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.

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.


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.

When You Should Use Technology in Music

As I wrote elsewhere today, the purpose of technology is to make life better, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Certainly there has been, and continues to be enormous opportunity to use technology to make our musical lives better, both in our enjoyment of listening to music (think iPod), and perhaps more importantly, in making and performing it.

How True.  Courtesy

Technology is best used in music to:

  • generate and facilitate the creation of sound – for example, synthesizers, digital audio workstations, guitar pedals, sound processors
  • improve skills – iPhone apps for metronomes, music term dictionaries, tuners, etc
  • eliminate distraction and tension during performance – personal mixers, in-ear monitors, iPad apps to manage music, to name a few.

I recently saw a bumper sticker that said “Drum machines have no soul”, and that raises a very important distinction: technology is not the answer to everything in music. Nothing replaces the passion, intensity, and range of emotion that a human soul brings to music. Technology cannot bring the expression that makes music come alive in a way that touches, moves, and enriches its hearers. Why?  Because all the important qualities that make music inspiring and enthralling pour out of the life experiences of those performing it.  A beloved teacher of mine one said “if music is your life, then get a life”.  How true.  Technology can’t replace your life experiences, and your music can have no meaningful life if yours is empty.

So use technology in your music to help you perform better because that’s the ultimate goal: sharing your musical gifts with others to make their lives better by lifting their spirits and brighting their lives.  This means:

  • If you have difficulty tuning your instrument, get an electronic tuner app.
  • If you can’t remember tempos on performance day, or have trouble with difficult rhythms, get a metronome app (we’re working on one).
  • If turning pages is killing you at the keyboard, get an iPad app and a wireless foot pedal to make the hassles and tensions of paper music go away (here’s one).
  • If your conductor is constantly glaring at you because you can’t remember what terms like Adagissimo mean, by all means get yourself a musical dictionary app.
  • If you can’t remember how to finger low E flat on your bassoon, get an app with fingering charts (we’re working on that too).

Helping musicians perform better is why OnStage Technologies exists. Tell us what you need, and we’ll bend the technology into the right shape for you.

How do you use technology in your musical performance?


Gearing Up

I enjoy participating in the weekly Sunday Set List posts over at The Worship Community.  In recognition of the 200th Sunday Set List post,  the regular contributors have been asked to do a little photo essay on their prep and rehearsal for their service on May 13th.  As I put my own photos together, I realized there are more moving parts in my current rig than I thought. It may be time to get a road crew…

IMG 3688

But as I looked over the photos (as you can see, I am NOT a photographer), the thing that really struck me was what wasn’t there any longer:  a series of Rube-Goldberg devices to hold my sheet music.  Managing an ever-growing pile of music every Sunday was starting to suck the joy out playing and was preventing me from staying focused on worship.  I am very grateful that God gave me the ability to be able fix that, and I’ve been happily sharing my solution ever since with as many other musicians as I can get to listen.

IMG 3702

If you’re a musician struggling with paper music, you owe it to yourself to get an iPad and a score app.  Of course I would love to see you use mine, but there are several great ones to choose from, and you want an app that fits you. What’s most important to me is that you get something, because once you eliminate the hassles of the paper, you can get back to enjoying your playing, and truly focus down on worship again.

7 Reasons Why You Should Try a Score App

Prior to the appearance of personal computers, we musicians saw little change in printed music “technology” since the invention of paper. We’ve had paper music in either book or sheet form basically forever, and that’s all we’ve had.

Some of us who regularly struggle with the evils of paper music started to wonder whether the PC might be the answer to our paper woes. A few of us even drew up ideas on napkins where the PC would show the music and magically turn the pages when necessary. But who could imagine actually hauling a PC out on stage and plunking it on top of the piano or a music stand. And who of us would be willing to trust a PC not to crash in the middle of a performance? The Blue Man Group might have been renamed The Blue Screen Group. The arrival of the iPad, however, changed the whole “playing” field dramatically. Today, harried page turners everywhere now have a practical alternative worth considering.

So called “score apps” for the iPad vary widely in their feature sets, but all of them share at least one thing in common: they manage the display of music during performance. That one simple feature, when done well, makes the price of an iPad seem, well, priceless.

Here are 7 quick ways a score app will help you improve your rehearsals and performance:

  1. Basic page turning becomes effortless. You either tap or swipe the screen to turn pages. With the addition of a wireless foot pedal, your hands never need to leave your instrument.
  2. Skipping multiple pages becomes safe and easy. Most score apps allow you to skip multiple pages in any direction using just a single tap on the screen. This is handy for jumping to segnos, codas, and repeat signs that are multiple pages apart. In NextPage, this is done using “Page Links”.
  3. Scores can be “flattened.” Some score apps allow you to duplicate and reorder pages such that you only ever have to page forward. This is sometimes advantageous when playing a piece with an extremely fast tempo.
  4. You can play in poor lighting conditions. The iPad provides the light for your music, and you can fully control the brightness. You can play in poorly lit or even completely dark rooms.  No more surprises on performance day.
  5. You can mark up the music without it getting in the way. Virtually every score app provides tools that let you annotate your music by drawing with your finger, highlighting sections, or typing notes into the score. Performance-oriented apps like NextPage let also let you hide them during performance. This is handy, for example, when you don’t want rehearsal markings distracting you during the actual performance.
  6. Your music won’t fight you anymore. Can you imagine a world where the paper doesn’t fall on floor, or the music book doesn’t close itself, or there is never a missing page, or the pages are always in the proper order? A score app can make that world a reality for you.
  7. The right music is always with you. An iPad can hold a tremendous amount of music, if not your entire library many times over. How handy would it be to always have the right music with you when the group leader changes the set list at the last minute?

There is an old proverb that says “Better is the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” Paper music is clearly a devil we musicians all know, and it’s true that technology can sometimes make a bad situation worse, but that’s not the case here. I sincerely encourage you to try out a score app. Borrow an iPad if you need to, but please try it. You owe it to yourself.

In fact, I’ll provide the first 25 folks who contact me with a complimentary copy of  NextPage. You can try out this new world for free, no strings attached.  It’s that important.