished to challenge the noncommercial use of his work would have to prove that the use is harmful or could affect the potential market adversely. Otherwise, it was fair use.
From a practical standpoint, publishers have bigger fish to fry than suing their own customers for such technicalities, and from an ethical standpoint, I'd go with the "is it avoiding purchase?" standard, which I'd say you've met in this case.
Applauded by an audience of 3
on June 28, 2013 7:34am
It is ok to put aside the directors copy that I purchased and scan it into the ipad, not use both copies at the same time, and not sell the original, also I have purchased some digital music from jw pepper so I know that is ok, and I have a lot of public domain music from IMLSP so that is fine too.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 29, 2013 6:01am
I have spent the past year using my iPad exclusively for both rehearsal and performances and it has changed my life.  
I use ForScore as the app to read the music, but when I paired them with the AirTurn foot pedal when at the piano, and the Jot stylus I am able to run rehearsals with a fluidity and ease that was just a dream a year ago.  My previous habit of using only pencil to mark my music so changes can be erased has been replaced with the option to write in the score in a multitued of colors, as will as a choice of thickness and darkness.  The ability to type directly on the score in a varity of fonts, colors and sizes was an unexpected benefit.  Having limitless highlight choices is extremely handy as well.
The option I was surprised to find but which I have come to use often is the "White Out" feature.  When combined with ForScore's rearrange feature, it is possible to see all of the music that is to be performed start to finish in one continuous path without the need to jump and skip over or back to sections. I was stunned when I realized how much brainpower I use in just keeping on track, especially when leading a piece filled with repeats, del Signe and Coda sections.  I can now hear so much more of my chorus' singing when my music is a "stretched out" before me.
Little things like the built in pitch pipe, piano keyboard and the metronome are so very handy.  Just last night, I had the lead of our production come to me asking for help during a break, and I was able to show her the part in question, pull up the piano keyboard and help put her mind at ease all while the cast was making noise as if they were at a cocktail party.  There was so need to climb into the orchestra pit to get to the piano.
There is a learning curve to feel comfortable using the iPad, but very quickly I came to realize that I would never go back to a backpack filled with paper scores, and pitchpipes, and metronomes, and colored pencils, and highlighters, and white out again.
Applauded by an audience of 3
on June 29, 2013 8:27am
Wow!  This is so interesting.  The learning curve concerns me--any program or app you learn electronically takes time to learn and practice to retain.  Ken speaks of being able to see the entire score, but you still have to turn pages and an ipad screen is smaller than a printed score.  I am a mac user, but have not gone the ipad route as yet.  Could someone comment on the page turning and screen size issue?  Also, in that ForScore app, I assume there must be a way to save a set of music in different files, so you can have repertoire for one group separate from that of another?  With a bit more info, I might give it a try!
Thanks for further comments on this!
Eloise Porter
on June 30, 2013 4:53am
To answer Eloise, you can turn pages on the ipad in ForScore just by tapping your finger on the screen.  However, sometimes that can be difficult if you're playing at the same time so I purchased a Cicada Page-Turner which turns the page via a Bluetooth foot pedal.  It's pretty cool and easy to use.  There's another pedal out there but after reviewing both I decided the Cicada was 1) easier to use, 2) no wires hanging all over the place and (3 much lighter to carry.  You can go this route or simply turn the pages with a simple tap.
Deena Jaworski
on June 30, 2013 7:56am
As a conductor in the second half of my career, I would say that for me the music in FourScore on an iPad screen is a little small. I use FourScore for music study and other things, but have not had the courage to test out my eyesight in a concert yet!
on June 29, 2013 9:08am
It is indeed an interesting subject!   In response I have just changed the text of my "don't duplicate it" perusal copies to say "don't duplicate it and don't use it in performance" ... just to be clearer.    And I do understand that most colleagues, even those in straitened financial situations, don't generally pirate music for performance.  Sometimes, however,  even the richest of our ensembles forget how hard it is to make a living as a composer....
on July 2, 2013 6:32am
I have been pondering the apparent distrust of the use of the tablet by some, and its seeming purpose to cheat composers out of their livelihood.  I, for one, am anxious for more composers to recognize this is a tool we will continue to use and provide ways for us to simply put the music on our tablets.  Michael McGlynn has devised a simple yet effective way to get his music in our hands while maintaining control over the number of legal copies distributed.  I am truly unwilling to check out any unfamiliar composers who resist this way of doing things when there are so many excellent composers who are embracing the multitudes who have made the switch.
on June 30, 2013 10:14pm
The IPad does have the backlight that aids in visibility.  When I use mine with a projector, I turn it sideways so it is much larger.  With the air-turn pedal, page turning is very reliable.  This is a consideration because with the machine sideways, one has to turn twice as many pages.  I can often go without my reading glasses if using this system.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on July 2, 2013 8:34am
I have been using forScore on the iPad with my harp playing for more than a year now. It was so wonderful to use that I decided to make some video tutorials to help others see the potential of this app. You can find them here: forScore Video Tutorials.  The first 5 videos use the 4.0 version but then I have a tutorial on what's new in the 5.0 version.  (I plan on up-dating the tutorials to the 5.0 version but I'm in the middle of moving from Colorado to Oregon.)  
The backlighting of the iPad can be very helpful when you use it in various indoor lighting situations. However, if you ever need to conduct in an outdoor setting be aware that even if you have the backlighting to its highest setting, you will not be able to see the music on the page unless you are in a shaded area.  The anti-glare films you can apply to the iPad make it even worse because they give a grainy appearance to the screen making it difficult to read the notes. 
Downloading PDFs to forScore can be done through iTunes but I find the built-in Dropbox menu to be the easiest. There is a built-in camera in forScore to take a quick photo of a score but you would have to take it in a well lit area. Otherwise, the page can be very grayed and difficult to read the notes.  As a composer myself, I have been selling my music through digital downloads almost exclusively because of the many advantages with customer cost, time, and of course tree savings. I really believe it will become the norm some day.  
The annotations feature with its different colors of pens and highlighters, white-out, and pre-made stamps is very handy and forScore is always improving it. BTW, there is a set of pre-made stamps of IPAs available for download.  (I talk about that in my video tutorial number 5.)  I have never used the annotation feature during a rehearsal with others but I have a feeling I would need some practice to be able to mark the score as quickly in forScore as I would by hand on paper.  However, I can easily remove any of those annotations in one stroke in forScore and even create different annotated versions of the same music if I'm playing it with different ensembles.
For conducting, I think it would be worth trying especially if you are tech savvy. I've had viewers of my forScore tutorials tell me how they have used forScore exclusively for coaching their chamber ensembles and it saved their arms from carrying all those scores around. (I love the Ken Ahlberg's story of helping a performer with a part at a break without having to climb into the orchestra pit to access a piano.)
Applauded by an audience of 2
on July 2, 2013 12:02pm
Janet, your videos are excellent -- very clear, well produced and organized, and making the whole process seem doable. I really learned a lot about how forScore works, and I'm actually going to try it out on my own iPad. Thanks so much for posting this information!
Melinda Bargreen
on July 2, 2013 10:47am
Call me old fashioned, but I have found that a baton works so much better than an iPad for conducting.  Just sayin'.
Applauded by an audience of 4
on February 27, 2014 8:41pm
I have a 32 GB Ipad.  I do not have many videos on it.  ForScore says that I have 518 scores in the program at the moment.  Some of these 518 are entire books that I have scanned into the program.  My Ipad usage says I have used 868 MB involved in the application.  That is very insignificant in the total picture.
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