Sibelius and PhotoScore Pro

Well I just found out that PhotoScore Pro does NOT like reading in mallet parts that have rolls in them! PhotoScore also does not like to read in the stuff from the bottom of the parts either! I wish it wasn’t there! I just end up having to delete it any ways and re-type it.

In order to go through all the wind parts and have PhotoScore read the TIFF files – it is taking me about two hours per piece. I wonder if I could just play them in by using the keyboard this fast? there are still too many errors that are having to be fixed. Of course if I did like they said and actually scanned the parts in as grayscale it would be better I’m sure. I am using the school copier though – and I think it will only do black and white. Boy does it do them fast too! I can have all the parts scanned AND emailed to myself in a matter of like 60 seconds! Try doing it that fast on your personal copier/scanner!

I think that I am really going to like having Scorch – it does mean this extra work up front but when it is done I will have really good looking music on my iPad – I will be able to pull up anyones part in an instant or switch back to the score. I wish that JWPEPPER would just sell me the Sibelius file! I’m sure someone has to know how to copy protect it!

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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

New thought on Digital Music

You know for years I have been slowly putting my Concert Band music into Sibelius. This has allowed me to manipulate the music in many different ways for different reasons. Like re-writting parts for missing instruments, changing parts because of ability level or simply quickly being able to re-print a part when one goes missing for whatever reason.

The new thought I had came to me today while a middle school band was sitting waiting to rehearse. I was sitting waiting for Sibelius to do its start up routine when it hit me that this process could be made even quicker! All I needed to do was print all the individual parts, combine them into one PDF file then I could simply QUICKLY open that PDF file, find the correct part and hit print! This would cut out a few of those moments that allowed middle school kids to “loose it”.

So my new process is this – Step 1 )Input music into Sibelius.   Step 2)Put the Sibelius file, a PDF file with all the parts in it, and a PDF file of the score all into one folder.   Step 3) Put the PDF file of the score into my DropBox folder with all my current scores in it.    Step 4)Put PDF score onto my iPad

If you do not yet have a DropBox account you need to Drop everything you are doing and go sign up for one by the way!

Notation on the iPad

Notation, as in actually creating an editable score right on the iPad! Where did I miss this? Here is the first paragraph from their website:

 

“Symphony Pro is the long-awaited music notation & composition application for your iPad. Importing and exporting your projects is a breeze, and with the built-in keyboard, creating new compositions just as easy.”

I think that is vitally important to note the fact that this program will do Music XML. This means ti will “talk”, to some degree, to Sibelius and Finale. We sure don’t really need ONE MORE standard out there. Plus I have a zillion Sibelius files already around. I wonder how well I will be able to still access those Sibelius files when I stop using my laptop?

Here is the link to their website…. http://www.symphonypro.net/

The app costs $12.99

 


Scanning Scores for my iPad

Ok – just a quick note….. I’ve been scanning new scores for viewing on my iPad all fall. Each of these multiple page scores have been coming in at about 3 to 5 MB. I forgot how much smaller scores are when simply printed from Sibelius until this morning. Using Sibelius, I finished inputting notes and rewriting parts for my Jazz Combo and emailed a PDF to myself. When I looked at the file size I was REALLY surprised to find the file size to be 225KB! WOW!

Marching Season is Almost over

During marching season I used my iPad in my high school marching band all the time. I used it for score reading, my drill was on it, schedules, locker numbers and combinations were looked up on it and many other things. Like listening to a movie and music on a few of the band trips while riding the bus. Here are my thoughts.

POSITIVES: I love having my music all in this one little device! I am able to read all my marching scores just fine, sometimes I need to zoom in but that is easy to do quickly. I am also reading Jazz Combo and Middle School Concert Band scores just fine. I did still mess up the scanning part of several of the scores while getting it onto my iPad this sumer though. Some of the scans were too big and turning pages just simply was NOT fast enough in a couple of my scores.

I was excited that UnReal Book had incorporated a “shake to turn” feature. Excitedly, I turned it on and explored using that feature. Of course I then forgot about it being turned on until the next day in class. I was playing along with the bass drums and had my iPad sitting on the drum and the pages kept turning by themselves. I could not figure out why. It would flip pages that day while I was conducting too…. while holding the iPad with one hand and conducting with the other. I thought the vibrations from the bass drum had hurt my iPad – it wasn’t until eating lunch and thinking (read as worrying) about this that I remembered that I had turned on the shake to turn feature. Boy was I relieved!

I have been printing PDF scores from Sibelius as well as Logic Studio. Those continue to work really well.

Keeping schedules, lockers and combinations, uniform assignments and all that sort of stuff on my iPad proved invaluable because it meant I did not have to go running for the laptop.

I have been creating Keynote (powerpoint for you windows people out there) files  for use every day in class. I am actually liking doing this using the iPad better than using the laptop. I use Keynote for announcements, daily rehearsal information and anything we do in class that is music theory work. Like working the kids through Major scales and the intervals, terms, patterns and review/quiz work on that sort of stuff. We have a set of Turning Point clickers I use with Keynote to get instant feedback on how well kids are understanding the information taught in class. That information is in the form of a slide in keynote that they respond to with their clicker. Then at the end of class I grab the laptop and print out a report with each students response listed that then gets put into the grade book.

ISSUES: I am not able to give up the laptop though. I really like the bigger screen space for some things. For other tasks, like creating scores and recording music in Logic there just simply isn’t a great way to do that on the iPad yet.

Our school network is still giving me problems though with using Feedler to read my google news feeds as well as using Evernote. Neither one of these programs work with the firewall we have. Considering that I am one of four iPad users in the whole RESD, I don’t see those issues getting fixed.

WISHES: I can see the HUGE benefit to having bought the 3G version of the iPad. Of course I couldn’t wait the extra time, I JUST HAD TO HAVE the iPad the day it came out! So I bought the wi-fi version. The biggest issue is that I am not going to pay a data plan for an iPad AND my cell phone both. So… for now I’ll live.

New Music Possibilities on the iPad!

Wow, the school year has started with a bang this year! There are so many different ideas that are floating around my band room in comparison to previous years. I am finding a ton of different ways to create and interact with music. My students eyes are being slowly opened to the idea that there is a whole new exciting world of possibilities that they want to be a part of.

For this post I will focus on two apps for the iPad and one other app for the Mac that I have been playing around with in the past week. In my “free time”, which means everyone else has gone to bed in the family and I have time to explore.

The first app is called Mugician by Rob Felding. I found this app because I had started searching through YouTube for Musc Tech Ensembles. One search led to another and I found Jordan Rudess, again, playing Mugician on his iPad. I went to this website, http://rrr00bb.blogspot.com/2010/08/mugician-heiroglyphics.html, did a LOT of reading. I bit the bullet and bought it. I couldn’t resist, it was such an interesting new innovative way to create and interact with creating music. It seemed to be way too much fun! Turns out that is exactly what it is, fun! The concepts are all explained on Rob’s website and in videos on the web. Watch them and read the directions because this app is not one of those immediately easy to use apps. The layout makes sense but you have to think about it for a bit first. The controls at the bottom are a bugger at first to figure out how to use! But man have I enjoyed playing on this app. It is a fresh approach and different from let’s say piano. I love the sound it generates, although every now and then the reverb/delay gets out of control. We WILL be using this app in our schools new electric/acoustic ensemble we’ve got going.

Since I mentioned piano, I will admit that the next app was purchased because I am a piano player. I also use a keyboard to create music notation files in Sibelius ALL THE TIME! I’ve been looking at purchasing a small 25 key keyboard or a Korg NanoKey so that I can have keyboard easily accessible to do that work. I have several full size keyboards but it always seems a bit of a hassle to get the laptop and those hooked up to do notation. I have not actually made that purchase yet though because I had tried an app a year  ago on my iPod Touch that almost worked through wi-fi. There were a few issues with it though in that it kept dropping notes. Of course, me being so used to using a regular keyboard that is physically wired to the laptop probably meant that I was expecting a LOT from a wireless MIDI keyboard! Tonight I was reading http://techinmusiced.wordpress.com/ and noticed that “ChoirGuy” had Moo Cow Pianist Pro for his iPad and really liked it. I think that was exactly the sort of review I was looking for in a product like this. So I went to the app store on the iPad and clicked purchase. This is not a plug and play app so again I would suggest that you dig into the instructions and READ! (You know funny thing, reading and writing is what we were discussing tonight in our staff meeting at school!) After getting everything configured and played around with the program for about 30-45 minutes. I used the program by itself as well as hooking up through wi-fi to Garage Band, Logic Studio and Sibelius. There are some good possibilities here. I like the arpeggio generator, the scales section is great (some scales in there I had never heard of before – not that I’m a scale guru though!) and I like the effect/delay. I was disappointed in the selection of available sounds though. I have free music programs that have more sounds in them that are just as good of quality! The wi-fi is what I played with the most though. I have to say that it does connect, it does work. The problem is that it is not smooth enough and consistent enough to use it to play live piano parts. I had issues with it not playing EVERY note and there is a lag time that is annoying some times. I do plan on getting a hold of their tech support and reading on their forums to see if those issues can be fixed. I ABSOLUTELY plan on using the iPad and Pianist Pro with Sibelius ALL THE TIME NOW! The wi-fi works good enough for that step entry of notes. I really like not having to work in a contorted position with one arm way over on my keyboard and the other on my laptop!

If the dropping of notes gets fixed and the lag time can be fixed there are some sweet possibilities for this program!

One other program that I have been messing around with is Samchillian. It’s a weird name but do a google search for it and you will see that it is a weird looking instrument as well! Actually it is a controller. A MIDI controller. The interface is extremely different as well. It will take some time to get used to how to work this program but the person that does take the time to figure it out will be playing things not possible on a piano for instance! This program is free, you simply have to email the author, who is friends with Rob Felding who did the Mugician  app.

When I bought the iPad I knew I wanted to use it for my scores. I was pretty sure I would not be carrying around folders and books full of music anymore. Turns out the iPad does that job very well. I am using it this fall for High School Marching Band scores and it works wonderfully for that. BUT in my conversations with everyone I have time and time again used one line to describe my iPad that has bugged me. I keep telling people that the iPad IS NOT the best tool for CREATION of my music. I have wanted my LAPTOP for that job. BUT with these programs mentioned in this post and earlier posts I am starting to find apps that are GREAT for the CREATION of music AND these apps are not ones that I would have the same experience with on my laptop. The touch interactivity of the iPad is SWEET!

Music reading programs comparison for the iPad

I don’t really have a better title for this post. The programs I’m talking about don’t READ music but they let me read the music. These are really simply programs to manipulate PDF files.

I will start by saying that I have been using GoodReader to see my PDF files. I would take my music, scan it, turn that into a PDF and store it on in my DropBox. If you are not familiar with DropBox you need to go to their website and get an account. It allows me to have access to my files wherever I need it, as long as i have an Internet connection. I really like the way this worked because I never had to actually hook my iPad up to a computer to gain access to my files. The difference here is that when I would access a file from my DropBox, the file would be downloaded to the iPad. If I accessed a file on my DropBox from a computer, that file would be synced and would stay in DropBox. Changes I made to that file would then be seen on any other computer that I went to and accessed that file from. GoodReader never syncs changes, it simply downloads the file. In this case, since I am simply viewing my music/PDF files and not editing them, the way GoodReader works is not a drawback.

The pro side of GoodReader is easy access to my files. The biggest con is that GoodReader is not written FOR music.

The two other programs I have been playing with are UnReal Book and ForScore. Pros for UnReal Book are that it includes a music player built inti the program itself. This allows you to listen to music while playing along on your instrument. I like the visual cues that are left on the screen when in a setlist. I can quickly hit the buttons that take me back and firth between songs, I can also quickly find the button that brings up my setlist of songs. A huge benefit in this program is the ability to set hotspots. These will allow you to quickly jump to a repeat, d.s. Or d.c. Or a coda for instance. One Con in UnReal Book is the landscape mode. I really dislike the list of songs that does not go away when in his mode. I want to be able to use the entire screen for music. I like the zoom function on this program. I can zoom with a simple two finger movement just like in the photo program. Then a quick double tap in the middle of the screen takes the zoom back to the default.

Pros for ForScore are that the page turns are faster than the other two programs, and the biggest item is that there is the ability to write on your music. With the latest update there are
Several colors of pens, a marker and a highlighter. There is also a built in metronome that is both audible as well as visual. I also really like the page turn effects. There is one effect for turning the page and then if you are in a playlist there is a different effect for moving to the piece. One con in ForScore is the scrolling is still being worked on. For instance when I flip the ipad into landscape mode the music scales beautifully but when it is time to scroll, the page jumps a screenful at a time. I’ve been in contact with the programer and he assures me this is being worked on. It works but I’d rather be able to move the music a little at a time. Another con is that ForScore does not allow me to zoom in and look closer at what is on the screen. Not a problem until I get into a full band high school level score with lots of parts.

The biggest issue with these two programs is the quality of what is being displayed. I have used Sibelius to print out PDF files on my Mac for some of what I have been using the past three weeks. These files are pretty well displayed. The Euphonium music for the Community band I play in though has been scanned in. If I had only been using ForScore and UnReal Book i would have figured I needed to rescan at a different resolution. But since i also had been using GoodReader first I had read the music out of GoodReader for three or four rehearsals BEFORE I tried the other two programs. When I tried these scans in the other two programs I was dismayed at the bad quality. I went back and forth a bunch of times on a bunch of different songs because. I could not believe my eyes. In both the music programs it was bad enough that I did not trust myself using those programs for the concert that I played in tonight. I went back to GoodReader. Since i am writing this post on my iPad I’m not so sure i can upload the screenshots I took. To show you the difference but I I’ll upload them in the day or two.

My final verdict is that the quality and ease of accessing files in GoodReader, the hotspots from UnReal Book and the ability to write on the music with the great pages turns from ForScore all need to be combined into one program! I have hardly touched paper music in three weeks and have enjoyed every second of it. I had to laugh because when I was using the paper scores I found myself constantly trying to turn the pages by swiping them like on my iPad screen or just touching the corners and waiting for that nifty effect in ForScore. (it didn’t work)

A last thought is one if the most important I think. Both of the software developers for the two music programs have been very responsive and quick to communicate. Buy their programs and have fun.