A Collection of Thoughts On a Musical Life
I did a lot of research before making the leap to using digital scores. While I found a lot of useful online recommendations for instrumentalists, I had to harass fellow singers in person to get their take. It’s always nice to talk out your own situation with someone you know, but I want to add my thoughts to those online, for any singers thinking about going digital.
Going digital is far from required, and I would certainly only recommend it if you are going to use the iPad in other facets of your life. For me, the timing had as much to do with my 2009 MacBook’s senility as the desire for a lightweight music library. The iPad Pro is expensive and was only worthwhile to me as a laptop replacement, music library, and e-reader.
As a Laptop
You will find plenty of reviews online discussing whether the 2018 iPad Pro is really a laptop replacement. For me, it is. I bought the new keyboard to go with it, and I find it to be rather comfortable. Since I tend to arrive at gigs early, the other day, the keyboard allowed me to type up some emails before a funeral. Then before the service, I detached the iPad, and pulled up Panis angelicus.
The biggest difference between the digital needs of an instrumentalist and the needs of a singer is that singers generally do not use a stand. Most of the instrumentalists writing about the iPad recommend the larger size. It makes sense— easier to see, and it goes on a stand anyway. The calculations are different for a singer, and I think they may be different for individual singers. For me, the 11 inch made the most sense. The score is about the same size it would be printed out, and I can hold the iPad easily in one hand. Since getting this iPad in November, I have used it for many church services and one concert. My arm was much less fatigued and encombered during the concert than it otherwise is when holding paper.
People with larger hands may find the larger iPad to be perfectly fine, especially if their eyes prefer the bigger screen. I would play with one at the store before deciding which size is right for you.
For musicians, the pencil is a must. I love how easily it attaches to the iPad, and I find that it stays put in my bag, even as the bag is thrown around in different orientations. Annotating scores is a breeze in ForScore.
Organizing Digital and Paper Copies
Singers, more than other musicians, need paper copies of almost everything for their collaborative pianists/organists. While I have most of the originals in books, I find it easier to have an accompanist notebook for the different kinds of music I sing. I’ve always had this notebook for my arias, but now that I have organized one for my church service music, I find myself making fewer copies of things I have already copied. The result is a much more organized music shelf, even though paper is still necessary.
I bought both Apple’s keyboard cover and the smartcover. The smartcover is lighter than the keyboard and less awkward to hold when singing, so when I know I will only be using the iPad as a music or book reader, I will throw the smartcover on it, and slip it in my bag. I chose the darkest color iPad, so that when I sing in a serious concert, I can do so with no cover, but I like the light pink cover for everyday use.
I love having my music library at my fingertips, especially for things like funeral services, where you don’t always know what music you need before you show up. I can pull out music to practice without having to plan ahead, and the same device also holds books to read, and serves as a laptop. The advantages are numerous.
I’m sure I will have more to say as I use the iPad more, but I wanted to offer this starting point for anyone else thinking about going digital.
Recommendation from a trumpet player that I considered when making my decisions: https://elisakoehler.com/2017/09/16/sheet-music-on-the-ipad-pro-12-9/
The only app you will want for reading music: https://forscore.co/