Essential iPad Apps For Marching Band Directors (during the prep for marching season)

Are you a Marching Band Director with an iPad? Well then you are probably working through much of the same preparation as I am. How does my iPad help me in all of this craziness?

In the prep of the drill I have my iPad on the entire time even though I am writing drill in Pyware 3D. On the iPad I use UnRealBook Small IconUnRealBook or ForScore Small IconForScore or possibly even GigBook Small IconGigBook to display my music. I also use the annotation tools in those apps to write on top of my music all of the drill chart pages and instructions. I can not imagine going back to paper music and having to write al of this in, copying the scores, inserting into sheet protectors, using three ring binders and then just waiting for that rain to wreck it all!

If you have an iPad and you are NOT using one of these three apps along with PDF’s for you sheet music you need to go get on this task right now! These apps are some of the apps that have been on my iPad since I bought the first iPad on the day it was released! In fact, as a music teacher, this is THE reason I bought that iPad1! Which of the three should you start with? Pick one…. seriously…

I have a new app that I think is going to be amazing this year – DrillBook Next Small IconDrillBook Next is $9.99 for the Directors version of the app that I just discovered this year. After creating the drill in P3D I then simply export performer coordinate sheets which I then import into DrillBook Next – giving me my entire drill in interactive format on my iPad!

Students can also easily use the app as well – BONUS: they can use it on DrillBook Next Small IconDrillBook Next Reader for iPad ($4.99), DrillBook Next Small IconDrillBook Next Reader for iPod ($2.99) or even Android ($2.99) as well as on a desktop computer (on the computer it’s free, yup, FREE!)

The only thing missing here is being able to watch my drill and have it synced to music. After talking to Scott – the developer – though, I fully understand the copyright issues this would cause with the way access to the drill works.

I have not convinced myself to go iPad on this front while creating and editing my musical notation files yet. I have ordered my Notion5 though for desktop and am committing to digging in and learning Notion this year. I mean, come on! There is a full fledged desktop AND iPad app available for Notion Small Icon Notion! Yes, I could work with NoteFlight but Notions excellent sound have won me over!

Currently my workflow is to create and edit in Sibelius then export to Avid Scorch Small Icon Avid Scorch. I also export PDF files to use in ForScore or UnRealBook. I will say that when I use Scorch I find one extra step is needed to make great use of the size of the iPad. If I just open the full score there is always too much info on the screen. On the desktop I simply focus on select staves and all is well. In fact if you save your Sibelius file with it focused on those select staves then when you email it to yourself and open it in Scorch it will stay focused! My problem is that I want to also have a DrumLine condensed score I can jump back and forth between. Well…. here’s your Sibelius Tip of the week – I wrote this Blog Post back in Aug 2012 and I use it all the time because of dumping scores over to the iPad. This Blog Post will show you how to set up condensed scores so that they are just a tap away, just like you can quickly jump to any other part in the score.

Of course I also have to have a metronome app while arranging music – I find that I have used Tempo Small IconTempo the most of all my metronome apps. It works on my iPad as well as my iPhone. It looks great on both. This is not a metronome designed for the iPhone that I have to use in 2x mode, it was designed for both devices screen sizes.

MUSIC RECORDINGS (of our show):
CLICK TRACK CREATION – For each of my marching show pieces I always add in a click track at least for an intro measure. That way we are not guessing when the recording is going to start as we rehearse. In order to do that GarageBand small iconGarageBand works fine.

MultiTrack DAW small iconMultiTrack DAW or Cubasis small iconCubasis would work too. The process is simple – Import the recording, create another track with drums in it and record a few measures of you tapping along to the recording. Move that audio to the beginning and export the new file.

Remember – These apps would also give you an excellent way to record your groups for evaluation later! UnRealBook and ForScore allow you to record rehearsals (or whatever) while you are viewing your PDF music even!

REHEARSAL with those recordings – One of my essential apps for marching band rehearsal is AnyTune Icon SmallAnyTune Pro+. We use this app constantly all season long so we can rehearse our marching skills to a recording of the show. AnyTune Pro+ allows us to set book marks so we can quickly jump to any place in the song we want. We can slow the music down and we can even loop a section if we want to go through it a few times. In fact, if you are only going to by one app this fall this just might be your best choice!

MUSIC RECORDINGS (of any song):
I of course use my iTunes app and library to play music for the students over AirPlay – AirServer App works wonders for not having to have wires connected!

I have also started using SpotifySpotify. On the iPad it is amazing the music you have available at your fingertips FOR FREE! There is so much educational music on there it astounds me – soloists for all instruments, classical, jazz, brass band, pop and whatever else you want.

I use FileMakerGo Small IconFileMaker on my desktop and iPad all the time. I have created databases in FM that save me a ton of time every year. Want a roster of my class, tap that button. Oh, you want it sorted by instrument? No problem. What about if you want a list of your band sorted by gender but then also broken down by grade level and then sorted by last name? Every year you have to order shoes? Not a problem, here is the list…. same with shirts…. and by the way I grouped the kids names by size of course!

The drawback to FileMaker is that you have to create the database on the desktop FIRST! Then it can all be transferred and worked with on an iPad or iPhone. Of course if you have a friend that has designed a database maybe they would be nice enough to share! But seriously, go buy a database and STOP USING SPREADSHEETS! There are a few very useful sample databases that come with the download of the free iOS FM13 App. The real fun is when you can edit those to make them work in ways to benefit you and your program.

DropBox Small IconDropBox is also an essential place for me to share files with students like music arrangements as they become available or PDF’s of the drill charts (although with DrillBook Next, I think PDF drill charts are going bye-bye!)

We also use DropBox to store all of the registration and medical forms for all the kids. They send it to us, we scan it and upload it to DropBox. From there my entire staff has access to important information. DROPBOX TIP – We will also make sure to download those files to our devices so we can have access when there is no network at camp, on trips or God forbid in the hospital.

I try really hard to keep my blog up to date on wordpress by using Blogsy Small IconBlogsy. Blogsy is heads and tales better then the WordPress App. When my students are blogging I suggest they use the WordPress app because it is free and it does actually work (most of the time).

I also have a band Twitter, FaceBook and YouTube.

The Apple Calendar app is basic as is the Reminders app. The benefit to using those two apps is that I use SIRI to interact with my schedule all the time.

When I actually need to open an app though I use Calendars 5Calendars 5 or Fantastical Small IconFantastical – a huge step up from the other apps!

I also love using GoodTask Small IconGoodTask for my reminders (you know, this might need to be your one MUST buy app for the fall… hmmm….)


This is just a blog post to get started with ideas of how essential tech is in a Band Directors life during Marching Season

Music Making iOS Apps on Sale Currently

There are some really great apps on sale right now to help you with the creation of music on an iOS device….

Want to create a little music and noise? These are some awesome apps to have on sale…. right from the grand-daddy of them all – Animoog down to the new kid on the block – Sector. iGrand has some of the best sounding piano sounds for iOS and the price drop includes dropping the price of the expansion pack too!

Animoog Small IconAnimoog – $19.99 (down from $29.99) (33%)

Animoog Small IconAnimoog for iPhone – $5.99 (down from $9.99) (50%)

SectorSector – $7.99 (down from $8.99)

Beatmaker2 Small IconBeatMaker 2 – $9.99 (down from $19.99) (50%)

Everyday Looper Small IconEveryday Looper – $2.99 (down from $5.99) (50%)

Filtatron Small IconFiltatron – $5.99 (down from $7.99)

iGrand icon smalliGrand – $11.99 (down from $19.99 (Expansion pack is only $5.99 right now)

iLectric icon smalliLectric – $11.99 (down from $19.99 (Expansion pack is only $5.99 right now)


Have any MIDI keyboards you use? What about wanting to make your final mix sound better? Here you go…..

MIDI Designer Pro Small IconMIDI Designer Pro – $19.99 (down from $29.99)

Final Touch Small IconFinal Touch – $12.99 (down from $19.99)


Next up we have some biggie wallet savers for any guitar player out there…..

JamUp Pro Small iconJamUp XT PRO – $4.99 (down from $19.99) (75%) PLUS all expansion packs are 50% off too!

Bias - Amps Small IconBIAS – $4.99 (down from $19.99) (75%)

Bias - Amps Small IconBIAS for iPhone – $4.99 (down from $19.99) (75%)

Input Slider on Loopy. Finally!

LoopyHD has been updated and one of the new features I am so happy to see is that there is now an Input gain slider! It's about time that ALL iOS music apps get this!

Plus it's on sale for half off currently too!


PreSonus Capture App for iPad

If you read my first review of the PreSonus Capture App I discovered a few items that I needed to fix in that review! Here is the link to the review with the correct details in it!

A few details I had messed up -

  1. You actually CAN get your recordings off your iPad WITHOUT needing StudioOne! Simply use iTunes file sharing.
  2. There is a much easier way to adjust the start and end of a recording – simply drag the start or ending points!
  3. Of course I discovered that you can record two tracks of STEREO after I had recorded the video. I edited the video to reflect this.
  4. I also now correctly note in the video that the volume slider does NOT adjust your input level.

As I mentioned in my first, hasty, review…. I think this app is a significant addition to the line up of iPad DAW’s available to users! Since the one version is free there is no reason to NOT download it and use it!

Here is the updated video as well…

This is Fantastic! Fantastical is 50% off Currently!

If you have never heard of Fantastical 2 for iPad/iPhone/Mac then you really need to go take a look at how much easier you life could be! Back in April, I wrote about Fantastical when it was updated to Version 2. There were some great features that increased the versatility of the app then and today it gets bumped to V2.1 PLUS it goes on 50% sale!

I think all of us use our calendars on our devices as a way to stay on top of our busy schedules. That means adding events left and right, which means doing a whole bunch of tap-tap-tap and digging through menus to find that setting we need changed. Fantastical 2 has the aim of making this process so much faster! Fantastical uses natural language input – Simply type in “Lunch next Wednesday with Ron Smith at Hotel Doherty” and your event is created on the correct day, with the correct time at the right location with the right person!

The only downside to this app is that you have to buy the iPad version separate from the iPhone version. Since the apps are on sale though…. you should just go buy both of them!

Of course, using Fantastical 2 on the Mac really makes the process of managing our calendars even easier because Fantastical lives up in the menu bar. You can check your calendar, create events and even work though your Reminders all without actually opening an app!

IF you are still using the stock, Apple Calendar and Reminders then this is your special day!

Fantastical Small IconFantastical 2 for iPad – $4.99

Fantastical Small IconFantastical 2 for iPhone – $4.99

Fantastical 2 for Mac Small IconFantastical 2 for Mac – $9.99

Exciting News – Notion Music Notation App is bumped up to Version 5!

notion 5PreSonus has been busy, busy, busy! Not only did they release a new DAW for iPad called Capture Small Icon Presonus Capture, to use in conjunction with StudioOne but now Notion for the desktop has been updated to version 5!

Notion is PreSonus’s notation app that is truly cross platform – they have a version for Mac, Windows and iPad! Notion is probably your best choice for an all around music notation program because of that reason along with a few other details. Finale and Sibelius both have apps for the iPad that allow you to view notation files on the iPad but those iPad apps do not allow you to create and edit those notation files. IF you have Sibelius or Finale you should absolutely own those iPad apps though! For Sibelius users you should download Avid Scorch Small IconScorch. Finale users should download Finale SongBook Small IconFinale SongBook. They are both free and add an amazing level of access to those music notation files on your iPad!

Back to Notion V5….

You can go visit the Notion website to read everything but let me tell you why I believe this is a huge move for PreSonus/Notion. One of the new capabilities in Notion is that is is gaining some of the functionalities of StudioOne along with the look of StudioOne. What does that mean? That means that this nice notation app is gaining full-fledged DAW capabilities! New mixer, new plug-inslike Compressor/Limiter/EQ and by using Re-Wire you can even run a music notation file in Notion right alongside a recording project in StudioOne!

Do not underestimate the importance of this integration!

Another item that caught my eye is that Notion allows you to perform you Notion files live – adjusting tempo and volume to stay with the live performance simply by tapping along on a MIDI keyboard. PLUS Notion allows you to import audio files as a part of the project too! Of course one of the big new features is the ability to work with movies now. Sibelius of course has been able to work with video for quite a while now.

The price of Notion has gone up to $150, it used to be $100. If you have version’s 3 or 4 you can upgrade for $50. Now that $150 is the FULL price not an upgrade!

Compare that to the cost of Sibelius full price being $599 with upgrades costing from $50-$100 depending on which version you are running.

Compared to the cost of Finale full price being $600 with an upgrade costing you $140.

Just which version do you think students are going to be able to afford? Now, to be fair Finale does offer several slimed down versions of Final for $50-$120 and Sibelius offers a slimmed down version for $120. Both of those apps also offer educational pricing too.

Confused yet?

One more reason to like Notion – simple and straightforward and affordable!

These apps are going to cost you some hard drive space on your computer!

Notion – around 8GB
Sibelius – around 36GB
Finale – around 2.5GB

CHOICES: There used to be two main choices for music notation – Sibelius or Finale. Now we have a bunch of options! Some apps run on desktop as well as on iPad. Then we have some other options that are iPad only now. Here’s the run-down.
Notion – Desktop and Notion Small IconiPad version – $
Sibelius – Desktop version with Avid Scorch Small IconScorch (an iPad viewer) – $$
Finale – Desktop version with Finale SongBook Small IconFinale SongBook (an iPad viewer) – $$$
NoteFlight – works on desktop or iPad through a web browser – FREE!
MuseScore – Desktop version (FREE) with an iPad viewer $

SymphonyPro Small IconSymphonyPro – iPad app $
Tabular iOS Small IconTabular – iPad app $
NotateMe Icon SmallNotateMe – iPad app $ (Handwritten music PLUS amazing music scanning plugin – $)
SmartScore NoteReader – iPad app music scanning app (read about it here on Chris Russell’s website –
Sonja Small IconSonja – iPad app free


If you only own an iPad and want a music notation app – Get Notion IF YOU HAVE SPACE – or SymphonyPro. You can NOT go wrong with either app!

If you want a great music notation app and you own an iPad plus you want to be able to work on notation files from the laptop as well as the iPad…. get Notion.

If you already own Sibelius and are as worried as I am about the future of Sibelius… (Heck, I haven’t even upgraded to version 7 yet let alone 7.5!) Notion is still going to be a great addition to having Sibelius. Especially since all three apps are Music XML compatible so you can transfer files back and forth easily!

Finale users are not worried a bit about the future of Sibelius but again Notion just might be a nice addition, especially the iPad version of Notion!

iPad Music Making Apps On Sale Right Now

If you don’t have these apps this is the perfect time to buy them at a reduced price and get creative!

I do not write about apps on my blog that I either don’t already own and use or plan on buying. All the apps I talk about here are useful to any teacher or musician. There are so many junk apps on the app store that it is hard to wade through them all. That’s why I share what I find useful in the hopes that I can save someone else the hassle of trying to guess about it’s usefulness.

Here is what is on sale right now…. (These are amazing deal! Especially the last one on the list. If you have to pick just ONE of these then get Audio Mastering. If you already have that one then get either SunRizer or Magellan!)

  • iGrand icon smalliGrand Piano $11.99 [The In-App-Purchases are also on sale right now!] (down from $19.99) – one of the best sounding piano sounds you will hear coming out of an iPad!
  • iLectric icon smalliLectric Piano $11.99 [The In-App-Purchases are also on sale right now!] (down from $19.99) – great sounding electric piano sounds you will hear coming out of an iPad!


Developer, Igor, has just released his newest effects app and has lowered the price on all of his apps. I totally consider these first two as essential in my workflow when ever I am working with my own compositions or performances from my bands at school.

  • AltiSpace Small IconAltiSpace – $5.99 – SPECIAL INTRODUCTORY PRICING/ JUST RELEASED – realistic sound of famous reverb equipment for your iPad and iPhone! The FX you will get out of this app are so tasty you will want to start using it every time you perform or record!
  • Audio Mastering Small IconAudio Mastering $6.99 (down from $12.99) – Every time you record a performance of one of your groups the last step should be to run those recordings through this app! The difference is astounding! Adjust EQ, Compression, Dynamics, Stereo Imaging and more. If you know what you are doing with this app you could get even better results that what I do but even with my limited knowledge about Mastering the difference is amazing!
  • Master FX Small IconMaster FX $5.99 (down from $11.99) – from the same developer who wrote Audio Mastering – Master FX is intended for real-time processing of sound from one or two external instruments or microphones separately while playing or singing. It can also mix instrument sound or voice with pre-recorded audio tracks.
  • Master Record Small Icon Master Record $4.99 – Easy to use recording application with convenient controls


For the Synth and drum people


For Guitar and Bass Players:

  • JamUp Pro Small iconJamUp Pro $9.99 (50% off for limited time) – The tagline on their page says “JamUp is the world’s best Guitar/Bass Multi-Effects Processor for iPad and iPhone.” but the competition is tough with this next app that is also on sale…
  • Bias - Amps Small Icon Bias – Amps Designer and Modeler – $9.99 (50% off for limited time – Their tagline says “Amp Designer, Modeler and Processor for iPad. It’s warm, accurate and more versatile than any other modeler, processor in hardware or software ever created.” so you pick which is best!


AND THE BEST DEAL OF ALL – For those of us who DON’T play guitar but wish we did (well….   OK, you people that do play guitar are still going to like this one!)


BONUS – I’ve got to mention this one again – it is a Mac App.

For those of us who need to create programs, posters, logos and all sorts of graphics work….

Pixelmator Small IconPixelmator is the best alternative to PhotoShop for a much better price and currently it is on a 50% sale for $15.99!



Remember – if you are inspired to purchase apps because of my blog, please click on the links in this post and help give back to my efforts here. Each link is an affiliate link and gives me a small percentage of Apple’s profit on each app. The developer still gets their full profit.




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