Category Archives: Music Scanning

1DollarScan and AirTurn

Hugh Sung, co-founder of the AirTurn Bluetooth foot pedal, interviewed Ryan Brusuelas, VP of Marketing and Business Development at 1DollarScan this past Saturday.

If you have the time, watch the show as there is a great deal of discussion about digital music, why to concert to digital music, and various methodologies to move to digital music.

Watching the interview, it becomes clear that AirTurn and its users have helped 1DollarScan to change their approach towards sheet music. In the past, 1DollarScan would consider sheet music as business documents, charging $1.00 per 10 pages of music. With the influence of AirTurn, 1DollarScan will now allow you to scan 100 pages of sheet music for $1.00. This means the ability to scan 10 choral octavos, or an entire Band Set, for $1.00 versus $10.00. You do need to mention AirTurn as you place your order and remember that originals are destroyed and recycled. Additional services are offered such as page straightening and higher dpi scanning, at $2 per copy.

I am using 1DollarScan to process vocal books at my (new) school and I have been very happy with the results (using the standard 300 dpi scan). For individual choral octavos, I still prefer to use my Canon P-150 scanner, as I can scan a single piece in under a minute with extremely good results.

I continue to appreciate Hugh Sung's humor…as he mentioned in his book, he reminded viewers of the AirTurn show that the best way to start scanning is like eating an elephant…one bite at a time. You scan what you need first, and slowly add scans until you scan your complete library. That might be through 1DollarScan, your own scanning, or a combination of the two.

In closing, it's the news about sheet music being treated like a book versus a document that is really exciting. You may also want to go to to see their new tablet mounts, meant to hold iPads in all kinds of cases, including heavy-duty cases like the Griffin Survivor used at our school.


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Using Soundcloud Out of Necessity

One of the huge problems with the iPad for music education is the inability to save music on the iPad music library unless you sync with iTunes. I have written Tim Cook about this multiple times over the years, and will continue to do so every six months or so until things change.

Here's the problem: in our 1:1 iPad situation, iPads are basically never synced with a computer. We sync them with an original profile, and then everything else is done away from the computer, unless the device needs to be reimaged. Everything else a student needs remains in the cloud.

If you can only save audio in the music library by syncing, you cannot save music to the device.

I have been trying to find a way to get audio into a music library so that apps like forScore and unrealBook can access audio files I've created as accompaniment or rehearsal tracks for my choir students. I also wanted to see if I could find a program that would allow students to open an audio file and record a second track over the audio file (authentic assessment), and then export that file to Google Drive (our iPad initiative is also linked to Google Docs). Neither one of these things is possible right now, although Apple could make both of them happen with GarageBand, nearly instantly. If you could import music into GarageBand and then save to your music library (like Photos), that problem would be solved; and if you could import music into GarageBand, you could simply insert another track over that recording.

I am further limited in my search for apps as they need to be free–we have no budget for apps. So although I would love to provide forScore or unrealBook for my 225 students, we have settled on using PiaScore. We're making it work, but I despise the YouTube component in PiaScore, as some of my students use their time in choir watching videos (with no sound) rather than singing.

A number of fellow music education “techies” have suggested Soundcloud as a possibility for my use, and I am reluctantly going that way for rehearsal audio files. I can't find a solution for importing a track from Google Docs, recording a track over that track, and then exporting the entire recording to Google Docs again.

When I taught high school for the past 17 years, I had a caroling ensemble each year, and I eventually developed my own collection of carols, edited by me, that we sang. We stuck to traditional songs (although I did make fun arrangements of a few songs like “Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer” and “I'm Getting Nothing for Christmas”) because that is what people want from caroling groups. By the end, each part had its own lead sheet (Sopranos with a soprano only part), as this allowed each song to fit on one page for each singer. I still have all those resources. Caroling groups, particularly extra-curricular groups, are still encouraged in our area. That Minnesota/St. Olaf/Luther/Concordia tradition is extremely strong here.

But now I teach middle school choir, and my students just aren't as vocally and musically developed as my high school students were–and this isn't a shocker. But I decided to start a caroling group for our middle school, and I have fifteen brave souls that I am now teaching two-part carols to. Many of the carols are coming from Joe Ambrosio's “Carols for Choirs,” which are two-part carols (but written in Soprano-Tenor; Alto-Bass configuration), and my colleague Reid Larsen at one of our other middle schools brought my attention to those carols last year. Each of these carols also has a piano accompaniment to support the singers. I hope Joe adds a few more carols in a second set (I need to find him and e-mail the suggestion). I am adding other carols to Joe's songs, creating a set of accompanied SA carols for my singers to learn. We rehearse once a week on Tuesdays after school.

My process is to scan the music in PhotoScore Ultimate, export as a MusicXML, open into Finale, clean up the score, export it as a MusicXML, and to import it into Notion for the iPad. Notion becomes my piano player for rehearsals and works quite nicely (I'm looking forward to future N-Tempo features in Notion). If I want to make a rehearsal track, all I need to do is to adjust some sliders in Notion, and export the audio. If this seems like an involved process, I did about seven carols in less than two hours the other day. PhotoScore does a great job with less complex vocal scores (and it struggles with very complex vocal scores, like any other scanning software).

You can export from Notion to Dropbox, but you can also export to Soundcloud. Exporting is SO easy on the iPad; it is one of the main reasons I love Notion for the iPad.

I installed Soundcloud tonight, and did a test before deciding to move forward. You can open PiaScore, then open SoundCloud, find a recording, and then switch back to PiaScore and use your music with the recording. This isn't as good of a solution as “binding” an accompaniment in forScore or unrealBook to a song–but it works. And it is free. So this is what I will be doing for now. I am also going to e-mail forScore and unrealBook and find out if it would be possible to link to a SoundCloud file (yes, Internet access would be needed). I can't afford copies for all 225 students in my program, but I could find a way to pay for 15 students in my caroling ensemble.

As a closing thought, I am amazed at how quickly Notion uploads to Soundcloud, and I love the acceptance message:

“Yay, that Worked!”

If you want, you can go listen to my first rehearsal scores in Soundcloud…I can't promise these will be available indefinitely, as we have a winter musical ahead and a spring jazz/pops group that will also need rehearsal tracks. But it is a start. Our account goes by “OMS Choirs,” and can be accessed here:


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Filed under 1:1, iPad Apps, Music Scanning, Music XML Files, Notion

Another Follow-Up on 1DollarScan

So far, I have sent fourteen “sets” or 10 books (100 pages in a book equals a set) to 1DollarScan for scanning. The first order of 4 sets was actually scanned one day in advance; the second set of 10 sets was actually five days late. In all cases, I am happy with the quality of the scans, and I have no rush to get these scans back. You can buy a platinum membership that throws in a number of services for free and also adds priority scanning–but for me, the $1 per 100 pages works just fine. I can rename files if necessary, and I can find a PDF program that can straighten a skewed image (so far, all of the scans have been straight, or as straight as the book).

As I've said in previous posts, if I have choral sheet music, I will scan it myself with my Canon scanner. Even with 1DollarScan's prices, it is far cheaper in the long run for me to scan my own choral sheet music. Vocal books, however, are oversized (they don't fit in my scanner) and require the binding to be cut off each book for scanning. I could not take my books to FedEx Office to have he bindings cut off for less than $1 per book. I can cut choral music with an inexpensive gullitoine cutter from an office supply store.

I just boxed up the next set of books to send to 1DollarScan…this time of 25 sets, or 15 books (some of the books have over 200 chapters). There is a bit of a “bum deal” when you have a book that is just over 200 pages and thus costs 3 sets…but I'll deal with it.

This box will be sent tomorrow (media mail) and is scheduled to be scanned on September 8th.

I only have a small pile of books left to scan. To date, I've invested $39 in scanning, and $8 in postage (the cost for this box is yet to be determined). In the process, I've saved myself hours of work.

More updates as events develop!

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1DollarScan: A review

Last week, I wrote an article about how I woulf try out 1DollarScan's service. As I scanned my “new” music library, I came across twenty-five vocal books in the collection. I have scanned my own vocal books in the past, using an all-in-one printer. You have to rip apart each book and then scan each indivudual page. It's slow going, and it can take over three hours a book (assuming you scan thirty pages per hour and a voice book has ninety pages [some have more, some have less]).

My portable Canon scanner, the P-150, can't handle the size of vocal books, which are larger than 8.5×11. So if you scan your own vocal books, you have to work with each page so that all your music can be scanned on an all-in-one printer. This often requires re-scans and is time consuming. It also is difficult to rip apart books on your own.

I had read about 1DollarScan's services, so I thought I would try it out on a few books (four) before committing to all 25 books in my new library. The scanning cost $4, with no added perks, and shipping was about $4. 1DollarScan received the books (sent book rate USPS). I mailed the books on July 25, and they were received in California on the 30th. The company started scanning the books on August 2nd, and finished the process today, August 5th. The original scheduled scanning date was August 6th, so they finished ahead of schedule.

I'm very pleased by the results. I've gone through and looked at each book, renaming them in the process. The 1DollarScan files may be in scanned in greyscale (covers are in color), but they are certainly of good quality. This first image shows the full page scan between a scan by 1DollarScan, and a scan that I made. I have reduced the size of the pages for a side-by-side, but you can see that the clarity of the 1DollarScan is better than my own scan:

Additionally, I zoomed in (in forScore) as much as possible on each scan. I wasn't able to zoom in as much on the 1DollarScan document, but the scan is clearer than my own scan zoomed. You can see “breaks” in staff lines on my own scan.

I would still choose to scan choral octavos myself, as those pages fit in my Canon scanner and I can scan a sixteen page choral score in thirty seconds. 1Dollarscan charges $0.10 per page to scan business documents–so that isn't as good of a deal. Because of the large size of band and orchestra scores, band and orchestra directors may want to look at the possibility of sending their scores to 1DollarScan as their songs are performed (probably not an entire library at once). If you have thirty parts in a score, four pages each, that is 120 pages, plus a 50 page director's score resulting in 170 pages per band score, or $17 before shipping. Add at least $5 for shipping, and it will cost $25 per score to have it scanned. Now, for the magic question: how much time would it take to scan that score by hand at your music copier? And how much is your time worth? I personally, as a band directory, would ask my booster organization for the $25 per score JUST AS INSURANCE for lost parts. If I was worried about losing the director's score, I would order a replacement score to have scanned. Once scanned, the music can be divided and distributed any number of ways. There was a way in the past to request scanned material to be returned, but I do not see this as an option and 1DollarScan anymore.My conclusion: I'm sending the rest of these voice books, probably in sets of 10 (100 pages in a book = 1 set). It saves too much time versus scanning them myself.

Once again, I don't encourage scanning as a way to get around purchasing music. You should only use as many scanned copies as paper copies exist in your library (unless you have purchased digitial sheet music), and in the event that you are a band director and have more players than you have existing parts, you really should buy a second copy of the instrumental parts.

In closing, I'd absolutely recommend 1DollarScan for your scanning needs. The results are good, and the price for books is phenominal. As for individual choral octavos or instrumental scores–that will be up to you to decide how you want to handle it.



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Trying Out 1DollarScan Scanning Services…

Although I have already scanned all of the choral octavos in my new choir library, there are a small collection of solo (and a few duet) books that also need to be scanned. In the past, I ripped apart vocal books (including my own) and used a flatbed scanner to scan those books. Most vocal books only have music on an 8.5×11 area (even though the paper is substantially larger), so you can manipulate a single page to scan all the music on the page–although you do have to try a few times to get the full page.

This isn't ideal, and it takes a lot of time. I don't recommend it.

The perfect solution would be an oversized duplex document scanner, but those start in the $3000 range.

So I've decided to look at 1DollarScan to scan these solo/duet books–about 25 total books. I just sent four books in today (7/25) and I'll report on how long it takes for them to be received and then scanned–as well as the quality and format of those scans.

1DollarScan has been mentioned by both and by Hugh Sung in his book From Paper to Pixels.

The basic concept of 1DollarScan is that you buy $1 “sets.” Each set can be used on a different number of pages. If you are scanning a book, each set covers 100 pages of that book, and you round up. So if your book is 134 pages, it will cost $2 to scan. You cannot combine books to reduce the number of sets. You can also scan business documents (I imagine this would represent a single instrumental score part) at 10 pages for each set. Business documents cost more because each document has to be individually saved and named, whereas a book is a continuous scan of pages (with a good document scanner the number of pages is irrelevant, as they almost fly through the scanner). There are other pricing options for photos, greeting cards, and more.

There are additional options for 1DollarScan, such as paying $1 to name a file, $2 for a high quality (600 dpi) scan, and more. I would personally not recommend these options, as you can easily rename a file, and the basic scan included with the $1 per set level should be more than adequate in terms of quality for the future.

The other hidden cost is shipping to the company. Four vocal books cost $3.80 to ship at the book rate. That makes it $2 to scan a vocal book of less than 100 pages, and in some cases (thick vocal books) up to $4. If you set the average at $3 per book, you would have to scan over 1000 books before justifying the cost of a large format duplex document scanner–plus factor in the time you use to scan and rename the books.

Keep in mind that you don't get the books back. This might be a deal-breaker for some. If I taught elementary band, I would send an entire stack of every method book for every instrument I use to be digitized. The convenience–in use, not only in digitizing/cost–would make it immediately worth it.

If you were scanning an instrumental library, the initial purchase of a large document scanner would probably be a good investment, as 10 pages of “documents” equals one dollar…and a single band score can easily total over 50 pages (not counting the conductor's score!)…so a single band piece could cost over $10 to scan (not including shipping). If you estimate $5 for shipping, and each piece is an average of $15, Only scanning 200 pieces would cover the cost of a large format duplex document scanner rather than using 1DollarScan.

So…1DollarScan may be a better option for the voice major rather than the instrumental major.

I will report back after these books have been scanned!


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