iPad and Sibelius

The way we interact with our iPads and music notation has once again changed dramatically! Today Avid has released Scorch for the iPad. For those of you that are not making the connection Scorch and Sibelius work hand in hand. If you use Sibelius to create music notation on your computer then you will love working with Scorch for iPad! I will start off by saying that I have never been impressed with the original Scorch software – Scorch has been around for a while now and here is the description from their web-site – “Scorch is the free software which lets you view, play, customize and print Sibelius scores on the Internet.” It worked too – I did use it on my web-sites and for getting music to students during the summer time. The problem was that it frequently crashed.

With that being said…. I love Scorch for the iPad. In fact in light of the recent announcements by Apple I love it even more! So let me give you my version of what this App will do for music teachers. First of all you create your score in Sibelius (which is not THAT hard to do), then you load it into your iPad via the iTunes sharing and then you are in business! The app comes with a few sample scores installed to give you an idea of what can be done. The magic starts to happen when you load in a score of your own. For instance, I am in the midst of DrumLine practices starting. So now I have all my DrumLine warmups and cadences loaded into Scorch. I can see the full score of all the parts and conduct from that, which is something I could already do with unrealBook for instance, but I can do so much more! For scores with multiple parts reading from the entire score can be a hassle because you can only see a few measures at a time. With Scorch there is a parts button (which looks like three little pages stacked on top of each other). Using the parts button I can quickly select any of the parts and see just that instrument. This allows me to see most of the song then for that instrument! This is going to be a huge time saver, not to mention convenience. DrumLine is one of those activities where I am usually inclined to play along with the students. Of course trying to play drums and turn pages on my score is an issue – Now I will not have to worry – I will just grab my snare sticks, pull up the snare part and away we go. What about being able to have my iPad projected onto the screen in front of the class room, and being able to quickly pull up ANYONES part for the ENTIRE class to see! Of course my comments to Avid were that they should be looking at ways to make use of Apple’s AirPlay technologies so we could do this wirelessly! Then Apple came around with their announcements this week at WWDC and made those dreams come true! I am very excited about being able to use this in the classroom this next school year! Everyone being able to see Everyones part whenever I see the need is going to be a powerful tool – especially when I could be ANYWHERE in the room while doing it!

Scorch for the iPad has other great features as well. Like the store they built into the app…., the ability to transpose my music freely, and a metronome. Of course what would this App be if you couldn’t play the score as well – now my DrumLine music that I usually use Virtual DrumLine Sounds for are NOT sounding very good because the sounds built into this app are more generic but for any other instrument this is going to be useful. The quality is of the sound may be sketchy but for a student to SEE and HEAR at the same time is a great asset!

Scorch has two modes for viewing your scores, the normal view and a music stand view. In the normal view you swipe the page to turn it and you will see the toolbar at the top. In the music stand view you simply tap the page to turn it and the tool bar goes away.

The quality of the music that you are seeing is obviously wonderful because we are not scanning this music but it is instead computer generated. The file sizes are small so these file will be taking up WAY less room on your iPad. The drawback of course is that you have to actually get your music INTO Sibelius in the first place which takes time and effort.

I see one huge issue and several smaller issues that will not allow me to use Scorch only and give up my other music reader programs that I am currently using. The huge problem is that there is no way to annotate a score. I know why this is not available yet – Scorch is not a static display – it is using fonts and what you are seeing on the screen is not always in the same spot. Avid is going to figure this out though – right? Smaller issues  – the first is that in order for me to get scores into the App I HAVE to go through iTunes. I hardly ever do this right now with unrealBook. Email and Dropbox are so much faster and convenient. (We CAN indeed use DropBox with Scorch – as noted below in the comments. You just simply go into DropBox, select the Sibelius score and then click on the ‘Open in’ button. The beautiful thing is that this button will actually work because not many apps will open a Sibelius file so you will be assured to actually SEE Scorch as one of your options! Thanks Daniel!) One other smaller item is more of a wish list – I sure do wish I could print my OWN scores right from my iPad. Imagine that pesky percussionist who wastes your time constantly because he can not take care of his music…. If I could print from my iPad it would be a few seconds of my time NOT what it is now.

Avid priced Scorch at $4.99. If you own Sibelius this is a no-brainer! Go buy it NOW! I will be using this app constantly in class. It is fast to switch between apps – especially if you can use the multi-touch gestures to do so – so even though I may still be using unrealBook most of the time I will be using Scorch right alongside of it. My kids are gonna love this! (Just as a side note – Google is getting scary fast! I had hit the publish button on this post and then seconds after I clicked it I realized I did not have a link to the App. In those 30 seconds I wasted switching over to my history to see if I already had a link there – realizing no I did not – switching back to google to do a search and then performing a search my OWN post came up!)

Go get Scorch


6 thoughts on “iPad and Sibelius

  1. what kind of projector do you use with Sebelius in your classroom – I have an activBoard and projector but the resolution is very low and it is hard to read notation? Thank for any ideas about this.

  2. I don’t know for sure what brand of projector is in my room. I know some of our rooms have Epsons, I will look when I go back in. I do know that it is important which cable you are using though. I have tried using a component video cable, you know the RCA yellow one, and the quality off that was not good. I use the VGA adaptor’s coming out of my laptop and that gives the best resolution. Of course size is always going to be an issue with students trying to read music notation. I have several low brass players who sit in the back of the room that I know will not be able to actually play what is on the screen unless I enlarge it. Which brings up a point I forgot in the post above, Scorch doesn’t allow us to change the size of what it we are viewing and have it reflow to fit the screen. In other words I can use multitouch gestures to zoom into a section of the score and I could fill the screen with one measure. That one measure would then be great but it would be nice to increase the font size like in iBooks. Then the entire score would be bigger and we would still be able to turn pages for instance.

  3. Paul, great write-up. Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with Scorch!

    You can in fact use Scorch with Dropbox on your iPad: for any Sibelius file in your Dropbox, click the ‘Open in’ button at the top right and choose Scorch from the list of applications, and the score will open right up and be added to your Scorch library.

    1. Of course! Why didn’t I think of that? The benefit here is that since Sibelius is a pretty specific file type the ‘Open in’ button is going to actually WORK! I have had very mixed results using the ‘Open in’ button while using PDF’s because I have too many Apps that are able to open PDF’s and the ‘Open in’ button rarely has the App I would like listed as a part of the ten that it picks. I have not been able to figure out how this list works either. I thought it was alphabetical for awhile but have since figured out it is not.

      I am going to go back and edit my original post!

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