I am using the iPad to make my life easier and more efficient. That in turn gives me a chance to do my job better as a music teacher.
First thing is that I have come up with a workflow that I think is going to streamline one of the biggest hassles we have as music teachers. That job of getting music out to students. From now on I will be creating PDF files of every song we do in class. I will have two files, one for the score and one for the parts. I tried creating a separate PDF for each part but have decided that gave me too many files to keep track of and properly label. It is so much easier to just create one PDF with all the parts in it. So now when I need a part for a student, I simply find the correct page and print off a part. The beauty of this is that I can do this very quickly from my iPad. If I have all the current songs we are playing in my DropBox account, or even better right on my iPad, access is quick and it is easy to print out that one sheet. What used to take a trip off the podium, to the music cabinet, digging through the box of music (and hoping there was still a part in there) and then a trip to the copy room is now boiled down to about 30 seconds. I will of course have a much larger collection of all the songs I have ever created PDF’s for on my computer. I suppose there really isn’t any need to carry al those with me on my iPad though, just the current pieces we are working on.
The second workflow involves songs that are in Sibelius. I have quite a few songs that I have Sibelius files for. With Scorch for the iPad now available I can see that I will be creating even more files soon. Yes it will take time to put those songs into Sibelius but I think it will be worth it in the long run. These will be songs that I will use in future years, not just a one time thing. Having the piece in Sibelius opens up flexibility I would not have otherwise. For instance, I currently have a freshman horn player. She is very capable but young. She needs some assistance and backup on a few important riffs in her part. Since I have the parts in Sibelius I can take those sections and mix them into the trombone part, where I have a very strong upperclassman player, and come up with a new part so everything is covered! One thing about Sibelius files though that is going to change this year. In the past I never made PDF files of the parts for those pieces. I made a PDF of the score for my iPad but not the parts. I would go open Sibelius and print the music from there. From now on I will be creating a PDF file with all the parts in it too. Why? Access and speed. It is so much faster to open a PDF then it is Sibelius.
Third point I want to bring out is the annotation of PDF files from my iPad. It has been discussed, very heatedly in some cases, about whether or not musicians should be annotating their music. I am of the opinion that this is a no brainer. My students know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they should be writing on their music. My students see me writing in my music. During marching band I write drill notes in my music scores. When I play my euphonium I am constantly writing in fingerings, notes from the conductor, circling passages to practice more and making marks to help me be a better performer. All these annotations should be kept for future reference! The trouble is that they only live on my iPad until I export them out. ForScore does a great job of this for instance. After annotating pieces, I go to the email icon under “Share Files” and select “with annotations” and email myself a PDF. After renaming the file so I know there are annotations in this version I file it in the proper spot with the original, clean PDF. If you have the right software you could just print the file to your computer as well. For this sort of solution check out Printopia. (http://www.ecamm.com/mac/printopia/)
So the moral of the story? PDF files for all! Life should be easier and more fun!