TechLand

Using Your Tablet for Music Rehearsals and Performances

by Rambhakta

Update: Michael Olivier pointed me to ForScore, a wonderful sheet-music reader app for iPads. As a cash-strapped Android user I’m unable to offer my thoughts. If you’d like to review it here, please send a note via the contact page.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab A and MobileSheets Pro

I would like to share a discovery that makes Swami’s music both simpler and easier to rehearse and perform, while preserving all the fun.

It involves using a tablet to display the sheet music while you listen to a practice MP3 that plays in the background. The PDFs and MP3s are handled by a single program, so you don’t have to switch between programs for the PDFs and MP3s. (Or fiddle with paper sheets and an MP3 player.)

Of course, it’s dead simple to do this on a desktop PC or a laptop, using your computer’s PDF reader and music player. But because the tablet is so light, you can easily take it anywhere to rehearse. Sitting in Starbucks, you can go over a song with your headphones.

For those of you who may be intrigued, here are some details of how I’m using this technology.

I’m using an Android tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7. It is the most popular of Samsung’s current models. It costs $100 less than the high-end Galaxy Tab S2. The more expensive S2 tablet is lighter and has an amazing screen. But, speaking for myself, I did not feel inspired to shell out the extra bucks. The Tab A is wonderful. The screen is fine for work that requires decent resolution – watching movies, editing photos, etc.

I paid $219 for the 32GB model, used. At the time, a used 16GB Tab A with warranty cost about $175. I bought an open-box unit on eBAY from Quick Ship Electronics. They have a 99.7% positive rating on 250,000 sales and offer a one-year warranty on used tablets.

iPad Users. Yes, you can do this on an iPad. There are professional-grade music viewer apps for the iPad. If you are presently using one of these apps, I would be grateful if you could send me a message, describing which app you’re using and what you can do with it. (You can use the contact form.) I will post a starter section for iPad users – thanks on behalf of all the good Apples singing Swami’s music around the world!

MobileSheets Pro for Android. At any rate, MobileSheets Pro for Android ($12.50 on Google Play; there is no iPad version) lets me batch upload all of the songs as PDF files into the tablet. I can then open MobileSheets Pro and scroll through a list of songs, then load a song and tap in the margin to display a little MP3 player. When I press Play to start the song, the player disappears so it no longer blocks any part of the screen. See the photos below.

The MobileSheets screen. You can tap in the margin to display the mini player and start the song. The player disappears after a few seconds while the song continues to play in the background. Click to enlarge.

The MobileSheets screen. You can tap in the margin to display the mini player and start the song. The player disappears after a few seconds while the song continues to play in the background. Click to enlarge.

You can also display a larger player with more functions including a playlist, etc.

You can also display a larger player with more functions including a playlist, etc. Click to enlarge.

The MobileSheets Pro app can do lots of sophisticated things – it lets you play a metronome in the background, make handwritten annotations on a page with a stylus, use a foot pedal for hands-free page turning, etc. — see the publisher’s website for details.