Are you tired of carrying around a ton of sheet music? You might want to get a cheap iPad so that you can condense your load.
Using an iPad isn’t for everyone, and the cost can be particularly off-putting. But there are some solutions to help you save money on a tablet.
Use a Student Discount
One way to get a cheap iPad is to use your student discount. Apple usually has an education sale in August, so you can get an iPad before school starts.
If you’re still in college or grad school, I highly recommend checking it out. You might be able to save a few hundred dollars. Or you could get something for free that you can then sell to make some money back.
Aside from Apple, you can also go through your school bookstore. I did that when I was in community college, and it was super easy. At this point, an iPad is almost a music school necessity, so don’t be afraid to get one.
If you’re not in school anymore, shop around. Of course, Apple sells iPads, but so does Amazon, Best Buy, Costco, and other big box stores.
I’d recommend shopping around both online and in person. You might find that one store is slightly cheaper than another. Or if one store is out of stock of cheaper iPads, another might have them.
If you’re willing to risk the quality, you can even check the used market. As I mentioned, this can be a big risk. But if you’re careful, you might get a good cheap iPad.
Get a Regular iPad
I recently upgraded to an iPad Pro, but I used a regular iPad for almost three years. There are ways to make your music bigger, such as using landscape mode or cropping your files to get rid of the white space.
While I wouldn’t go back to the smaller screen, it did the job. If you really want to try an iPad for sheet music, test out the regular model. That line is significantly cheaper than the Pro line.
Of course, you can also look at the 11-inch iPad Pro. It’s a bit smaller than the 12.9-inch model, but I’ve heard it works well for some people. Plus, it’s a few hundred dollars cheaper than the biggest one.
Shop for Refurbished iPads
Another way to get a good cheap iPad is to look at the refurbished options. Apple has a whole section of refurbished products. Those models go through the same quality control process as new Apple devices.
I know Amazon also sells refurbished iPads. However, they might not hold their devices to the same high standards. So it’s probably safest to go with Apple when it comes to buying a refurbished tablet.
As of this writing, some models are available on the Apple website for $300 or more less than they’d cost new. Sure, they aren’t the newest model, but they can work well. I got a refurbished Mac a few years ago, and it was a great purchase.
Avoid the Newest Model
Apple usually maintains some stock of iPads that are a year or two old. So even if you want a new device (as in not used), you can look at an older model. I went with a slightly older iPad for the first three iPads I bought.
It wasn’t until I got my iPad Pro that I splurged on the newest version. Apple doesn’t make a ton of changes every year. That means you can get some good specs even if you get a cheap iPad.
Plus, if your main use case is music, you don’t need the latest and greatest. I know a couple of musicians with the earlier iPad Pros, and their devices still work well for their needs.
Save Accessories for Later
To make the most of your iPad for sheet music, I recommend some accessories. At the very least, you should get a case to protect the tablet. The Apple Pencil also comes in handy when marking your music.
However, accessories can be expensive, especially the Pencil. If you can’t get a super cheap iPad, focus on getting the tablet you need right now.
Then, you may need to be careful with it. But you can hold off on getting a stylus and case. Once you have a bit of extra cash, you can buy the accessories to help make your iPad easier to use for music.
Is a Cheap iPad Worth It for Music?
A cheap iPad can be well worth it if you want to read digital sheet music. I used a regular iPad that I got for less than $400 for almost three years.
While you might want to upgrade, a cheap iPad lets you test out the tech. Then, you can make sure paying more for your next tablet will be worth it.
How Often Should You Upgrade Your iPad?
You should upgrade your iPad whenever it no longer meets your needs. For many people, this happens when their device can’t support the new iOS.
Some people upgrade every year, but that gets expensive. I think every few years is plenty of time to use your iPad and get your money’s worth.
Is the iPad mini a Good Choice for Musicians?
Before I got the regular iPad, I was using an iPad mini. At that point, I mostly used an iPad to sight read music, not to just play.
I wouldn’t suggest using the iPad mini for more than the occasional sight reading session. It’s just too small to make reading music comfortable.
Will You Get a Cheap iPad?
If you want to leave your print music at home, you might want a cheap iPad. That way, you don’t have to blow over $1,000 on something you’ll hardly use.
Luckily, you can find multiple ways to save money on a tablet. And if you’re ready to go digital, download forScore and More for everything you need to know about using an iPad as a musician.