Can you use Apple Books for sheet music? Should you? The app is free and easy to use, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for performing.
Before you import your sheet music, consider the pros and cons of the app for musicians. Then, you can decide if it’s right for you.
But first, this post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy to learn more.
Why Use Apple Books for Sheet Music
Using Apple Books for sheet music on an iPad can be a good thing. The app has a few things going for it, so you may want to consider it as your app of choice.
Here are a few benefits of Apple Books for reading sheet music.
Free to Use
Apple Books is a free app, so you don’t need to pay to use it. Some of the best sheet music readers cost money upfront. And if you aren’t sure how much you’ll use the app, I get not wanting to pay.
Plus, the app at least used to come standard on all new iPads. I’m not sure if that’s still the case. But even if it’s not, you can easily search for it in the App Store and download the program.
Then, you can easily import your PDFs of sheet music to the app. You’ll be ready to practice music on your iPad in a few taps.
Another advantage of Apple Books is the fact that it’s an Apple app. It doesn’t come from a third-party developer. While there are many good developers out there, you can trust that an Apple app will work well.
It will also be compatible with any iPad OS updates you make. That means you can use Apple Books for sheet music well into the future.
I know some people don’t like the Apple standard apps. But they’re there for a reason, so it’s good when you can make use of them.
Ability to Annotate
One of the most important features of a sheet music app is the ability to annotate. Apple Books lets you do so. While the reason for that is to help readers make notes on the books they read, it works for sheet music.
You can do a lot with the annotation features. That helps you mark up the music to remember when to use different fingerings or dynamics.
I haven’t used the annotation features that much. However, I think they can become pretty easy to use with practice.
Why Not Use Apple Books for Sheet Music
Just because you can use Apple Books for sheet music doesn’t mean you should. If you want to make the most of your iPad, Apple Books might not be the best app to use.
Here are a few drawbacks you can expect from using the app.
Not a Sheet Music Reader
Apps like forScore are designed with musicians and sheet music in mind. An app like Apple Books was designed for reading novels and non-fiction books.
That means the features are better set up for that purpose. You can use the app for sheet music, but there aren’t as many features and functions. That can make using the app more frustrating.
Apple Books can work for a bit. But once you really get into using an iPad for sheet music, you’ll probably struggle. Then, you may choose to switch to another app, but you’ll have to spend time learning whichever app you use.
Minimal Organization Features
Apple Books might work for a few pieces of sheet music. But once you start adding more and more files, finding stuff will become hard.
There aren’t a ton of organizational options. Compare that to forScore, where you can tag files based on the composer, genre, or instrumentation.
If you want to bring all of your sheet music onto your iPad, Apple Books isn’t going to work well. You’d be better off using the Files app. But even that’s not an ideal solution for the long term.
Some sheet music readers are expensive, but there are some good free options out there. The IMSLP app is an excellent option if you want to use an iPad for music but don’t want to buy an app.
Yes, the main function is to search and download music. But you can also import PDFs to the app. You can then scroll through your library and categorize files by composer.
Sure, the app will take up a bit of extra space on your iPad. However, that’s well worth it for potentially saving you a lot of time during your practice sessions.
How to Use Apple Books for Sheet Music
I wouldn’t recommend using Apple Books for sheet music. But it could be a good option for test driving digital files.
If you want to use your current iPad for music, consider how you can make Apple Books work. You’ll probably need another app eventually, but you can at least see if reading music on an iPad is right for you.
First, you’ll need to make sure you have PDFs of all of the files you want to read in Apple Books. If you buy digital files, those should already come as PDFs, so they’re ready to go.
Otherwise, you’ll need to scan the files. You can do this with your iPad using a scanner app. Another option is to use a physical scanner to send the files to your computer and then transfer them to your iPad.
I use an app called Tiny Scanner. It does cost a few dollars, but you can scan as many files as you want using the rear camera on your iPad. Then, you can crop the photos before turning them into PDFs.
Import to Apple Books
Once you get the file you want to your iPad, you can import it to Apple Books. If you use Tiny Scanner, look for the file in question. Tap on the three dots, then tap “Share,” and then “Open in…”
Scroll through the list of apps until you find Apple Books. Then, you tap on the app icon, and it will open the file for you.
If you have a file in the Apple Files app, you’ll open the file there. Tap on the share icon in the top right, and look for the Apple Books icon.
Read From Your iPad
Now you can use Apple Books for sheet music. You’ll open the file like you’d open any other book, and you can scroll between pages.
Of course, there are some limitations. My biggest issue is the lack of half-page turns. I love using those so that I don’t have to rely on a Bluetooth foot pedal.
But if you’re okay with those limits, you can make it work. Be sure to repeat the import process for any files you want to read in the app.
Can You Use Kindle for Sheet Music?
The Kindle app is similar to Apple Books. It’s for reading fiction or non-fiction books, not performing from sheet music.
I used a Kindle version of a piano book when I taught piano lessons. It worked okay, but I wouldn’t want to perform from the app.
What Are Some Good Sheet Music Reader Apps?
I’d recommend apps like forScore and IMSLP. If you also need to buy sheet music, you can use the Henle Library for any music you buy from them.
While I haven’t tried them yet, I’ve also heard good things about Newzik and Piascore. Some sheet music retailers also have apps, like Musicnotes.
Can You Use Apple Books for Sheet Music?
You can use Apple Books for sheet music, but I don’t think you should. There are too many limitations for it to be worth the time and effort.
If you want to learn more about how to use your iPad for sheet music, download forScore and More. The guide covers everything from starting to becoming a digital sheet music pro!