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Should You Switch to Digital Sheet Music?

I have switched to iPad for over a year now, and I am reading off digital scores 90%of the time. I get a lot of questions about going digital, so by sharing my experience, I hope it helps you make your own decision!

Reasons to Go Digital:

1. Less Bulky

This is the main reason I chose to use digital scores. I love learning new repertoire and as a solo and collaborative pianist, I have loads of music. I used to carry a large pile of scores every day (already much better than my piano teacher who had to carry music in suitcases before the photocopier was invented). Moving from one city to another was always a nightmare. Packing boxes of music was time consuming, heavy and costly. As a result I was forced to get rid of many of them and had to print them again later. Now that I have many of my music scanned, I can access them even offline. When I have to play for specific gigs or performances, I can easily open the PDF file via emails, Dropbox, Airdrop, and Google Drive.

2. Ease of Page-Turning

It feels great to be able to play without stopping every two pages during practice. Non-pianists can also benefit from reading the score-- something that is usually impossible if you are using physical copies. We have all experienced or heard stories of page-turn failures. I have had pages turned by the air-conditioner, scores flown off the piano or torn a page apart when I turned my own pages. It is not always easy to have a good page-turner available especially when you perform a lot or in different places. Going digital makes it easy as I turn my own pages. Now I do not have to worry about paper noise or the awkwardness of the page turner standing in quiet and suspended moments.

3. Time Saving

I can write and highlight in different colours to visualise and memorise music without damaging the sheet music. Erasing markings take only a second. Instead of photocopying extra pages for repeats and pages that are difficult to turn, I can easily create duplicates or rearrange pages. Moreover, once I have scanned the music, I always have it no matter where I go. I no longer have to photocopy, print, put them in binders or tape them again.

4. Makes Learning Easier

Going digital is great for emergency situations when I need something in a hurry. In masterclasses or performance classes, I can easily download scores and music then take notes on it. I find myself learning so much more when I can make reference to the scores during classes. I love sight-reading and trying new repertoire without having needed to print everything. When I play for gigs, singers or other instrumentalists, I no longer have to print everything only to discard afterwards.

Apps I am Using

ForScore, PiaScore, IMSLP, Henle, Google Drive, Dropbox

Reasons of Using Printed Music

As much as I enjoy using digital sheet music, I understand that it is not for everyone. You may want to use printed music if:

  1. You find it difficult to turn pages with your foot or when you have to use both legs on your instrument

  2. You want to minimise screen time

  3. You are worried about having technical glitch onstage, as it happens occasionally

  4. You find the music too complicated or small to read on tablets, especially with contemporary music and full scores

I hope this helps!

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