Thrillers, novels, and newspapers can all be found online nowadays, and also in the music world paper is increasingly being replaced by pixels. There are options galore, but of course, not all of them are equally good. I first listed the advantages and disadvantages of sheet music on your tablet or laptop and explain where you can find sheet music online but also can be printed using a printer like the Brother hl2270dw laser printer (You can download Brother hl2270dw drivers here). Next, I’ll show you what sheet music apps there are, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and what alternatives are available.
Paper vs. Pixels
Using a tablet instead of real scores has the biggest advantage of a course in that you have all your scores in one place. You don’t need ten different scores for an hour and a half performance; you have all the sheet music in the world with you at a few cubic centimeters. In addition, your sheet music no longer just blows away and your pages are always in the right order. Taking notes in apps is becoming easier (and in any case more readable), especially if you get to know your app a little better. Looking up and sharing sheet music is also much easier and faster with a tablet.
Digitizing your sheet music still has some snags. For example, you first need a tablet of a decent size to be able to read your sheet music. A tablet can easily cost a few hundred euros, especially if you want to get close to A4 size. In addition, you are completely dependent on your tablet. No battery? No sheet music! Just a few points to take into account before you put all your trust in a tablet!
Where can I find scores online?
Before you start downloading an app, it may first be useful to know where you can find scores online. When you open a sheet music app, there are no scores in it; you first have to download it yourself and then import it. There are a lot of stores online, but it is sometimes difficult to find what you are looking for. Therefore, make good use of online databases or Google.
Here you will find hundreds of thousands of compositions by thousands of composers. Always take copyright into account. You can assume that pieces of music of which the composer died seventy years or more ago are royalty-free. That is to say: the composition is royalty-free, it does not mean that you can just put every music book on the copier. What you often see in practice is that people have re-entered the composition into notation software and then offer that sheet music for free as a PDF, or that they have made a PDF of a very old printed edition that no longer has any rights to it. Both options are legal.
Also via Google, you can usually find sheet music quite easily. It is important that you use the right search terms. I always use this format myself:
Name of composition + composer + instrument (in English) + pdf
Claire de lune Debussy piano pdf
A number of scores in PDF format often appear automatically that you can open, download and rehearse for free! Of course, the same comments apply to this with regard to copyright.
What sheet music apps are there?
Of all the hundreds of options, I have listed the six best, most used apps. In order to be able to compare the apps properly, I first looked at the possibilities of the app and then used my experience and the experience of others to assess it.
ForScore is the most popular sheet music app for iOS and for good reason: the possibilities are endless and the user interface is very user-friendly. After purchasing the app, you can start importing sheet music. There are many different options for this, including Safari, Mail, Bluetooth, iTunes, and also cloud storage services like DropBox and Onedrive. Don’t have a PDF file of your piece of music? Then you can also import the score using the camera of your iPhone or iPad. The speed at which you can extract sheet music from your database is also a big plus of forScore, even if you have a thousand scores; this happens “in the blink of an eye”.
Sharing sheet music or setlists is very easy, making the app also very suitable for bands and choirs, for example. The simplicity of annotating and the precision with which you can do this are also fantastic and you can even do this with the Apple Pencil! Adding order, structure, and logic to your library is also effortless, through categories, setlists, filters, and sorting options. You can organize a page however you want and browsing is also easy for you. Scroll manually, automatically, or using a Bluetooth pageturner for even more convenience. There are still a number of tools that support you in playing your music. For example, there is a metronome, voice flute, and tuner built in, there is a learning mode and the app keeps track of how much you study
ForScore is without a doubt the best app for iOS, the options are endless, and the app is still being improved. Of course, I have not been able to list all the pros and cons, but you can still find out for yourself. Unfortunately, there is no trial version of forScore and for beginners € 16.99 might be quite a lot, especially if you are not sure if you like it to work. In that case, it might be better to start with a trial version of another app.