A nice forum for PDF Music Readers

I have mentioned this before, but Aron Nelson (creator of unrealBook) has put together a very mice resource for PDF music readers.  He has expanded the forum with a few other tech tips for iPad users as well.

If you haven’t logged into the forum–please consider joining, and asking questions if you have them!



Some Potential Christmas Gifts for the Music Educator


It is December 3rd, just a couple days away from St. Nicholas Eve, where a Wisconsin tradition (going back to roots in Germany) has children put their lists to Santa in their stockings, so that Santa can stop by and get their lists, and leave them candy and small toys OR coal, with coal being a warning to get their act together so that Christmas can still be “good.”

I like that tradition.

So…if you have a music educator in your life, what kinds of Christmas gifts could you get them?

  1. If you have a bit of money available, I would suggested a used iPad Pro 12.9″ device–the 128GB or 256GB versions (stay away from the 32GB model).  Make sure that you pay no more than $700 for a 128GB ($850 for the cell version) or $850 for the 256GB version ($925 for the cell version).  A device refresh is coming up [likely in March], so I would not buy a new one.  If you buy from someone in person, make sure that you can log into the iPad and register it to you before handing over cash.  Since iOS 8, if “Find my iPhone” is enabled on a device, you cannot register it again until that setting is removed.  Sometimes sellers don’t know this–and sometimes they are selling stolen items.  Again…make sure everything works before handing over those hundred dollar bills!
  2. If your music educator already owns an iPad Pro (12.9″ or 9.7″), get them an Apple Pencil ($100).  They will not be disappointed.
  3. If your music educator is on the iOS platform, an iTunes Gift Card is always a nice gift.
  4. Take a look at the JamStik ($299) as a bluetooth MIDI guitar interface, or the CME XKey Air ($199) bluetooth MIDI piano interface.
  5. If you know someone that does recording on an iPad, consider an external microphone, such as the Blue Snowball ($50), the Shure MV5 ($100), the Blue Mikey ($90), or the Shure MV88 ($150).
  6. The ukulele has brought a lot of joy into my life, while we are buying Caramel ukuleles for our school, they will never arrive in time for Christmas.  I would suggest the Outdoor Ukulele Tenor models ($150) for a ukulele that literally can go anywhere; or for a high quality, low priced ukulele, I love all of the products at Mainland Ukuleles ($200-$400).  I am particularly fond of the Cedar/Redwood Tenor.  If you buy a Mainland, make sure to order a case and a humidifier, as solid wood ukuleles require basic maintenance with humidity; I also suggest getting 2 shoulder straps on any Concert or larger ukulele (one on the bottom, one on the heel–although Outdoor Ukulele installs them elsewhere), and if you plan on amplifying your ukulele, order a pickup with the instrument.  The Outdoor Ukulele only has one option; order a MiSi with the Mainland if you choose to buy a pickup.

New edition of the Music Education and Technology Podcast

Good morning!  We just published our latest episode of the Music Education and Technology Podcast.  You can see show notes here, and the episode is linked below.


Existing Finale Owners…

If you didn’t update to Finale 25, Monday is when you want to do it. MakeMusic is offering a $99 upgrade to existing owners (of Finale, PrintMusic, and SongWriter).

Finale 25 doesn’t operate any differently than previous versions–most of  the work was done “under the hood” updating the code. While there are some “new” things (e.g. transposing parts) the 64 bit programming is why you want the latest version.

Hopefully you saved some cash to be able to take advantage of the sale. 

iOS users who use music apps are fortunate…

As this Thankgiving Day draws to a close (and a very late “Happy Thanksgiving” to everyone), I was reminded this evening how fortunate iOS users, who use music apps, truly are.  Perhaps I could pen that sentence in a better way, but I think I am going to leave it.

This afternoon, I purchased some ukulele Christmas tab books from The Ukulele Hunt.  When we arrived at home, I wanted to put those PDFs on my iPad and started playing.

My usual PDF app is forScore.  forScore recently issued an update, and I cannot get the app to install on my iPad.  Therefore, it is sitting unusable on my device.  I’m not mad about this, and it wouldn’t cause me to tell people to not buy forScore.  Instead I fired up unrealBook, imported the PDF files from Dropbox, and was playing ukulele in no time at all.

Here is where iPad users are fortunate: we have devices that work VERY well for music reading, in a number of configurations, including a 12.9″ iPad.  At the same time, we have a number of accessories that make interacting with the music easier (AirTurn pedals, AirTurn iPad mounts, Apple Pencil (for pro models), and Adonit Jot Dash and Adonit Snap styluses), and a bunch of great apps that other platforms can only dream about.

Beyond forScore and unrealBook, which I recommend the purchase of both to everyone, there are many more PDF music readers, such as NextPage and even the (generally free with IAPs) app, PiaScore.  There is also another generation of music readers, such as Newzik, SuperScore, and Gustaf that combine the possibilities of MusicXML as well as PDF files.  And in a pinch, many other PDF apps can work very well, where other platforms lack a single good app.

I don’t want to talk down other platforms, and iOS has its issues, too.  But I am still amazed at my iOS devices and how they have seamlessly integrated into my daily life and my teaching–and I cannot imagine my life without these devices.  They improve the quality of my life (and allow me to invest my time in the things that interest me) and they help me in my profession.  The combination of ease of use and quality apps, along with core functionality (e.g. Core MIDI, BLE MIDI) make my iOS devices a essential element of my existence…and I am thankful for them today.

Again, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Check out my friend’s, Paul Shimmons, web page for a bunch of music apps that are on sale for Black Friday!