Creating Music Notation on an iPad

Notion Large Iconnotatemelogo = AMAZING

Ever run into the scenario where you pull out a piece of music that you really want to perform for your next concert only to find out that the keyboard part has been lost?

Ever have a budding young bass guitarist who is learning how to read notes and play that bass but you know that if you handed her tabs to go along with the notation things would go a whole lot faster in rehearsal?

My answers: Yup and Yup!

My response: Use a couple of apps, my iPad and an external MIDI Keyboard along with my Camera Connection Kit and an hour or so later I have the problem solved!


I took the actual paper copy of the bass part to the piece of music, used the outstanding app NotateMe Icon SmallNotateMe along with the PhotoScore plugin and took a picture on my iPhone of the bass part. NotateMe and the PhotoScore plugin turned that picture of the sheet music into digital notation. Using my iPhone and my finger I cleaned up and fixed a few small errors. Then I exported that as an XML file into Notion Small IconNotion for iPad. Notion is a full featured music notation app for iPad as well as desktop computers.

I did the same for the guitar part just for the fun of it because it is so stinking fast and easy to do!

Here is what the Bass guitar part looked like after I imported it into Notion and set the instrument as a Bass Guitar (Notion automatically had the TAB turned on for me already but it is a quick tap of a button to turn off as you will that I did for the Guitar part) Now I’ve got my bassist taken care of.


On to the lost Keyboard part – for this I hooked up my Camera Connection Kit to my Novation LaunchKey. The LaunchKey is bus powered by the iPad so I didn’t have to worry about additional power cords or batteries.

Then in Notion I added a piano part, tapped on the first measure, and then the record button. Then I played the right hand in real time while Notion (on an iPad mind you!) recorded it. During recording you get these little blue lines but as soon as you hit the stop button those blue lines get turned into music notation! I have come to discover that doing this on an iPad is giving me just results that are just as excellent as on a laptop! Then I repeated and recorded the left hand. While recording the left hand I set the split point so that it wouldn’t mess up the RH part. I had a couple of weird errors afterwards so I fixed those quickly by tapping and selecting and erasing and changing – easy and quick!

After all that this is my score I ended up with on the iPad… You can see that it looks fantabulous!

Notion ScorePRSunset

The last and final step was to hit the share/export button, elect Export PDF, select Individual Parts and then Email. I sent myself a copy to print in the morning and I also sent my bassist a copy of her new sheet music that now included the TABs.

If you have NOT used NotateMe you really must! There is even a totally free version of the app called NotateMe Icon SmallNotateMe Now that allows you to experience the PhotoScore plugin as well FOR FREE – the limitation is that it only works with one stave parts. So a trumpet part could be scanned in but a piano part could not.

If you have not decided whether or not Music Notation on an iPad is ready yet get your gift card out and buy either SymphonyPro Small IconSymphonyPro ($9.99) or Notion Small IconNotion for iPad ($14.99) (warning – Notion does take about 2GB’s of space on your iPad because of the amazing sounds used in the app!)

Xenon Labs does also have a version of Symphony for iPhoneSymphony for iPhone that works very well and is only $4.99

The Full version of NotateMe is $39.99 (NotateMe is actually an app that allows you to handwrite music notation)
The PhotoScore Plugin for NotateMe is $29.99 (Yes, I fully understand that some of you may have choked on your pancakes upon seeing the price of these two apps – let me put it into perspective for you though – I used to do this same thing with a REAL computer, a REAL scanner and the $250 version of PhotoScore for computers. The scary cool thing is that it seems like this almost works better on my iPad!)

audiomux and midimux – Buy Now To Save!

midimux Icon audimux Icon

If you have an iPad, a Mac Computer and you want to make some sweet music mixing the two then you need to buy audiomux and midimux. Plus, for the next week at least, you can get the two of them as a bundle to save money!

midimux Iconmidimux – $9.99

audimux Iconaudiomux – $6.99

audio-midimux BundleBundle – $9.99

I’ve posted about these before, as well as Music IO which is a similar app. Here is a recap though….

midimux allows you to send midi signals back and forth between your iOS device and your Mac using the USB cable that came with your iOS device.

audiomux allows you to stream audio from your iOS device to your Mac and vice versa all with a very low cpu usage.

Both apps even allow you to use multiple iOS devices connected to the same Mac!


Spring App Sales/Updates

NanoStudio is 50% off This Weekend!

Oh wow, this is a great deal! This is the cheapest NanoStudio LogoNanoStudio has ever been – $6.99! Must be celebration that it is Spring time now!

See my post below about this app – too….

NanaStudio is a multi-track recording studio with a builtin synth that is just pure greatness, the ability to sample and edit your own sounds, a sequencer, trigger pads, a mixer and even effects… all wrapped up in one shiny little app!

  • 6 simultaneous instruments (IAP gets you 16)
  • NanoStudio supports audio copy/past.
  • Supports core MIDI and external MIDI interfaces
  • Will upload your creations to SoundCloud
  • Ability to transfer samples, final mixes and individual track mix downs straight to your Mac/PC via a companion app there
  • AudioBus compatible in the Input or OutPut slot

PDF Expert 5 – 50% Sale (All Teachers Need This App!)

PDF Expert5 Small IconPDF Expert 5 – $4.99 (currently on a 50% sale)

As teachers we have to constantly deal with an immense mountain of paperwork each and every day! The good news is that our iPads can help tame that mountain. PDF Expert is one of those apps that is on my front page of apps on both my phone as well as my iPad. It helps me when I have to fill out forms, have people sign things, or when we are working on a worksheet in class that I want to project on the big screen to demonstrate for the students. PDF Expert helps me to organize, download, upload and store all those documents I get from my principals, the organizations I belong to, my Band Boosters and the papers I scan to grade from my students. It’s ability to interact with cloud services is amazing, be it DropBox, GoogleDrive or iCloud (and many others by the way)

PDF Expert Storage

PDF Expert is one of those apps that I use when I interact with other people – like today when my principal needed to sign my forms for the band to attend band festival. She has gotten pretty used to this over the past couple of years. I love using PDF Expert in class – I load in a worksheet and project it on the big screen. Then I have every kids attention on the correct spot – no wondering if they know what I am talking about because I can show them all at once. Then as we work through the answers, I wander around the room and have students write in their answers on my iPad that then show up on the screen in front of the room. Kids love being able to have what they are writing on the iPad magically show up on the screen – look ma, no wires!

You HAVE to use one workflow of where to store all those documents and which app you will use to edit, read and share them. For me that workflow is to use PDF Expert and Readdle’s Document app. You can even transfer files from your iPad straight to your laptop! (I HATE WIRES!)

Indispensable and currently 50% off! What are you waiting for? Go buy it and you too can be Viewing, Editing, Annotating, Signing, Filling Out, and Organizing! By the way this is not JUST for PDF’s….

PDF Expert File Types

What Can Be Created On An iPad With Just One App? (NanoStudio!)

NanoStudio LogoI was astonished the other day when I was at our Board Meeting to have a nice lady come up to discuss apps on these new fangled phones and iPads! She was amazed at the ability for an iPad to become a tuner! Man, I wish I had more time to talk to her! I would have shown her a few other iPad music skills to astonish her….

Like what can created with an app like NanoStudio LogoNanoStudio ($13.99)….. (Have you seen NanoStudio? If you don’t have it you should! It’s AWESOME!)

NanoStudio works on iPad or iPhone/iPod Touch so it could be a very accessible piece of technology to incorporate with students. In August NanoStudio was updated and now requires iOS 7 or later. It has been around since July of 2010 and continues to run on the older devices although you will have to download the older version. Plus, did you know that NanoStudio is available for the Mac/PC as a free download!

In this first piece I did some sampling of my own using an Arizona Tea Can for some of the rhythmic parts. It’d be so easy to have kids make music using their very own sounds!

This piece was only 4 tracks of sequencing but the sounds in NanoStudio are so inspiring it’s not hard to come up with something fun, interesting and will take up a couple hours of your time – who needs TV!

Music IO App – Audio Update Coming Soon (Buy Now and Get the Audio Too!)

UPDATE – From Patrick, one of the developers of Music IO – “Just to clarify — audio from iOS to Mac is coming in the next couple of days. We’ll have audio going the other way in the next release after that (probably about 6 weeks from now), along with multiple channels of audio from iOS to Mac (probably four channels to be precise). Good times, good fun!”

Music IO Small IconMusic IO ($2.99) is soon to get a stellar, and amazing, update that will send AUDIO back and forth over the USB iOS cable! Yup… you heard me right – audio! Plus if you buy the version that is currently on the app store that transmits MIDI data then you will also receive the update for free!

Music IO is one of those apps that snuck up and took most of us by surprise! Pleasantly though!

I’ve written about it earlier on my blog so if you want to know more you can search for that post but in a nutshell here it is again… With the Music IO on your iOS device and the counter installed on your Mac Computer you can send MIDI back and forth over the iOS charging cable! This is amazing news as before we had to deal with finicky wi-fi or with bluetooth connections – both of which might work and might not! (I think it had something to do with whether or not there was a full moon out – maybe not though)

Now you can run a DAW, like Logic, on your desktop and with Music IO and that one cable, you will be able to run an iPad app (like a synth or drum machine or guitar amp simulator or iMPC Pro or whatever) and that audio will be transferred with extremely low latency into your DAW! This has been possible with an interface like the iConnectMIDI 2+ ($89) or iConnectMIDI 4+ ($199) BUT here we are talking about an app that does very much the same sort of functionality for $2.99!

Now, don’t get me wrong – I don’t think that Music IO is a total replacement for an interface like the iConnect MIDI but I will say that for many people it just might be! I have an iConnect MIDI 2+ and it is a bit of a pain to hook up extra wires but I do it because of the capabilities I gain! It’s very awesome to hear your iPad audio coming straight into your desktop DAW knowing that it is a pure digital signal PLUS I get to have my old MIDI keyboards hooked up as well!

StudioOne FreeConsidering that PreSonus has their StudioOne Free app available for a free download on their website, this newest update for Music IO a no brainer for EVERYBODY! This should open up doors of creativity for ANYONE who sits down with an iPad, a regular computer and an app or two.


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