The Chromebook…as a PDF Music Reader?

My favorite moment at this year's Iowa Music Educators Association Professional Development Conference came during my “Technology for the Rest of Us” session. I was talking about Chromebooks, and I said, “Nobody is going to hold a Chromebook [on its side] like a book to read music.” One of the educators in attendance raised his hand and said, “My students do.” [I should add that another educator also mentioned that they had also tried this with their band students].

I was amazed…it was a GREAT moment. New ideas and concepts in technology really make my day.

That educator is Mark Bjorklund, who teaches Middle School Vocal Music at Miller Middle School and Lenihan Intermediate School in Marshalltown, IA. Their school is a 1:1 Chromebook school, and he is trying to make the most out of the devices he has been given (although he also uses an iPad himself).

He “scans” music using the GeniusScan app with his iPad, then exports the PDF to Notability to make any notations (writing solfege, etc). Then he exports the PDF to Google Drive and uploads it to Google Classroom.

Students simply open the PDF from Google Classroom. Then they hit CTRL + SHIFT + REFRESH on their Chromebooks to rotate their screens 90º. Mr. Bjorklund says that it is a little akward for them to turn pages because they have to “scroll” using the arrow keys. He mentions that the students would rather not use the Chromebooks like this, but it does make a way for vocal music to integrate Chromebooks in class. This would not be as successful for instrumental music, as most Chromebooks cannot open 180º to sit on a music stand.

I have tried this on my own Chromebook, and much like using Notability (iPad) with music, page turning is vertical versus horizontal. The height of the 11″ Chromebook is adequate for music. An app that would all a user to turn pages left-to-right (and perhaps with the trackpad) would be a huge benefit. The ability to “stretch” to fill a screen would also be a nice addition. If anyone knows a Chromebook Web App that would allow for this use, please let me know.

If you have Chromebooks, this might be an option for you! The real answer, still coming in the future, is a convertible Chromebook tablet that would be touchscreen based. However–that is the future, and the Chromebook is in your schools NOW.

Many thanks to Mark Bjorklund for providing my favorite moment from this year's IMEA conference, as well as for following through with sending some pictures (which appear here with permission). Innovative music educators are fantastic!