Using Your iPad to Position Your Music

Part of the benefit of using an iPad to display music is that it gives you flexibility when placing your music in relation to your instrument. Seeing the music easily, and being able to reach it comfortably when necessary is very important to performing well. Missing page turns, or fumbling with music between songs leads to a Bad Musical Day, and we want to do what we can to avoid those as much as possible.

My rig with iPad to left side

Orchestral instrumentalists are somewhat restricted by a relatively small physical space and are accustomed to dealing with a traditional music stand. An iPad is right at home here if the bottom ledge of the stand is wide enough, and the stand itself is not too wobbly (is it me, or do they all seem to wobble a little). In this case, the iPad allows the performer to slide her music left or right of center as desired, depending on the sight line provided by the instrument or the hand she has available to reach forward for turning pages. Adding a wireless foot pedal brings the best of all worlds to the orchestral player. No hands are needed to handle the music, and the music can be placed where it can be seen without having to move one’s head.

For instruments like an acoustic piano, the options for music placement are a bit limited regardless of paper or iPad because the construction of the instrument essentially dictates the placement. Fortunately, most pianos are designed with a music holder (I.e. the “music desk”) already built into the instrument.

Electronic keyboards, however, typically don’t have a music desk. Depending on brand and model, there may be an optional music desk-like attachment available, but my experience with these has been quite disappointing. They are usually either too narrow or too short, setting one up for all sorts of potential disasters during performance. Here is where the iPad truly shines.

If you play an instrument without a music holder, or where a traditional music stand won’t work, there is very simple, effective recipe available to you. Besides an iPad (and NextPage, of course) you will need:

  • An standard microphone stand, like this stationary stand, or if you want even more flexibility, this boom stand.
  • An iPad holder with a built-in microphone stand adapter. You may want one that has a flexible shaft (as I do), though it’s not visible in the picture above. You can also find some models that rotate, if you prefer showing the music in landscape mode. I’ve got my eye on this particular holder. I haven’t used it yet, but it’s an example you can check out as part of your search.

The microphone stand can be placed anywhere you’d like it – left or right side of the keyboard, or directly in front of you. It can also be adjusted to whatever height you need based on whether you sit or stand to play. As a keyboard player, I like to position it to my left when standing to play. While I do use a foot pedal, I often find it comfortable to simply lift my left hand off the keys, and slightly reach forward to tap or swipe for a page turn. In a very short time, this will become a natural, easy motion. In fact, it’s become so automatic for me that I’m hardly aware anymore that I’m doing it, which is exactly what we want when we’re performing. Of course this only works well when the melody can be sustained with the right hand, so the foot pedal is very necessary at times, depending on the score.

Positioning the iPad to the left as I’ve described is of course not going to be ideal for everyone. Depending on your eyesight and the lighting in the room, you may need it directly in front of you to see it well enough. If you are leading, you may want it front of you so you are facing the audience directly, rather than having your head angled sideways.  The beauty of the iPad solution is that it accommodate all of these and almost any other positioning need.

Regardless of your specific situation, displaying your music with an iPad can definitely empower you to perform better and enjoy your music more. The music notation must be made to serve us, not the other way around!

It’s About Expressing Yourself

Music allows us to express ourselves in deep and meaningful ways that can not be duplicated in any other way. Whether by voice or instrument, we can pour ourselves out, expressing deep, intense feeling and emotion. Can there be a more genuine form of worship?

No more paper. Ever!

The most gifted among us can do this without the need for music – the melody just flows from within. Others can memorize and have the freedom to play expressively without ever worrying about a page turn. And then there are those of us, like myself, who have been chained to paper music. We are forever fretting about the next page turn, or worse, dreading to turn 5 pages back to find a segno, and then 6 pages forward to chase the coda. For us, pouring ourselves into the music can often be a hit or miss affair.

Happily today, there is relief for those of us living in paper music jail. It comes in the form of an iPad, an app to display the music, and optionally, a wireless foot pedal to help turn the pages. Imagine how things change when your entire set list is presented to you page by page just by tapping, swiping the screen, or using your foot. Imagine jumping back to a segno or forward to a coda with just one tap. How might this free your mind to play expressively?

I’ve been playing piano and keyboards for just over 45 years. In all that time there has been no more important invention to my musical performance than the iPad, especially in worship. Removing the paper from the equation has freed my mind from stress and distraction, and it’s allowed me to focus on making a much more meaningful contribution to the musical experience being produced by the worship team.

Whether you choose NextPage or another similar iPad app, I encourage you to take the plunge and choose something. And give it a fair chance, meaning, try it for a least a month. Even in the most ideal situations, turning pages breaks one’s concentration and limits the depth of feeling that can be expressed. So making those page turns as momentary, as reliable, and as uneventful as possible is something you most definitely want to do.  Why? Because our goal is to communicate the music expressively, in the unique way that each of us can do, so as to impart the emotion and message of the music in a way that is meaningful to the listener.

Sunday Set List 8/17/14 – NextPage for iPad

Our set list at FBC for April 6th.  Patches and recent changes to my rig below.

Sunday Set List 8/17/14 in NextPage for iPad

 

The B3 and EP patches below are from the Nord.  The synth patches are either from Omnisphere or an audio unit supplied with MainStage (MS). I have recently added Pete’s Patches to Omnisphere.  Any patch beginning with a ‘#’ comes from Pete’s awesome library.

  • You are Holy:  B3 888000001 #Zion Multi (All three parts on separate channel strips with Pete’s full chorus reverb)
  • Christ is Able to Save: B3 855000000 with #Cathederal Pad
  • In Christ Alone – Solid Rock: Beauty and the Breath
  • Just As I AmB3 888000000 with #Cathederal Pad
My Rig

My rig consists of a Nord Stage 2 and a 13″ Macbook Pro (early 2013 refurb) running MainStage 2.2 (without Logic) and Spectrasonics Omnisphere as an audio unit plug-in. I also use Pete’s Patches for Omnisphere. The Nord is connected to MainStage over USB2. For audio output, I don’t use an external audio interface – I run the Mac audio output directly into a Behringer 16-channel sub mixer using a 1/8″ stereo to 1/4″ cable. And lest I forget, I use an iPad 3 running NextPage and an iKlip 2.

Sunday Set List 4/6/14

Our set list at FBC for April 6th.  Patches and recent changes to my rig below.

Sunday Set List 4/6/14 - NextPage for iPad

The B3 and EP patches below are from the Nord.  The synth patches are either from Omnisphere or an audio unit supplied with MainStage (MS). I have recently added Pete’s Patches to Omnisphere.  Any patch beginning with a ‘#’ comes from Pete’s awesome library.

  • All Because of Jesus:  #Zion Multi (All three parts on separate channel strips with Pete’s full chorus reverb)
  • In Christ Alone: #Winded Flutes, #Eternal Lapsteel, #Blue Solina
  • Your Presence is Heaven to Me: #Big Ole’ Oberheim
  • Christ Has Conquered All: B3 888000000
My Rig

My rig consists of a Nord Stage 2 and a 13″ Macbook Pro (early 2013 refurb) running MainStage 2.2 (without Logic) and Spectrasonics Omnisphere as an audio unit plug-in. I also use Pete’s Patches for Omnisphere. The Nord is connected to MainStage over USB2. For audio output, I don’t use an external audio interface – I run the Mac audio output directly into a Behringer 16-channel sub mixer using a 1/8″ stereo to 1/4″ cable. And lest I forget, I use an iPad 3 running NextPage and an iKlip 2.

Sunday Set List 3/2/14 – NextPage Set List

Below is our set at FBC for March 2, 2014. Patch settings below.

Sunday Set List 3/2/14 - NextPage Sheet Music Reader

The B3 and EP patches below are from the Nord.  The synth patches are either from Omnisphere or an audio unit supplied with MainStage (MS).

  • Come to The Table:  Nord EP1, model 2
  • Covenant of Grace: Nord EP1, model 2
  • Broken and Beautiful:  Basic Dark Pad Wheel, Hollywood Studio String Section, Hybrid Warm String Section
  • Jesus Messiah: B3 888000000
  • Sherlock….OK…we didn’t really do Sherlock…just checking to see if you’re paying attention!  ;)
My Rig

My rig consists of a Nord Stage 2 and a 13″ Macbook Pro (early 2013 refurb) running MainStage 2.2 (without Logic) and Spectrasonics Omnisphere as an audio unit plug-in. The Nord is connected to MainStage over USB2. For audio output, I don’t use an external audio interface – I run the Mac audio output directly into a Behringer 16-channel sub mixer using a 1/8″ stereo to 1/4″ cable. And lest I forget, I use an iPad 3 running NextPage and an iKlip 2.

Sunday Set List 10/27/13

Below is our set at FBC for today. Patch settings below.  This is the new look of the Music Desk in NextPage 2, now in review with Apple. Alas, because of iOS 7, the wood look had to go.

Set List for 10/27/13 in NextPage for iPad

The B3 and EP patches below are from the Nord.  The synth patches are either from Omnisphere or an audio unit supplied with MainStage (MS).

  • Hallelujah (Your Love is Amazing):  B3 888000001
  • You Are All I Need: Nord EP1, model 2
  • Just as I Am:  Basic Dark Pad Wheel, Hollywood Studio String Section, Hybrid Warm String Section
My Rig

My rig consists of a Nord Stage 2 and a 13″ Macbook Pro (early 2013 refurb) running MainStage 2.2 (without Logic) and Spectrasonics Omnisphere as an audio unit plug-in. The Nord is connected to MainStage over USB2. For audio output, I don’t use an external audio interface – I run the Mac audio output directly into a Behringer 16-channel sub mixer using a 1/8″ stereo to 1/4″ cable. And lest I forget, I use an iPad 3 running NextPage and an iKlip 2.