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!)

Auria Goes PRO! Now THERE is some news worth reading!

Auria Header

Over at the Auria discussion boards it was announced today that one of THE big DAW apps for iPad is going to be going to a new version which will be called “Auria Pro”.

If you are not familiar with what Auria is currently here it is…. Auria is one of the leading Digital Audio Workstations for iPad offering 48 tracks of digital audio playback from iPad and 24 tracks of simultaneous recording! I’ve said it before… when the concept of Auria was first introduced people could not believe that this would ever happen!

Now Auria is taking the next step…. of course we have heard rumors that this was going to happen but now it is official with the first public showing happening at the upcoming NAMM show! Here is the run down with some screen shots of the new and might I say much improved UI….

Some of you who are still using older iPads are going to want to start thinking about upgrading to an iPad Air or iPad Air2 because it is my guess that these new features are not going to do so well on much less – iPad2 is gonna be out as the current version of Auria won’t run that well on it.

Another thought – for those of you who are freaking out at the $49.99 price tag because you have never spent more than $1.99 on an app….. This is a pro app, this gives you functionality that has only been available on desktop apps in the past and those apps have cost $200 up to $500!

New Features: (I have bolded the items that are the main head liners……)

– Comprehensive MIDI capabilities including:
– MIDI sequencing
– Tempo and Time-signature tracks
– Piano roll editor
– Real-time MIDI parameters including quantize, velocity shift, velocity compression,
length compression, random, delay, legato and transpose
– Groove template quantizing with built-in DNA grooves (additional grooves available for
– MIDI processing functions including Transpose, Fixed Length, Velocity Gain, Fixed
Velocity, Delete Notes, Delete Controller, Restrict Polyphony, Optimize Controller Data,
Humanize, Delete Overlaps, Crescendo, Reverse, Pedal to Length, Velocity Rescale,
Velocity Range, Velocity Curve and Compress/Limit
– FabFilter Twin 2 Analog synth built in
– WaveMachine Labs multi-format sampler built in
– Powerful new audio routing with flexible busses
– Real-time audio warping using Elastique Pro v3
– Audio quantize feature
– Transient slicing
– Audio to MIDI conversion – WHAT!?! 
– Unlimited tracks
– 6 AUX sends
– Project templates
– Updated graphics and overall performance improvements

Auria Pro will be available Spring 2015 and will be priced at $49.99, and existing Auria users will also be able to upgrade to Auria Pro for a reduced price. I have no idea what the upgrade price will be but the full version of the current app is on a 50% sale for $24.99. Pricing for the standard Auria version will be staying at $24.99.

editor_detail editor midi_control mixer piano_roll warp_markers

Pocket Studio by XME is Free! A 98 Track Digital Audio Workstation on your iPad…

What’s to think about it’s free! Go get it – Especially if you haven’t bought yourself an app that does the the whole digital audio workstation bit yet!

Plus their BeatPad Small IconBeatPad is on sale for $2.99 (down from $5.99). BeatPad and PocketStudio work hand in hand. Pass your beats you create in BeatPad off to PocketStudio then record your keys, vocal and guitar into PocketStudio. Don’t forget to add some live horns in there too!

Pocket Studio LargePocket Studio by XME here is a list of top features to tempt you even more….

• 96 Tracks! YES, NINETY SIX TRACKS! Create as many tracks up to 96 as your iOS device will let you. 
• BeatPad midi plugin: Tap the folder icon/new/track/midi then tap the Midi Track’s input button to select BeatPad. 
• Audiobus
• Record Digital Audio from devices plugged into dock connector 
• Record audio and midi tracks in each session 
• Available reverb and delay effect sends for each track 
• Unlimited Songs 
• Beautiful Design 
• Import Audio from Your Music Library  
• Import audio from email 
• Record audio from thousands of online radio stations 
• Quantize midi tracks to keep notes in sync 
• Tap and hold metronome button to reveal metronome UI 
• Tap and hold Input button to quickly reveal input plugin (BeatPad or Online Radio for example) 
• 118 BeatPad Kits available for download 
• Quick Punch Recording 
• Tap Docs button/NewTrack/Midi then set BeatPad as the input to create BeatPad midi tracks

BeatPad LargeFEATURES 
– Create Custom Kits by sampling microphone audio or Importing audio from email and the web! 
– Share your custom kits with friends! 
– Download Kits made by others from around the world 
– Universal App Installs on iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch! 
– Quantize: Automatic Note Sync keeps you on beat
– Email Your Beats to EVERYONE! 
– Upload Your Beats to SoundCloud, YouTube & Your FaceBook wall 
– Professional Sound Banks used by Real Producers
– 8 Channel Music Sequencing 
– Type and Save Your Lyrics to Each Song 
– Easy to use interface.. 
– Send your song files to friends for collaboration

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

The Future of Learning To Play

capo3-logo-headerWell, I wrote about the future having arrived a few days ago when I wrote about NotateMe. I wasn’t kidding either and apparently a LOT of other people were very intrigued as well! Thanks for reading that post about the transformation from NEEDING a computer to being able to work ONLY with a mobile device in music.

Now let’s talk about the future of LEARNING how to play a piece of music. For thousands of years people have relied on learning how to play music by listening to it – they repeated sections of the piece over and over, repeating what someone played for them. Simple call and response, over and over. When learning someone else’s music this tradition has not died even now.

Now though, it is going to be a whole lot easier! If you have EVER worked on figuring out a song by ear you know how many hours it takes us! (OK, well at least me a few thousand others who are not blessed with the ability to play anything we hear by hear!) This app is going to save you hours!

Capo3 Small IconCapo has been out for a while now on a normal computer and is now up to version 3! Now Capo Touch Small IconCapo Touch available for those using iOS mobile devices!

In fact currently both the desktop version and the mobile versions are on 50% sale! So the time to buy them is now!

Capo3 Small IconCapo3 for the Mac – $14.99 (50% off normal price)

Capo Touch Small IconCapo Touch for iOS – $4.99 (505 of what the normal price will be soon!) [runs on both iPhone and iPad]

Let’s talk about what Capo is since most of us don’t know….


  • Automatic Chord detection – it will TELL you the chords for any song in your iTunes library! Doc Brown would have hated us having this tool available back when we were taking Ear Training and Music Theory back in college!
  • Slows Your Music – High quality time stretching engine that will slow that music down to a learnable pace!
  • Looping Regions – Play it again Sam! Over and over, slower if you like, until you get it!
  • Transposition – Now we can instantly change the key of the song!
  • Chord Boxes – For those of you who are guitar players (or teach guitarists) Capo will show you how to play those chords it has automatically detected AND if you transpose the song it transposes those chord boxes too!
  • Capo and Tuning Options – yup got those covered too for all you guitar players
  • Metronome, Count-Off, and Effects – Not sure where that beat is? Well turn the metronome on silly!
  • Beautiful Interface – Gives you a great experience browsing you music library to pick that next song to learn.
  • iCloud Syncing – Work on you iPhone while out and about and then when you pull out your iPad later everything will be in sync. Of course, since Capo is also available on a normal computer it syncs there as well!

There is at least one difference between the desktop version of Capo and the mobile. On the desktop version you are able to actually draw in notes on top of the spectrograph, just like you would in a piano roll on a MIDI sequencer. Then, after drawing those notes out, you will actually get TABS so that you can learn the part on your guitar.


I am impressed at all of the pro musicians they have who are backing this app too! Go ahead, click that picture below and read everything they are saying about it! Pretty cool. These are not just some ol’ teacher like me – these are people getting paid good money for the music they make!




Capo Pros Shot


The app currently has tabs, chords, and chord diagrams for guitarists. Which is awesome but I would love to see the ability to have music notation instead of tabs! Even if I could export what I have done in Capo as an XML file to use in Sibelius or another notation app it would be awesome. I currently am using Capo2 and the export function does not work very well – OK, actually I could never get it to do anything – UNTIL I imported the MIDI file into Sibelius. Once it imported into Sibelius I was able to see the notes I had drawn in. Of course it was not performance ready but it would give us non-guitar players something to look at that would be better than tabs. Now, if it would just export the chords as well!

Maybe the export functions are better in Capo3? If someone has v3 and could let me know it would be awesome!

If you are ever in need of an app to help you figure out how to play a song that you do not already have music for this is it!

In fact, this answers one of my issues I have with my own music – I play and record then I forget what I played and recorded! This app helps me solve that issue! Usually, I am composing in a DAW, like Cubasis or Logic and using audio recordings. Before this app there was no way for me to turn that audio back into any sort of notation to help me remember what in the world I played! Now, problem solved!

If you are a teacher, a performer, or an amateur musician, you would be crazy not to grab at least one of these if not both of them!

Capo3 Small IconCapo3 for the Mac – $14.99 (50% off normal price)

Capo Touch Small IconCapo Touch for iOS – $4.99 (505 of what the normal price will be soon!)



Remember – if you are inspired to purchase apps because of my blog, please click on my links 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.

iPad’s and Running Sound for Your Performances

dl1608-w-ipadAre you looking for a way to run sound for your live performances that will make your life easier? Are you in a situation like us where it never seems like there is a person to run the sound for the show?

Mackie may have the answer for you…. The Mackie DL 1608 or the DL806 are two sound boards that incorporate the use of an iPad to make running sound so much easier! The mixer has a space built in for you to slide your iPad right into it – the iPad then becomes the interface for all the controls on the mixers. In fact, you will not see the typical array of sliders and knobs that would normally be on a mixer because most of those have disappeared into the iPad. Remember though that the handwork of processing the mix, eq’s, compressors and limiters is still actually being handled by the mixer itself.

Here is the part that will blow you away… The iPad does not have to be docked to run the sound! Slide that baby right out of the dock and take the iPad where ever you want and the show will continue just like you were sitting back there in the back of the room like a normal sound person! That means that for those events when there is no sound person…. you simply hand the iPad to a student sitting in the front row playing clarinet, they run sound right from on stage. Maybe you run sound for the choir teacher but do it while you are sitting with your spouse in the audience.

Now, you do get a few additional features if the iPad is docked – the iPad will charge while running the show and you will be able to record the stereo main outputs. Which means, as soon as the show is done you can upload those recordings to the school website for the kids to review.

Check out the videos they have on YouTube – some are strange so be warned now, it IS Mackie we are talking about here!


Recording with My iPad and the Cubasis App (MIDI into Audio)

I thought it might be fun to explain a technique I use often when recording – even when it is just messing around.

When building a song,  I will often record audio tracks only but I have discovered that this leads to an issue! I find that using just audio gives me actually two big issues! 1)I forget what I played so when I go to add more to my composition I mess up and play things in wrong – especially 2-3 days later if I didn’t finish the first day! 2)When recording straight audio if I mess things up it means re-recording a large chunk again!

Today I want to tell you an easier way….

It’s simple – Use MIDI (of course we are talking virtual MIDI on the iPad).

Here’s what I mean…. I will load up Cubasis first in order to be ready to record. Then I open one of the many different music apps I have and start messing around. When I’ve decided that I have something I like then I will set up the MIDI channels in that app so I know they are transmitting out of the app. Then I jump into Cubasis and create a MIDI track. I then set that track to listen to the information coming from the other app (which is as easy as picking it from the list) Then I hit record, jump into the other app and start playing. When I am done I can then go back into Cubasis and edit what I have played to my hearts content. When satisfied then I use Audiobus to take the audio coming from the other app and bring it into Cubasis as an audio track. Now, that does give me 2 tracks wight he same info on it – one is MIDI and the other Audio. I have to remember to mute the MIDI track otherwise it causes me confusion when I hear it playing the other apps later on in the process of building the rest of my composition.

I’ve made a video so you can see part of the process – You will see the MIDI tracks on track 1 & 3 and you will see that I am recording audio from the Thor app into track 2 (the MIDI being played from track one) and then I am also recording audio from Nave into track 5 (the MIDI being played from track three). I have the Thor and Nave apps open in the background both with background audio turned on (this is a very important step you will not want to miss!)

I do have to say that I could NOT have done this on my iPad2, I am currently using an iPad Air and have not had the audio issues I used to have with the slower processor. I have no idea how smoothly this would work on an iPad3 or iPad4. Of course I am very excited to hear Apple’s WWDC live cast Monday to see what interesting advances in technology they will be wowing us all with!

If you have question leave me a comment and I will get back to you…. Here is the video…. (By the way, if you can figure out the time signature for this let me know will ya?)



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