Archive for September, 2012

A while back, I blogged about wanting an iPad scanning stand that was portable, inexpensive, and would work with bound books.  I was planning to make my own stand, but I got lazy and purchased this inexpensive locker shelf instead:

Magna Card Locker Shelf / Credit:

The locker shelf folds flat.  Conveniently, I already own a bag that is the right size for it:

Yesterday, I took the locker shelf and my iPad with the Scanner Pro app installed to the music library for a test drive.  This time around, I wasn’t scanning scores, but rather a few pages from the Nico Castel libretti books.  Here’s what my setup looked like (click any of the images for the full-sized version):

Here’s a sample of the image quality from the original camera image:

And here’s a sample of the image quality after Scanner Pro has fixed the color and converted it to a PDF file:

My observations about the scanning process:

  • I ended up not using Scanner Pro’s camera mode for direct document capture because it does not let you make adjustments to the zoom.  Fortunately, you can take pictures using the iPad’s regular built-in camera app and then have Scanner Pro import photos from your camera roll to create a multi-page document.
  • The library lighting worked well, and the light goes right through the grating of the locker shelf platform and illuminates the page nicely.
  • I had to position the iPad so that the the wire mesh of the locker shelf platform did not block the iPad’s back-facing camera (just make sure the camera can peek out through one of the wire “squares” – not too hard).
  • With bound books, I had to smooth out pages as best I could with my hand, sometimes even holding them flat with my fingertip while scanning.  Even so, the pages still had some perspective skew to them (with the side of the page closer to the camera appearing larger than the further side of the page).  This was acceptable for scanning text, but I wouldn’t want this kind of skew when scanning a score.  Next time I will try the TurboScan app for iPad – I’ve heard it has some deskewing features (can any readers out there comment on how well the deskewing works?).
  • With bound books, the process was not as fast as using a copy machine or flatbed scanner, because of all of the fiddling and positioning and focusing that was necessary.  I think scanning loose pages with this method would be a bit faster, as you could just slide the pages in and out from under the locker shelf as you go.  Nevertheless, copying many pages from a large bound book would be pretty tedious with the method I used because you kind of have to balance the locker shelf on top of the book and then position the iPad just right to capture the entire page.
  • I would like to get some kind of strap, like a small bungee cord or luggage strap, to fasten the iPad to the locker shelf platform and prevent it from slipping off while I’m positioning it:

Lewis N. Clark Add-A-Bag Luggage Strap / Credit:

  • The mechanism for holding the locker shelf legs in place is not particularly sturdy.  It’s just a groove into which the leg fits:

In the future I might use something simple like small binder clips to secure the legs against collapsing while my iPad is on it:

  • Lastly, once Scanner Pro generates the PDF of the libretto pages, it can send the file to Dropbox, where I can then import it into forScore and stick it in a setlist together with my score, so I can have all my music study materials together in one place.

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I recently discovered another series of forScore video tutorials by harpist/composer Janet Lanier.  I’m working through them now, and they’re very well done.  She touches on some points that I don’t cover in my forScore video tutorials, for example, general iPad settings that make it easier to read music on its display.  She’s also quite a bit pithier than my long-winded self 🙂  Here’s some background info that Janet has posted about her tutorial series.  You can subscribe to Janet’s YouTube channel to get notified when she posts new tutorials.

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I’ve mentioned in several previous posts that the ezPDF Reader app is an option for musicians with Android tablets to be able read – and mark – their PDF scores.  I know more than one musician who has been able to work productively with ezPDF Reader on Android – but I have not tried it myself.  Well, Chris Russell at Technology in Music Education bring us this musician-oriented review of ezPDF Reader, if you want to know what it’s like.  Thanks, Chris!

Read the review: EZ PDF Reader Pro (for Android!)

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[iPad users: You’ll need a different browser to view these resources – see note below!]

I just found a collection of presentations on SlideShare by Dr. Philip Copeland (Director of Choral Activities & Associate Professor of Music at Samford University) and it is a real treasure trove.  The dude is one seriously wired choral conductor.  Have a look at some of his presentation titles:


Music history, style, literature


Technology for choral conductors

Singer health

Did that whet your appetite?  View the full list of Dr. Copeland’s presentations here.  You can also follow him on Twitter at @philipco

[N.B. for iPad users: I suggest using Puffin Web Browser Free in landscape mode to view Dr. Copeland’s presentations on SlideShare.  The SlideShare website pretty much doesn’t work on Safari for iPad due to a combination of Flash and mobile website issues (as far as I can tell).  There are two third-party SlideShare apps for iPad, Slide by Slide and SlidePad, but neither one gives correct results when searching by username.  Alternatively, you can just view the presentations on your computer.]

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Here’s a tutorial on how to create and use bookmarks in forScore.  (One bookmark tip I forgot to mention in the tutorial: If you email/share a score as .4SC file, its bookmarks will be included and the recipient will see them when they import the score into their iPad.  Thanks to Chris Russel at Technology in Music Education for tipping me off about that.)

Video: forScore Tutorial: Bookmark Basics (11:32)

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I got a new case for my iPad.  I usually keep it in a minimalist black silicone skin (cheap, lightweight, and grippy – the latter two being important during performance).  But I need a little extra screen protection for the times when I throw it in my backpack.  (By the way, I didn’t really buy this iPad case from Isle Royale National Park – that patch is just a piece of flair.)

The case has a velcro easel stand/strap thing on the back:

Ostensibly it’s to prop up the case for viewing the iPad in landscape mode.  (Note that I can put my iPad in this case without having to remove the silicone skin, a convenient feature for me.)

However, when I’m using the iPad on a wire music stand…

…it makes a great safety strap for securing the iPad to the music stand so it won’t fall off the desk!

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Credit: Pamela Elrod / Chorus America

This oldie-but-goodie has been bouncing around Twitter lately:

The Choral Warm-Ups of Robert Shaw (includes explanations and notated examples)

In addition to bookmarking it, I saved it as a PDF file using my computer’s print-to-file feature so I can import it into forScore and have it handy on my iPad even when I don’t have a data connection.

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This message arrived in my inbox a couple of weeks ago regarding loaner scores from our organization’s music library. Despite my recent frustrations with annotating digital scores, it reminded me of why I am so done with paper scores. Well, mostly. (No slight is intended to our music librarians – I am appreciative of their hard work and stewardship.)

And now regarding music marking, some do’s and don’ts reminders.

– Use pencil only.
– No high-lighter.
– It is OK to hole punch […] library copies, providing all notes can still be read.
– You may remove staples, but please re-staple copies in page order before return.
– Mark music corrections, even those for other voice parts.
– Feel free to make whatever notes you need to perform the music as [the conductor] would like to interpret it, but please erase those special, personalized notes, such as “[singer’s name], look at [conductor’s name] here!” before returning music, along with grocery lists, call times, pages you need to practice, phone numbers, etc.
– Use paper clips, post it’s, tabs, NOT folded corners, as needed, but remove them before returning music as they leave sticky residue or rust during storage.

Bullet point #5 and the first part of #6 are interesting to ponder in an ensemble setting where some members are on paper and some are not. The model for preserving and recirculating that kind of information is different in the two cases because currently there’s no digital equivalent of “returning” the scores for reuse in their edited form.

On the whole, though, instead of restrictions, I’d rather have rainbows, as the Going Digital for Musicians blog so poetically puts it.  Color annotation is such an incredibly useful tool, as their screenshot shows.

Credit: Going Digital for Musicians

Here is what my score looks like now. I’m sure it breaks all the music library rules.

Oh wait, not quite…

There. That’s better.

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Collins It/En Dictionary on iPad (Credit: Ellen Rissinger)

Collins It/En Dictionary on iPhone (Credit: Ultralingua)


Ellen Rissinger, coach at the Semperoper and diction guru/host of the Diction Police podcast, brings us this review of the Collins Italian/English dictionary for iPad and iPhone:

I just downloaded the Collins Italian/English Dictionary for my iPad–it’s FABULOUS. The only negative about the app is that it doesn’t do the IPA for the conjugations, but it does show all verbs in every conjugation (very cool!) and it actually has full-on IPA for all entries, not just stressed syllables. And it’s expensive, the most I’ve ever paid for an app. But if it can replace my 6-ton, grandmother of all dictionaries Harpers Collins Sansoni, I’ll pay the money 🙂

[…] I’ve discovered that they do have some irregular verb forms as main entries, then linked to the infinitive–not sure if they’re all there, but so far I’m very happy with the app and I spent some quality time translating and looking up open Es and Os today just for fun!

The dictionary app is currently USD 24.99 on the App Store, and one nice feature is that it does not require a data connection to work.

Thanks, Ellen, for graciously letting me quote your review here!  You can subscribe to Ellen’s awesome podcast on iTunes or at and also follow Diction Police on Facebook or Twitter.

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A couple more additions to the lineup of singer-friendly iPad/tablet cases and hand straps via Schola Cantorum‘s Pinterest pinboard, iPad/Tablet Folders, Cases, & Holders for Choral Singers:

Tablet Strap PRO

The Tablet Strap PRO is made by the same company that makes HeloStrap, but the materials look more comfortable and ergonomic than the original HeloStrap. The hand strap is on a rotating mount. It fits a variety of tablets and can be used over a case.

Credit: Hēlo

Grabbit for iPad

The Grabbit for iPad was recommended by a choral director. It is a case with a hand strap on a rotating mount. It has a detachable hard shell front cover that you pop off in order to access the screen. They offer a model with a black hand strap as well.

Credit: Grabbit

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