As a musician, you have a lot of gear to carry. Add sheet music to that, and you could hurt your back. But in this iPad review, I’ll share a few ways you can use an iPad to lighten your load.
Not only can you use an iPad for sheet music, but you can also use it as a tuner. You can buy digital files or scan paper music, and you can keep everything in one place.
Keep reading this iPad review to learn more about using an iPad as a musician.
The Best iPad for Musicians
You can choose from a lot of iPads on the market. Of course, there’s the standard iPad, but there’s also the iPad Air and the iPad Pro, which comes in two sizes.
For some people, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is ideal to use as a musician. But the 9.7 and 10.2-inch models work well too. You should consider if you want the biggest screen or if you want something a little more portable.
Your budget may also determine what iPad is best for you. The standard iPad screens are big enough for reading sheet music and analyzing scores, but you should avoid the iPad mini.
While it’s great for reading eBooks, the screen is too small for sheet music and other music-related things.
iPad Review: Apps for Musicians
If you want to use an iPad for music, you should have a few apps ready to go. For this iPad review, I’m going to focus on apps that are most helpful for classical musicians, but musicians in other genres can use this info too.
Here are some of my favorite iPad apps that you should download as a musician.
The app forScore is a sheet music reader, and it’s probably the best in that category. You can import PDF files with your sheet music, and you can annotate them like you would a paper score.
The app has categories you can use to organize your sheet music. I organize my files by composer, genre, and instrument. You can also use the search bar to find individual files.
If you want to learn more about forScore, check out my in-depth review of it for everything you can do with the app.
Another favorite of mine is the IMSLP app. It’s another sheet music reader, and it’s the app version of the IMSLP website. You can search for sheet music by composer, or you can browse the library.
IMSLP provides free sheet music as long as it’s in the public domain. However, a few lesser-known living composers have uploaded their scores as well.
You can use IMSLP as your main sheet music reader, or you can use it mostly to search for music. I’ve also written more about the IMSLP app and website.
Symphony Pro 5
If you want to use your iPad to compose or arrange music, you need a good notation app. I use and love Symphony Pro 5, which offers a variety of instruments.
You can create tracks for multiple instruments, so it’s great for writing solos or chamber music. There’s an onscreen piano you can use to make sure you write the correct note, but you can also touch the notes in the staff.
The app lets you set the key signature and time signature, and you can change them later. Once you finish working on a project, you can export the score, parts, and audio.
While it doesn’t seem music-related a good scanner app is essential. I have tons of print sheet music, and I use my iPad as a scanner to make those into digital files.
That way, I can play any piece in my sheet music library, but I can do it all on my iPad. Tiny Scanner lets me scan as many pages as I need to, and you can store files in the app. Then, I’ll export them to forScore so that I can use them like paper scores.
You can search for scanner apps, but I just wanted to share my favorite for this iPad review.
Every musician needs a tuning app. While forScore and IMSLP have tuners, they aren’t as reliable as a dedicated tuning app. I’m not sure why, but maybe the other apps have more features to prioritize.
Either way, Tunable is a great app to use as a tuner and metronome. Even if you don’t use digital sheet music, a tuner is an essential app on an iPad for musicians.
And if you do use your iPad for sheet music, you won’t have to worry about carrying an extra piece of gear. You can just use your iPad to make sure you’re in tune as you warm up for a rehearsal.
If you want to buy digital sheet music, you should check out the Henle Library app. Henle is a popular publisher, and they have started creating digital versions of their paper scores.
You can download a score for free when you sign up, but they only give you a few options. After that, you’ll need to buy credits with real cash. Then, you can use the credits to buy sheet music.
You can use the app’s sheet music reader, but you can also export the music or print it. To export it to another app, act like you’re going to print the music. Then, pinch on the file so that it opens to full screen. You should have the option to share it.
This app is by the publisher Barenreiter, and it’s another great sheet music app. You use real cash to buy sheet music, and you can find study scores. It’s a great option if you need to study the entire score of an orchestral piece.
Like with Henle, you can get a free score when you get the app. Then, you can get a sense of the features before you buy a score.
I haven’t used this app as much as some of the others, but I thought it was worth mentioning for this iPad review. If you’re interested in owning digital copies of scores, you should check out the Study Score app.
Tips and Tricks
Using an iPad for music can be weird at first. If you’ve always used paper files to read and analyze sheet music, you will have to get used to the screen.
To make annotating sheet music easier, you should invest in an Apple Pencil or another stylus. It will be easier to make notes with a pen of sorts than with your finger.
You can also experiment with a Bluetooth foot pedal to turn pages during a performance. However, keep in mind that the Bluetooth connection may have issues, so you should also practice turning pages by tapping the screen.
Did you enjoy this iPad review? Do you use an iPad as a musician? What are your favorite apps? Comment below!