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

Notion on the iPad for Band Directors (or anyone actually!)

notiononiPadIf you are using an iPad and you also need to use a music notation program, I would hope by now that you are aware of Notion for the iPad. Of course Notion is not JUST for the iPad though. That is actually one of the beautiful things about this app!  You can have it on your laptop and your iPad making it all that more flexible! Another great feature is the price – $99 for the full computer version and $15 for the iPad version. Compare that to other notation software and I think you will agree that it is a bargain! I will start out with a word of warning about the size of this app! It is going to require a large amount of space because of one feature that also makes it stand out it the selection of notation apps available. Notion gives you the ability to compose, edit, and playback scores using real audio samples performed by the London Symphony Orchestra recorded at Abbey Road Studios. That does mean large app sizes! This in it self is enough of a reason for music teachers to never even consider a 16GB iPad – in fact a 32GB is questionable as a teacher!

OK, OK you say – let’s get to the good stuff…..

Here is how I was exploring Notion tonight as a Band Director getting ready for Band Camp:

STEP ONE – First of all I am a Sibelius user ever since version 2. I also use Finale (ever since it came out) but Sibelius is my main choice. So as I prepare for Band Camp I take my parts for the marching show that have been scanned into PDF files and I use PhotoScore to read my PDF files, one part at a time, into Sibelius. The ability in PhotoScore to read from a PDF is a huge benefit. i used to have to have one TIFF file for PhotoScore and then a PDF for my iPad. No longer. It takes me about 10 minutes a part to get from PDF to Sibelius and that includes fixing errors in PhotoScores reading of the PDF. Then I combined all the parts into one score. When I get done the Sibelius parts look just like the ones I bought – dynamics and articulations and everything else.

STEP TWO – Thank goodness that the notation world is buying into Music XML because it really is making life easier and makes sharing this Sibelius score I have created easier these days! I simply exported an XML file of the score from Sibelius and emailed it to myself.

STEP THREE – I grab my iPad, open my mail app, tap on the attachment and select “Open in Notion”

STEP FOUR – Notion opens the XML file and wa la – it’s all there! It’s like magic! The score looks pretty much exactly like it did in Sibelius!

So now I have a very flexible score of my marching show on my iPad. I can edit this score – change parts, whatever I would like to do and even print it from Notion. When listening to the playback of the score it sounds so much better than using Scorch (I will post about Scorch later).

Here are a few tips though that it took me a bit of digging around to figure out….

Let’s look at the score as it showed up –

Imported XML Score
Imported XML Score


The screen acts as yo would expect – you can scroll through, play it, edit it etc.

The next thing I dug into was the settings (the gear icon) and I discovered Continuous View – I like this view on the iPad. It simply is one long scroll from left to right. You can see from the screenshot below that there is a yellowish bar on the left of the screen to indicate that you are in this view.

Notion 2 Continuous View

Now as a Band Director I almost panicked when I could not figure out how to display individual parts but it is there in the settings under view….

Notion 3 View settings


Tap on Dynamic Parts and there is the list I was looking for – allowing me to select any individual part I wish to see by itself.

Notion 4 Parts

Upon selecting the Flute part for instance, this is what you would get….

Notion 5 Flute Part


Now there was one setting I actually had to go in and take care of that for some reason did not come through in the XML import of the score. I had to dig in and select the correct playback instrument for SOME of the parts. Some parts were already done for me – like the flute and clarinet. But the trumpets and trombones were not. Here is a screenshot of that process… Go into the settings, and select SCORE SETUP (Not Parts Settings as I did – that is page layout stuff!)

Notion 6 Setting instruments


simply tap the blue arrow and you get this ability to SWITCH INSTRUMENT for that Part…

Notion 7 Selecting Instrument


The last item I am going to mention is that I found it rather interesting that I had to pay extra for an Alto Sax sound! I know Notion wanted to keep some sounds out of the original download because of file size. Plus not everyone is going to need a mandolin or banjo sound and having to pay extra to get a “section” sound of trumpets makes sense to me as an extra. An Alto Sax, Tenor Sax and Bari Sax sound seems pretty basic to me though! Each sound is .99 cents though so it’s not THAT big of an expense.

I have to pay for an Alto Sax sound?
I have to pay for an Alto Sax sound?


I choose to enter all my music into Sibelius first because I am so fast using that app. I think there are many music teachers out there that fall into this category besides me. Being able to import that XML file is huge! It makes it nice that I do not have to enter everything into Notion on the iPad but I can still end up with a music notation file on my iPad that I can use from there.

REALITY – The real question is this – How much am I going to use this? Well I’m not so sure that I will actually end up doing much editing of the music in Notion for iPad. I absolutely feel that having the Notion file is so much better than using a PDF version of the music! Of course I will have to play around this marching season to compare having the Notion file versus simply using Sorch for iPad (which reads the Sibelius file and displays the notation but will not allow editing of that file. Scorch is simply for viewing and playing back the notation file)

CON – Marching Band Directors are not going to be happy with playback of the drumline! Of course I am not happy on my laptop unless I have Virtual Drumline from TapSpace playing! Thank goodness both Sibelius and Finale now use a few of the sounds from Virtual Drumline in their basic soundsets available for everyone.  BUT the ability for us to now at LEAST view that notation on our iPads is HUGE! (In a much cleaner and more flexible version than PDF) Of course the Drumline parts take much longer to actually enter into Sibelius so you really have to weigh the time against the benefit. It takes me about 5 minutes to pull out the printed drumline parts, walk down the hall to the scanner at school and scan those into PDF format. In the time it takes me to get back to the Band Room I can pull my iPad out and have those PDF’s pulled out of my Mail app and into ForScore or UnRealBook or GigBook. I still question the benefit of taking the time to dump drumline parts into Sibelius for use on my iPad in Scorch or Notion. There is no doubt in my mind about the benefit of putting wind parts in because I also end up creating SmartMusic files and testing the students on their marching music through SmartMusic. (Again using XML as the way to get Sibelius files turned into Finale files to convert to SmartMusic)

I would love to hear from other directors who are using their iPads on the Marching Band field and in music rehearsals for Marching Band! LEave comments below!


Creating Condensed Scores in Sibelius (or hiding staffs you don’t need to see)

Viewing notation files and scores on the iPad is a very useful feature to have. Thankfully Sibelius has Scorch and Finale has Finale iPad Music Viewer available. There are considerations to take into account though when creating scores to transfer over to the iPad. Things like the screen is smaller! Boy would I like that larger prototype iPad that has been floating around the web! Because that screen is smaller though there is a need to get rid of any extra music that I don’t really need to see.

When I create scores in Sibelius there are almost always extra staves that I do not always need to see. For instance, I don’t always need to see the Baritone BC because I might only need to see the TC part. Maybe I have two versions of the Bass Drum Line, one with four drums and one with three. I need both but only want to see one when I conduct from my iPad or when I print out the score. There are always those instruments that double another instrument, especially in middle school literature. Maybe using condensed is not the correct terminology.

CREATE NEW PART/SCORE – Basically what you have to do is create a new part from the parts window. Open that window, click on the blank piece of paper at the bottom of that window. This brings up a spot for you to pick which parts are to be included in this new, smaller score. After picking the parts to include then you need to rename this new part. The next step confused me for a very long time.

INSTRUMENT NAMES – Once you are looking at your new smaller score you will notice right away that there are not instrument names at the start of your score and instrument abbreviations at the start of each page. This is not acceptable. To fix this issue you will make a trip to the Engraving Rules menu, click on the Instruments option in the list on the left. In that box you will then find the options to view names at the start of the score and the start of each new page. Keep in mind that these options are ONLY for this new part.

LAYOUT – Another thing you will probably want to do is to have a different Document layout for the FULL score containing all the parts and a different Document layout for the smaller score that only contains some of the parts. Not a problem. Simply make a trip to the Document Setup dialogue while viewing each score and make the appropriate settings. I find that portrait mode works better for the full score and then many times I prefer landscape mode for the smaller score.


Sibelius Percussion Part Tips

When entering Marching Band Drum Line parts I have a few tips that might make your life easier. I think they fit into that category of “things I know Sibelius can do but how do I make it do it?”

BASS DRUM STEM DIRECTIONS – (Click on the thumbnails to the right for larger pics) Marching Bass Drum parts usually have all the stems going up. The stem direction after inputting your notes will not be all going up though! To fix this you have to wade through a few dialogue boxes. 1)Go into the House Style menu and Edit Instrument. Find the instrument you are using for the Bass Drums staff and click on it once then click the Edit Instrument button. If you picked the correct instrument and your score is currently open then you should get an error message stating that the instrument you are about to edit is currently being used. Click the OK button. 2)Now go to Edit Staff Type  3)go to the Notes and Rests tab. 4)Find the option that says stems always up. Now you have to hit enter three times to exit out of the edit boxes but you should be in business.

1)  2)  3)  4)


CHANGING 4 DRUM PARTS to 3 DRUM PARTS – Changing from 4 part Bass Drums to 3 Part Bass Drums can be easy. You may have to tweak a few ideas here and there but this is an easy and quick method. My BD part is using notes F, A, C & E from the bottom up. I’ve got the 4 part music input and now I need to print 3 part music for my kids. Add another Bass Drum part to your score, Select the entire 4 drum part (triple click in the first measure) and copy it down to the new 3 BD part (hold down the option key and click on the first measure of the new part). Now comes the magic! Keep the entire part selected and go to the Edit Menu – Filter – Advanced Filter (while you are there learn the sort cut!) Now select the option for Notes or Chords with at least 2 notes in them and then go down and change the Pitch section to single E any octave. Then click the select button on the bottom. Check out the screen shot….

Now double check your music and make sure that only the top notes in spots where you have “chords” in the BD part are selected.

If that is true then it is time to get rid of those top notes… hit the delete key.

Now select the entire line of music again, use the advanced filter once more but this time change the notes/chords with at least option to only 1 instead of 2 like last time. Hit the select button. Check your music… you should now only have the high bass drum part (the E space) selected. Now simply hit the down arrow twice. Now the rhythms that the top note BD were to play will be played by the 3rd BD. Now you may want to alter this technique a little, maybe you want to get rid of the bottom note, so use the idea to get the results you desire. There may be a few spots where you need to alter pitches to keep enough movement going.


Now it is time for me to go to Drum Line Sectionals! Afterwards I will give you a tip on how to make only one of those Bass Drum parts show up in your score.

AirDisplay App Thoughts and MobileMouse Pro

I have seen an app called AirDisplay, read reviews about it and thought about the app for a long time now. I have always thought that it was an interesting concept but never could convince myself to try it out. The app has been pretty steady in price, about ten dollars. This past week I finally gave it a go. So let me tell you my thoughts….

First of all, let me fill your in on the app purpose. The purpose of this app is to give your computer a second display. That display can be your iPad, iPhone, a Mac or a PC. It really is pretty slick. If you are not used to running two monitors it does take some getting used to the idea of what is going on. In other words, I could use my iPad as the second display. Then I could have my laptop showing a report I am working on and my iPad running preview showing a PDF that I am taking information from. Maybe you want to keep an iChat window up on your iPad or iTunes while you create a keynote for your next days class. Maybe you want to run Sibelius and put all the little tool bars over on your iPad so you can have the entire laptop screen for the music.

This last situation is what caught my attention as being possibly useful to me. It has always annoyed me that my laptop does not have a number pad when I work in Sibelius. So figured that maybe I could just put the keypad over on my iPad and touch whatever note value I wanted. AirDisplay does support touch.20120702-232913.jpg

Does it work? It actually does work very well, kind of. The iPad and laptop work well together. I can drag my keypad to my iPad and use touch to control the note values. There is not that much of a lag when working on the iPad at all. The problem is that my fingers are WAY to fat! There is. No way to change the size of the keypad and there is no way to change the resolution on the iPad. I thought that maybe when I used the iPhone the keypad would fill the screen more. I was wrong, the keypad was WAY smaller on the iPhone! I can of course use the mouse and click on the keypad and it all works great but my purpose is to keep my hands off the mouse to work faster.


The app does exactly what it says it will do. If you want a second display for your computer then this app would work really well! Plus it would save y from filling your desk like you see in the picture below! Just beware of what size things will be on the iPad and especially the iPhone!

I should offer an alternative to this situation though. I do have an alternative that works very well so it would not be fair to not share would it? 🙂

I have been using an app called MobileMouse Pro ever since I only had an iPod Touch, no iPad or iPhone. This app works wonderfully! It is a remote control for your mouse and your computer. It has several different ways you can set it up to be useful. I have it loaded on my iPhone and use it in the same situation as I mentioned above while using Sibelius. I simply pull up the number pad mode in the MobileMouse app and I am all set. Now I can select the note values using my phone and type in notes with my other hand. The app also has modes to control your cursor, just drag the cursor around with your thumb or use the accelerometer for a really fun time! You tip the phone to the right and the mouse goes to the right, tip the phone down and the cursor goes lower…. There are also ways to set up specific hotkeys for specific apps. I have a SmartMusic setting where I can start SmartMusic, stop it, change songs, turn the metronome on and off, turn the accompaniment on or off and other things just by tapping a button in MobileMouse. I would highly suggest MobileMouse! In fact I should do a post on it soon!

If any of you have used AirDisplay and have found a great way to incorporate it into your workflow I would love to know what you are doing! Leave a comment!

Very Exciting Prospects in iPad Music Notation

I was contacted by developer about their app Symphonix Evolution. This is one more app entry into the music notation category.

This app does something new that I have been waiting for in a music notation app. It allows me to hit the record button, play the keyboard and then I get music notation! This is the really exciting news! I’ve been waiting for this capability since I bought my first iPad. I just figured that it would be either Finale or Sibelius that would make it happen first!

The bad news is that the notation that is the result of such a recording makes me remember the first time I ever saw a music notation app back when I was in college (think late 80’s!) Now don’t get me wrong, we were pretty excited about the capabilities back then as well! The problem is that there are some weird rests that end up needing to be edited out. There are some weird rhythms that show up too, things that no musician would want to read. Of course technically these things are all correct, that’s exactly what I played – it’s just not what I want to see. Software notation programs have come a long ways since the 80’s! Now we are spoiled! We get to use Sibelius, record a part, and have Sibelius interpret it for us into a sensible piece of music.

What makes me so excited about what is going on here is that if Symphonix Evolution can make this happen then I KNOW Finale and Sibelius are hard at work doing their magic too!

Back to Symphonix Evolution. I think that this app holds promise for use in a music class. It is a 16 track sequencer, MIDI is fully supported, Music XML support is coming soon as well. You can also input notes one at a time to get exactly the look you want from the beginning. There is much potential here. Here is a YouTube video that talks about some of the features.

I will also say that this app does not feel like a polished app. There were many times I was left frustrated about a button that would not work well (probably because of my fat fingers) or else I had to sit there pushing a few different buttons to try to figure how to do something. There were times I just couldn’t figure out how to do something, which after using the app for a while I’m sure would not be a problem. But students in a music class are going to have the same thoughts and frustrations as I did.

One other downfall I believe is that the app is $12.99. This is a pretty high price in my eyes.

I’m not sure where this app falls in my list of useful or not useful. Of course in my situation, I own Sibelius. So if I want to create music notation I am going to be doing that on my Mac. If I had students that did not own Sibelius though I might suggest this app. It does not take up the absurd amount of space that Notion does, that’s for sure! Of course this app does support MIDI files. That means there are a zillion MIDI files on the web that students could be downloading, importing into Symphonix Evolution and turning into musical notation for further study. All on an iPad!

iOS Music Apps Weekend

I just received an email from about their Christmas by Newzik app. If you like singing and playing Christmas songs form your iPad this app could be worth checking out. Especially since it will be free on the 18th and 19th of December, 2011. Notion’s notation app is only $0.99 until the 21st of December.

If you have not heard about the new music notation app from Notion you should head over to and read ChoirGuys comparison of Notion to SymphonyPro. The fact that Notion actually has a notation software for Mac and Windows means that the iPad is going to be looked at as a viable option for creating music notation from. I would love to have this app and a set of iPads in the hands of students!

ChoirGuy also mentions that one of the apps I’ve used in the past for accessing my PDF music on my iPad is soon coming out with an update. DeepDish GigBook is adding annotation to their app. This means that this app will be as useful to musicians, students, performers and educators as ForScore and UnRealBook!

I have been using Avid Scorch’s iPad app Scorch through this Christmas season while performing and rehearsing for our Christmas concerts. I have really liked the ability to be able to pull up any one individual part at any time. I also appreciate the fact that Scorch does not rely on scanning quality. The score you are seeing is of great quality! The lack of annotation has been an issue though. I’ve really wanted to mark my scores up during rehearsal so I would remember certain key elements but I’ve not been able to do that while using Scorch. I wonder if Avid could figure out a way for us to even highlight something in the Scorch files. (Are you out there Tom?)

I will be glad to see Sibelius come out with an iPad notation app in the future. I’m sure it will happen. In the mean time Notion and Symphony Pro serve the purpose for that gap. Of course you should buy Notion now! Along with Newzik’s Christmas app.

UPDATE: As you can see from the comments before it was brought to my attention that Notion could be a large app! So I took a look at the size’s and download times. When I started downloading Notion onto my iPad it was 6:58. at 7:28 I finally stopped the iPad download! It wasn’t done for some reason 30 minutes after I started it! I just copied it onto my iPad from iTunes – that took almost 5 minutes just to do that! When I started putting Notion onto my iPad I had 5.6GB free and now I have 3.8GB free. So this app is going to take up a lot of space compared to other iPad apps. Almost makes me fell like I am working with a desktop application!

I will say that the playback on Notion is very nice. I am sure this is the reason for the large file size of the app. Notion is very simple to use and pretty quick to get notes into the app too. You get 5 string instruments, 9 woodwinds, 6 brass, 4 keyboards , 3 guitars, a Drum set, Tamborine, Snare Drum, Sus. Cym, Cr. Cym, Bass Drum, Timpani and a Xylophone for free that come installed. There are four more stringed instruments you can download for free. There are a bunch of other instruments that will cost you $0.99 to download. You get basically one of every instrument you might need.

As I was entering notes I did notice that Notion will allow you to enter more beats per measure than your time signature is set for. This was a bit weird as I am used to working with Sibelius where this isn’t allowed. This means that students could end up with some messed up music!

It was very different as I went to enter notes into a trumpet part the first time too. Even though I was playing a B on the keyboard Notion was writing a C# on the music. I did not expect this as the Key Signature for all the staves were the same. I understand that a Trumpet should be a whole step higher than the piano but at the same time the key signature should be different as well. I had to go in and set the Key Signature before the Trumpet key appeared different.

There are some very nice technique markings that Notion has included. For instance flutter Tongue on trumpet. Those markings playback as well.

Using your iPad and PDF’s to make music in the classroom more efficient.

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. (

So the moral of the story? PDF files for all! Life should be easier and more fun!

Sibelius and Scorch for the iPad

I am currently at Band Camp and working hard. I am driving those kids hard too! The more tired at night the better is my philosophy!

On Saturday before I left I put my band camp scores that I had already done in Sibelius onto my iPad so I could boot up Scorch for the iPad and use that while at camp. Well come to find out it did not work! I could not see all my parts. Some of the instruments at the very bottom of the score were not there! I emailed Sibelius people and sent them files so they could see what was going on. They responded quickly, that says tons for how much they care about their users!

Come to find out you MUST make sure EVERY instrument in your Sibelius score MUST be labeled with a different name. So if you have two trumpet lines you should name one Trumpet 1 and the other Trumpet 2. Make sure you also check the abbreviation for each instrument as well. With that fix my scores are working wonderfully in Scorch. I love having my music in Sibelius. I am now able to do fun and practical things like take the french horn part and create a trombone part so I can play along with my freshman french horn players on my trombone without transposing! I printed out tab parts for my bass player.

With Scorch on my iPad it is a cinch to go from looking at the full score to looking at any specific part and only that part. It is way easier than trying to play along with the students and turning pages on a score! Plus when I am in sectionals it is so nice to be able to just focus on one part and not see the whole score if I don’t want to!


Sibelius 7

I saw a post that Sibelius 7 was out. Excitedly I went to their website and started downloading the trail of the new version. I didn’t even read what was new! I just hit download. After the software was downloading then I started reading the new updated features. Several items jumped out at me –
1)Redesigned UI
2)Improved sound library – This is a huge item. Right now I have purchased several other sound libraries in order to make my scores sound as good as possible. This is a hassle to have to keep these other libraries updated and running and incorporate them into Sibelius. It’s just one additional step. The new updated sounds may make that extra step go away. We will have to wait to see as I’m not really seeing a way to try them out. There are a few sound bytes – I’m not very impressed by them though.
3)The inclusion of XML. Previously if you wanted to send files back and forth between that other notation program and Sibelius you would have to spend several hundred dollars and purchase an XML Dolet. Now Sibelius comes with XML support both directions you can import AND export.
There are other improvements as well – those 3 were what jumped out to me though. When you visit their web-stie you can see the other new and “improved” features.

I will give you my first impression of the new version since I first downloaded it and opened it. “Oh, No!” That’s all I can keep thinking. The new UI is so different. Some of the old keyboard shortcuts are changed and things are in different places and it all looks different. The new mixer is hard to read because the font size is so small. Now I have sat back the last few days and listened to people complain about Apple’s Lion. I like Lion. This new version of Sibelius may be the same thing – I just might need to get used to it. I do have to say though that this might be the first time I have not upgraded to the newest version of Sibelius though. I for sure know that I will not be upgrading immediately like I thought I would – I am in the middle of preparing for Band Camp and I think the upgrade would just slow me down. I really want to get all my music into Sibelius this year. That would allow me to use Scorch for iPad! But…….. WOW! (big sigh….)

I will keep trying the new update – I strongly suggest you go download the free 30 day trial and try it out for yourself!

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