iPad Pro vs. Regular iPad for Musicians

Do you want to lighten your load and use an iPad for sheet music? You should consider which model is the best iPad for musicians.

iPad Pro vs. Regular iPad for Musicians | Hannah B Flute

With everything from an iPad mini to a 12.9-inch Pro, you have a lot to compare. I’ll be focusing on the large Pro and the regular iPad to help you decide which is right for you.

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iPad Pro for Musicians

The iPad Pro comes in two sizes: 12.9 inches and 11 inches. If you’re going to get one to use for sheet music, the 12.9-inch model is better.

After using the regular iPad for almost three years, I decided it was time to upgrade to an iPad Pro. I went to the Apple Store to compare the two iPad Pro sizes in person and went with the bigger one.

A 12.9-inch iPad Pro is about the same size as print sheet music. It’s a little smaller than some music books but about the size of a sheet of US letter paper.

Of course, the iPad Pro is a bit big for most things. However, it’s a lot easier to read sheet music on compared to a regular iPad. The Pro features also make it a bit faster, so it’s good for more than just reading music.

Unfortunately, it is quite a bit more expensive than other iPads. You can find refurbished iPad Pros for a bit less, which is nice.

Pros

  • Big screen
  • Easy to view sheet music
  • Powerful device
  • Useful for many things

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Hard to take on the go

Who It’s For

An iPad Pro 12.9 is best for musicians who want to read sheet music easily. It’s also useful for other things, like watching music videos or even creating music without using your computer.

You can also connect it to a more recent Mac to use as a second screen. So if you teach online lessons or otherwise work a lot on a computer, it’s a good option to have.

Regular iPad for Musicians

I have the 6th generation iPad, and it works well for musicians. You can use it to read sheet music, but you might have to make some adjustments.

But if you’re willing to crop out white space and use landscape mode, a regular iPad may suit your needs. It met my needs for most of grad school as a flute performance major.

Another nice thing about this iPad is that it’s more portable than the iPad Pro. If you need to do score study, this iPad may be a better choice than the Pro. I have a couple of purses that the tablet fits in.

This iPad is less powerful than a Pro, which may be hard to deal with if you want to use an iPad for a lot of things. But it’s also more affordable, so it’s a good option if you want to experiment with using digital sheet music.

A regular iPad is also nice if you’re on a tight budget. The screen is a bit small, but you can make up for it and save for a more expensive model in the meantime.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • More portable
  • Good for beginners

Cons

  • Can be hard to read
  • Requires some adjustments
  • Not the most powerful

Who It’s For

A regular iPad is best for musicians who already have the tablet. It’s also a good choice if you’re on a tight budget. You can see if using digital sheet music is the right option for you.

I’d also recommend this model to students who do a lot of score study. You can hold the iPad closer to see the notes, so it’s easier to use. It’s also good for short-term use while you save up for a bigger screen.

What About the 11-inch iPad Pro?

The 11-inch iPad Pro is another option. However, it’s not that much bigger than a regular iPad for musicians and music reading. Physically, the 11-inch iPad Pro is actually smaller than the regular iPad.

You might be able to make notes a bit bigger with the smaller iPad Pro model. I would recommend splurging and getting the larger Pro. But if you already have an 11-inch iPad Pro, you can definitely use it.

Consider making some of the same adjustments as if you were to use a regular iPad or iPad Air for music. Then, you can get the most out of the screen size.

How Do the iPad Pro and Regular iPad Compare to Print Sheet Music?

When shopping for the best iPad for musicians, you should consider how the devices compare to print music. Then, you can make sure the investment in whatever tablet you select will be worth it.

Here’s a picture comparing the size of sheet music on my 9.7-inch iPad, 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and the print sheet music.

Do You Need an iPad Case?

You don’t need an iPad case or cover, but it’s nice to have. Most covers and cases let you prop up the iPad on the side. That can be nice if you need to practice and don’t have a music stand nearby.

I also bought a case for my iPad Pro that has a folder. I’m planning on using that to store print copies of music I get during ensemble rehearsals. That way, I don’t have to bring a long a folder as well.

Finally, an iPad case can help you recognize your device. If a lot of musicians you know use iPads, you can get a case that helps your stand out.

Should You Upgrade From a Recent iPad Model?

I’d wait at least a couple of years before upgrading to a new iPad. At least if you’re using it for sheet music, the screen size is the most important thing.

A lot of changes that happen year to year aren’t enough to make an upgrade worth it. But after a couple of years, the changes may be more significant.

How Else Can Musicians Use the iPad Pro?

When looking at the best iPad for musicians, you want to get your money’s worth. The iPad Pro is quite expensive, so you probably don’t want to just use it for sheet music.

You can use the iPad as a second display for your Mac. Other options include:

  • Watching videos
  • Checking email
  • Video chatting
  • Read textbooks
  • Record music

What About the iPad Air?

If you’re looking at the iPad Air, it’s pretty similar to a regular iPad for musicians. The screen size is a bit larger, but it’s nothing to write home about. An iPad Air is also more expensive than the regular iPad.

So before you spend more on an Air, save up for a Pro. That way, you can get the biggest available screen size to read sheet music.

What About the iPad mini?

Before buying a regular iPad, I had an iPad mini and would use it to sight read. I wouldn’t recommend it for anything other than that.

If you like to sight read something each day, it’s a good option. But if you want to use an iPad to perform, you need something bigger.

What’s the Best iPad for Musicians?

The best iPad for musicians can depend on the specific musician’s needs. After trying a 12.9-inch iPad Pro, I have to say that’s the best overall.

It has a large enough screen to read sheet music comfortably. Plus, it’s powerful enough to perform other tasks or even use instead of a laptop.

Do you have an iPad or want to buy one? Buy forScore and More to learn how to make the most of it for music!

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