Is The iPad for Musicians?

The iPad for musicians?  Is that seriously a question anymore? Though it seems like a foregone conclusion to those of us that use them in musical performance, the iPad is not the obvious choice, nor perhaps the right choice for every musician.  Why? There are many reasons, but here are just a few to consider.

NextPage - perfect for iPads for Musicians

Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD)

For those of us who suffered through the Microsoft Windows era of the late ’90’s and have scarred memories from the dreaded Blue Screen of Death, any deep-seated fears of trusting a computing device with our musical performance are neither weird or unjustified. Few people had the blind faith and fortitude to trust a Windows PC on stage.  The chances for catastrophe were just too high, and it was hardly worth it based on the small screen sizes and the limited ways available to turn pages. The thought of an automatic page turner was just a dream for pianists and keyboard players.

A good sheet music app is (or should be) designed first and foremost not to crash during performance. Bugs in other areas of the app, perhaps in the markup tools, might be tolerable, but not the meat-and-potatoes function of turning pages and navigating between songs! But regardless of how good an app might be, a person suffering from PC-era FUD may be unwilling to even try it out. Making the transition from paper to an iPad sheet music app requires some adjustment, and a successful transition happens best when one has a positive attitude going into the process. Loading the music is different, the timing and visual appearance of page turning is different, and marking up music must is different (using a pencil or pen on your iPad is probably a bad idea).  In short, this means change – a lot of change. Those who dread or are fearful of change, or who just can’t bring themselves to trust an electronic device with their live performance just aren’t ready for an iPad, at least not without a lot of moral support!

Tech Savvy

Similar to FUD, tech savvy, or lack thereof can sometimes be a hindrance.  Using an iPad for sheet music usually involves getting your music into PDF format, either buying it that way or scanning it, and then loading it into the iPad using iTunes or Dropbox. For a certain segment of musicians, this is simply beyond their technical grasp or aspirations, and the thought of having to learn it leads to stress and brings a negative attitude to the transition process from paper to electrons.

Conversion From Paper

Most sheet music apps work with PDF files, and many online music retailers will deliver sheet music, or even whole music books in PDF format. That works well for new music, but it’s doesn’t address that pile of 4” 3-ring binders holding all of your existing music. The only answer for that is to scan it, which can either be a breeze or a chore, depending on what kind of scanner and software you use, and either way it requires time. For musicians unwilling or unable to tackle this task or invest the time, a sheet music app is going to seem like a hassle. Tip: Find a teenager who needs to earn some extra money and have them scan all it to a Dropbox folder.

Cost

iPads are not inexpensive, and so cost is often the first hurdle a musician has to jump over. Why? Because you usually don’t buy just the iPad – you also buy a case, and maybe an extra charging cable, and possibly AppleCare to extend the warranty, and on it goes. If you plan to use the iPad on stage, you may soon find yourself shopping for a special iPad holder for your music stand and maybe an automatic page turner like the AirTurn BT-105. In short, while you need to spend at least $500 to get started, you can easily spend $700-$800 in no time at all. Tip: Find an iPad 2. It is still one of the fastest iPads around for sheet music apps and they can be found for very reasonable prices on the second-hand market. (Yes, the iPad 3 is slower! But that’s a topic for another post…)

Not Right for Everyone?

There are certainly more reasons why an iPad may not be right for every musician, but perhaps the few reasons listed above will help you begin to relate to some of your iPad-reticent brethren at your next rehearsal.  As much as you may benefit and enjoy using one in performance, and as much as you think they’ve just got to see the light, they simply not be ready or willing to take the plunge. Hopefully you’ve now got a bit of  insight as to why.

Sunday Set Lists 7/28/13 – NextPage for iPad 1.9.2

Below is our set at FBC for last Sunday. Patch settings below.

Sunday Set List 7/28/13 in NextPage

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).

  • You You Are God: Basic Dark Pad Wheel with Ubersolina Epic Richness from Omnisphere
  • God is Great:  B3 888000001
  • Your Love is Deep:Nord EP 1, model 2.
  • Strong God: Nord EP1, model 2 with Blue Carpet from ESX24
  • You Are God Alone: Nord EP 1, model 2 with Basic Dark Pad Wheel from Omnisphere
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 7/21/13 – NextPage

Below is our set at FBC for last Sunday. I’ve replaced my 2008 vintage 17″ MacBook Pro, affectionately known as “the aircraft carrier”, with a 2013 13″ Macbook Pro refurb. It worked flawlessly today after I discovered it was necessary to flag MainStage to run in 64-bit mode. But that’s a story for another day…

Be sure to check out other Sunday Set Lists from around the country this week at The Worship Community.

Patch settings below.

Sunday Set List in NextPage for 7/21/13

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).

  • Happy Day: Big Pad MW, Soft Pad 1, Solina String from EXS24
  • Your Name is Holy:  B3 888000001
  • Savior: Nord EP 1, model 2.
  • Cornerstone: Nord EP 1, model 2 with Basic Dark Pad Wheel and Strings on Air from Omnisphere
  • Strong God: Nord EP1, model 2 with Basic Dark Pad Wheel from Omnisphere
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 7/14/2013 – NextPage 1.9.2

Below is our set at FBC for last Sunday shown in the NextPage music desk.  This week featured a near-catastrophic hardware failure on my 2008 vintage 17″ MacBook Pro, affectionately known as “the aircraft carrier”, during the service.  Time for an upgrade…

Patch settings below.

Sunday Set List 7/14/13 in NextPage

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).

  • God is With Us Now: Basic Pad and Synth Strings, Smooth String, Dark Pad 02 from EXS24
  • Our God:  Another Pad, Vocal Super Pad from ESX 24, add Strings PWM on chorus
  • In Christ Alone-Solid Rock: Warm Blue Carpet from ESX24
  • Revelation Song: Purity, Format  Choir, Thunder from ESX24, DarkPad 02 from ES2  (MainStage)
  • Cornerstone: Nord EP1, model 2, with Basic Dark Velo Wheel pad underneath
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 talks to the 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 5/26/13 – NextPage 1.9.2

This week’s set was run on  NextPage version 1.9.2, which has a couple of important fixes.   If  you don’t have this version, you may want to grab the update now.

Below is the set at FBC for this week.  Patch settings below.

Also, if you haven’t seen Star Trek Into Darkness yet, don’t wait any longer.  Two thumbs UP!

Sunday Set List 5/26/13 - NextPage

My rig consists of a Nord Stage 2 and a Macbook Pro (2008 edition) running MainStage and Spectrasonics Omnisphere as an audio unit plug-in.  I use an iPad 3 running NextPage and an iKlip 2 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).

  • All Because of Jesus: Basic Pad and Synth Strings from EXS24
  • Hope of The Nations: Basic Dark Pad Wheel + Hybrid Warm String Section from Omnisphere
  • O God of Mine: Nord EP 1, model 2.
  • Your Great Name: Slow Glow + Resonant Clouds + Dark Pad 2 from ES2 (MS)
  • God of This City: Pad for intro: Gleaming Glass + Arctic Glass from Omnisphere, then Nord EP 1 model 2 for balance of song

Sunday Set List 5/19/13 – NextPage 1.9.2

This week’s set was run on  NextPage version 1.9.2, which has a couple of important fixes.   If  you don’t have this version, you may want to grab the update now.

Below is the set at FBC for this week.  Patch settings below.

Also, if you haven’t seen IronMan 3 yet, don’t wait any longer.  Thumbs UP!

Sunday Set List 5/19/13 - NextPage 1.9.2

My rig consists of a Nord Stage 2 and a Macbook Pro (2008 edition) running MainStage and Spectrasonics Omnisphere as an audio unit plug-in.  I use an iPad 3 running NextPage and an iKlip 2 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).

  • Counting On God: Basic Pad and Synth Strings from EXS24
  • Salt and Light:  B3 888000002, Chorus C3
  • Jesus Lover of My Soul: Basic Dark Wheel Pad (Omnisphere)
  • Power of Your Name:Airy Pad (Omnisphere) for a G6 chord on the intro, then  EP 1, model 2 from the Nord for the balance of the song
  • Calling Out to You: B3 86600031

NextPage 1.9.1 New Features

NextPage 1.9.1 went live in the App Store today! Most of the new features and enhancements in this release have been requested by you, our faithful customers! We hope you enjoy the changes, and please keep the great suggestions coming! Thanks also for your patience – this release required a tremendous amount of “blood, sweat, and tears” to bring your requests to reality in ways that will be truly helpful yet remain simple to use. We’re very grateful for your input, and we’re enjoying the opportunity to continually serve you better.

New in 1.9.1 – Performance Metronome

You’ve asked for a metronome, so here it is! A full-feature, precision metronome is now available from the main toolbar. The metronome has two modes of operation. The first mode gives you full access to all of the controls and settings. Be sure to tap on the time signature and tempo indicators to reveal different ways to set the tempo and rhythm patterns.

Full Controls View

The second mode is “performance” mode. To put the metronome in this mode, start it running and then tap outside of it anywhere on the music. This will transform the metronome to a small circle showing the tempo, time duration (you can have the metronome turn itself off after a number of seconds), and a visual indication of the beat. You can move the performance metronome anywhere on the page using your finger and NextPage will remember its position. The metronome will then automatically move to your preferred position in each song as you move from song to song in a set. So for live performance, if you set the metronome for a “visual-only” indication of the beat and say, a 20 second duration, all of this can work together to have the metronome briefly appear to remind you of the starting tempo of each song and then disappear until you reach the next song.

IMG 0371

The metronome is packed with features, and we’ll be creating short tutorial videos that cover the basics, as well as how any when you might want to use the performance mode. Keep checking the OST web site.

An AirTurn BT-105 4-pedal board can be used to toggle the metronome on/off, using the right-most pedal (pedal #4).

Symbol Tool

You also asked us more ways to annotate your scores, so we’ve added a Symbol Tool to the Tool Basket containing over 50 musical symbols including accidentals, articulations, dynamics, performance indicators, and more. After selecting a symbol and setting its size, you simply tap on the music and drag the symbol to where you need it.

Paging Control Improvements for Large Scores

The paging control on the bottom toolbar now becomes a slider for songs with 15 pages or more. This makes navigating a song  with hundreds of pages much easier. The slider can also be set to be used for all songs regardless of length.  See the new “Always Use Page Slider” option in the Settings menu.

IMG 0373

External Display Support

We’ve had a number of requests for the ability to mirror your iPad to an external display without all of the iPad’s interface showing – in other words, just the music score itself – so we’ve added External Display support (iOS 6 required).  By turning on the new “Use External Display” option in the Settings menu, NextPage will mirror pages to an external display attached via video adapter cable. By enabling the “Rotate External Display” option, the page will be rotated 90 degrees and resized to use as much of the screen as possible. This can be very useful when using a widescreen display rotated to portrait position.

Other Improvements and Fixes

Here are the other improvements and changes you will receive in 1.9.1.

  • Improved performance when loading set lists in the Music Desk.
  • Improved performance when reordering and deleting songs from set lists.
  • Set list cover images sharpened in the Music Desk.
  • Keyboard now remains on screen when an invalid set name is entered.
  • Fixed various issues resulting from switching away from NextPage to another app while markup tools are in use.
  • Minor tweaks to button sizes and spacings to make them easier for larger fingers to use.
  • Fixed Page Link resizing issues introduced by iOS 6.

Wrap Up

We hope you enjoy all the new changes, and please keep your suggestions coming!  OST and NextPage exist to help you perform better. Period. Rest assured that we will continue to strive to keep NextPage simple, straightforward, and easy to use.  It’s not about how many features the app has, but rather about how well it helps you perform. And if we’re accomplishing that, we’d be thrilled if you would take a moment to let us know.

Sunday Set List 4/7/13

This week’s set was run on the final release candidate of NextPage version 1.9.1, which will include a performance metronome and many user requested features.  Patch settings below.

Sunday Set List 4/7/13

My rig consists of a Nord Stage 2 and a Macbook Pro (2008 edition) running MainStage and Spectrasonics Omnisphere as an audio unit plug-in.  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).

  • God is With Us Now:Basic Pad with Synth String Ensemble from ESX24
  • Sing For Joy:  Nord Stage 2 EP 1 model 1
  • As Long As You Are Glorified: B3 888000010
  • Before the Throne of God:Basic Dark Wheel Pad (Omnisphere)
  • Great I AM: Another Pad+SuperStrings Dark from EXS24, Resonant Clouds from ES2, Slow Glow from Hybrid

Sunday Set List 3/24/13

Here was our Palm Sunday Set at FBC.  In the screenshot is a sneak preview of NextPage’s new performance metronome, which will be available in version 1.9, and now in review with Apple.  I experimented with a bit of delay on the Wurlitzer patch for Hosanna (Hill Song United Version), and it worked out pretty well. If you’d like the precise settings I used on my Nord, just contact me – I’m happy to share.  Patch settings below.

BTW….we are relaunching the web site Real Soon Now.  This may be the last Sunday Set List with the old look!

Sunday Set List 03/24/13

My rig consists of a Nord Stage 2 and a Macbook Pro (2008 edition) running MainStage and Spectrasonics Omnisphere as an audio unit plug-in.  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).

  • All The Earth: B3 888000022
  • Hosanna A072:  Nord Stage 2 EP1, dynamics model 1
  • We Fall Down: Nord Stage 2 EP1, dynamics model 1
  • Hosanna (Hill Song United):  Nord Stage 2 EP 1, dynamics model 4 with delay effect.
  • Revelation Song: Purity, Format  Choir, Thunder from ESX24, DarkPad 02 from ES2  (MainStage)

Sunday Set List 03/03/13

Our communion set at FBC on March 3rd.  Patch settings below.  I spent a ton of time looking (agonizing, actually) for a patch combo for When The Stars Burn Down.  For any keyboardist out there who’s had to dupe those sounds, I’d love to hear how you approached it.

IMG 0324 copy

My rig consists of a Nord Stage 2 and a Macbook Pro (2008 edition) running MainStage and Spectrasonics Omnisphere as an audio unit plug-in.  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).

  • For The Lord Our God Reigns: Nord Stage 2 EP 1 model 1
  • Overcome:  Basic Dark Pad Wheel + Ambient Humwhistle Pad (Both from Omnisphere)
  • You Gave Your Life Away:  B3 888000002
  • O The Blood: Basic Dark Wheel Pad (Omnisphere)
  • When The Stars Burn Down: Basic Dark Pad Wheel + Hybrid Warm Strings, VS Warm Bellkeyz on Chorus (All Omnisphere)