Archive for the ‘iPad’ Category sounds like a time-saving and reasonably-priced service for those of us with large libraries of printed music that need to be scanned into a digital format for use on an iPad/tablet or other computer.  For as low as $1 a book, will scan your book and convert it to a PDF file that you can download and use on your computer or mobile device.

AN IMPORTANT NOTE: With this service, your physical books are NOT RETURNED, they are digitized and then DESTROYED!  So don’t use this for your precious tomes with sentimental value where you can’t let go of the physical volume.  Do use it for books that are cheap, used, and/or easily replaceable.  I’m sure this policy of theirs is some kind of CYA for copyright laws.

Some other quick facts to know about this service:

  • Base price is $1 per 100 pages.
  • For an additional cost, there are add-on services such as:
    • Text recognition to make the book searchable (in English, Italian, French, German, Spanish, and other languages)
    • File compression and de-skewing (compression is important when using scores on a mobile device)
    • Express service
    • Accept direct shipments of your book orders from Amazon or other online book/music vendors
    • (Coming soon) Direct upload to your Dropbox
  • Processing time is 2-4 weeks for regular customers, 5-10 business days for Platinum customers (plus round-trip shipping time)
  • Book covers are not scanned (so scan covers yourself beforehand, if you wish).
  • They accept local drop-offs at their San Jose facility in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • They accept orders shipped from inside or outside of the U.S.

The website has a page about how it works, a FAQ, some sample scans, and pricing details.

Review Lagoon has a pretty good review and follow-up report about their experience with the service, and Living Dice also has a review.  There are only a handful of reviews on Yelp about, but all are positive so far.

If you’re shipping a lot of books from the U.S., check out the economical USPS Media Mail rates.

I haven’t yet tried out this service, but I will eventually – follow-up post to come.

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Now that I’ve been using forScore 5 for about a week, here’s a little show-and-tell about my favorite new features in this upgrade.  You can click on any of the images for a bigger view.  But first, let’s talk about bugs I’ve encountered in forScore 5.0.1.


Not to beat a dead horse, but BACK UP your forScore library (both PDFs and the .4sb score data file) before you upgrade!!!  This saved me when my setlists vanished after the upgrade to version 5.0.1.  I was able to restore them using the forScore backup file I made right before I did the upgrade.

The upgrade did erase most of my settings, and I couldn’t restore those from the backup.  I had to go into the Toolbox menu and re-enter them.  The upgrade erased my custom pens (grrr) but NOT my custom stamps (whew!).

I ran into a issue with the global search tool (the magnifying glass icon) where searching for “Bach” yielded “Offenbach” but not “Johann Sebastian Bach”.  Although searching for “Sebastian” DID return “Johann Sebastian Bach”, oddly enough.

When the tab bar is open, it’s possible for the bottoms of scores to be cut off at the edge of the display.

The most serious issue I noticed, other than setlists & settings being erased, was that during rehearsal last night, there were a few times when forScore froze or kept skipping over multiple pages during a page turn.  I wasn’t able to isolate the exact conditions that caused it to happen, and I had to restart forScore for it to return to normal operation.  That would of course be catastrophic during a performance, so I’m going to report that bug and hope that they can get to the bottom of it very soon.

The jury is still out on the issue that I saw in forScore 4 where annotations would get “stuck” and not update when the page was turned (and it turns outs I’m not the only one who reported that problem).  I haven’t seen it yet in forScore 5, but I’ll wait and see if it happens any more.

Now, on to my favorite features:


You can now view two pages side-by-side in landscape mode.  Tap on the number/circle icon to the left of the title when in landscape mode to toggle between one-page and two-page view.  (The two-page view is rather small to read on the iPad, but may be useful if you have the piece almost memorized and just need a roadmap, or are visually skimming/searching though the piece.  The two-page view is most useful when projecting the iPad to a larger display.)  I posted a video demo of the two-up feature here.

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Quick Peek

Quick Peek shows you a thumbnail preview image of the score.  You can now access it through the score menu (eighth-note icon) and the global search tool (magnifying glass icon).  To access Quick Peek, just tap and hold on the score title (instead of a single tap as you would do to open the score normally).  Notice the plus sign in the bottom right corner of the thumbnail image – tap on it to open the score in a new tab.  (I posted a video tutorial on Quick Peek and Tabs here.)

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Tabbed View

I love this.  You can now have multiple scores open, each in their own tab, and switch between them.  I do think this feature needs additional refinement to make it faster and more convenient to open a score in a new tab and also to switch tabs, but the current version is a step in the right direction.  I posted a video tutorial on how to open scores in tabs here.

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Merge PDFs

Now you can combine multiple PDF files into a single PDF.  Just tap the “Edit” button in the Score menu, select the files to combine, then tap “Merge”.  Very handy, and a nice complement to the existing Rearrange feature that lets you copy/re-order/delete pages in a score.

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Setlist Creation & Placeholders

The setlist editor is now a snazzy two-pane window with the setlist on the left and your score library on the right – just browse and tap on scores to add them to the list.  There is also a handy way to add placeholders to your setlist to represent intermissions, songs performed from memory or by other performers, etc.

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Here’s what it looks like when you’re paging through a setlist and arrive at a placeholder:

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Page Number Offsets

I’ve been desperate for this feature for a long while.  It lets you specify a numerical offset so that the page number displayed by forScore matches the page number printed on your sheet music.  Great for finding your place during group rehearsals, as well as for navigating scores that were excerpted from a larger collection, like an anthology.  Tap the number symbol in the bottom right corner of the metadata window to enter the page number offset.

Also, I’ve heard from inside sources that future versions of forScore will support negative page offsets, with pages before 1 shown as Roman numerals.  This is helpful for aligning the page numbers in scores that have front matter – cover, preface, table of contents – that cause the printed page 1 to appear later in the PDF file.

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Adjustable page breaks for half-page turns

The page break for half-page turns now has a slider so you can adjust where the break occurs on each individual page, see below.

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Automatic margin detection for cropping

forScore’s cropping feature now does automatic margin detection.  As an example, consider this score page with lots of whitespace in the margins:

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If you select the “Crop” option from the Toolbox menu…

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The crop tool automatically expands the page so that the printed content fills most of the screen, then lets you make further adjustments before doing the final crop.  (I still prefer tools like Briss for cropping the margins of my lengthier scores – see my post on PDF bulk margin-cropping tools – but forScore’s enhancement to the cropping tool is certainly useful and practical for scores that don’t have too many pages.)

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To read about the rest of the new features in forScore 5, check out forScore’s official list of new features and the forScore User Guide.

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Here’s a quickie video I made to demonstrate another favorite feature of mine in forScore 5 – the ability to view two pages of a score side-by-side.

forScore Tutorial: 2-Up – View two pages side-by-side (1:39)

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I just created a video tutorial on one of my favorite new features introduced in forScore 5: tabbed viewing of scores.  The tutorial also covers the Quick Peek feature which shows you an thumbnail preview image of the score before you open it.

(If you’re new to forScore or this blog, or if you’re just curious about what it’s like to work with sheet music on an iPad/tablet, check out my series of forScore tutorials at .)

forScore Tutorial: Tabs & Quick Peek (6:45)

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The Diction Police logo

I recently listened to Episode #68 of The Diction Police (featuring bass Maurizio Muraro on Banco’s aria from Macbeth) and in this episode, host and fellow iPad addict Ellen Rissinger mentioned a number of useful online/digital resources for Italian language and diction:

The resources I talked about on this episode were the Dizionario d’ortografia e di pronunzia from RAI (the Italian television station) and the Wikipedia entry for standard suffix endings in Italian, including lists of words ending in -MENTO and -MENTE. The iPad apps that I now use for translation and diction purposes are the Harpers Collins Italian-English Dictionary and lo Zingarelli Italian Dictionary (which also gives open and closed Es and Os for all verb forms!).

You can hear Ms. Rissinger talk about these resources in more detail from 2:20-5:35 in the podcast.

This news has already been making the rounds on Twitter and the blogosphere, but I do want to mention it here too.  forScore 5 has been released, here’s the official info:

Note that a bug has been reported for bookmark metadata in forScore 5, so if you use the bookmark feature, they advise waiting for the 5.0.1 release (which is pending Apple approval as of this writing).  I’m in this boat, so I’m going to wait it out.

Before you upgrade, make sure to back up your music library!!!  See my earlier post on how to back up your forScore music library (the instructions are still good for forScore 4).

I do see some features on the list that I’ve been waiting for and that will make my life a whole lot easier.  More to come on my favorite new features in forScore 5.

Credit: iTunes U / Apple

Credit: iTunes U / Apple

I’m starting to explore iTunes U as a learning resource for all of those subjects relevant to the music I perform: art, literature, poetry, history, mythology, language, etc. etc.  The wealth of free course videos, notes, and audio lectures from respected universities is impressive.

This is all well and good on my iPad.  However, by choice, I live in a mixed ecosystem when it comes to tech (iPad, Android phone, laptop running Ubuntu Linux with Windows courtesy of VirtualBox), and I really prefer to listen to audio tracks and podcasts on my phone as opposed to the tablet.  So how to access iTunes U resources on my Android phone?

Enter TunesViewer.  TunesViewer is free software that lets you browse and download iTunes U course resources on the Android and Linux platforms.  Last I checked, the Android version is not available from the Google Play store, but you can follow these instructions to install the Android app (and you’ll want the latest version of the actual .apk file here – scroll to the “Installation” section at the bottom, click on the “.apk” link and save the downloaded file to your Android device).  I am liking TunesViewer so far.

Note that if you’re using TunesViewer and want to subscribe to iTunes U podcasts, you’ll need to install a full-fledged podcast manager app too.  (My preferred podcast app on Android is DoggCatcher.)

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This is Part 2 in a three-part series on virtual music staff paper for your iPad or tablet.  Read Part 1, Virtual music staff paper for your iPad, method #1: Penultimate.

Last time, we learned how to use the staff paper option in the Penultimate iOS app in order to be able to handwrite on virtual staff paper using an iPad.  In this post, I’ll show you how to import PDF files of music staff paper into your iPad so that you can write on them using the iPad.  Android users, you can easily adapt this method for your Android tablet.  Of course, if you need to do more heavy-duty music notation tasks on the iPad, you’ll probably want to use something like Notion or Noteflight – the methods in this blog post series are more appropriate for doing simple sketches or taking quick notes, or if you just prefer to handwrite your music notation.

Before we begin, a quick follow-up on the Penultimate post: Blog reader Brian reports that you can get free staff paper for Penultimate from, rather than buying it from the Penultimate in-app store.  (You can get other kinds of Penultimate papers from too, not just staff paper.)

Now on to the main topic.  To get started, you’ll need to install a PDF annotation app on your iPad such as Notability or GoodReader (and there are many other choices out there).  Android users, iAnnotate PDF is a possible option.

First, find a PDF file of staff paper on the web. There are various free sources of PDF staff paper online. Here is a good one with several kinds of staff paper, courtesy of Perry Roland, librarian at the University of Virginia:

You can also make your own custom PDF staff paper at  This website lets you customize the staff paper by selecting number of staves, clef types, key/time signatures, bar line options, portrait or landscape orientation, and colors.  Note that the website won’t work on an iPad, so use it on your regular computer and then transfer the resulting PDF file to your iPad using Dropbox or another method.

Since the websites above only generate a single-page PDF that’s printer-friendly, I created a PDF file that has multiple pages so that it’s easier to make your own “notebook” of virtual staff paper.  I also created a version with cropped margins that’s more tablet-friendly.  You can find them here:

If you’re using a PDF from the web, bring up Safari on your iPad and tap on the link to the PDF file to display it in the browser.  Then tap “Open In…” in the top right corner and select the PDF annotation app you want to use:

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(If you’re importing a PDF file from Dropbox, you can use the Dropbox iPad app to navigate to your file and access the “Open In…” menu.)

For example, here is how to import the PDF file into Notability.  Tap on “Notability” in the “Open In…” menu.  Then tap on “Create new note”:

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Next, tap on “Ok” to accept the default page range:

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Your staff paper will be imported into Notability.  You can then use the annotation tools in Notability to write notation:

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Here is a screenshot of me using Notability’s zoom feature and palm guard for better precision and fewer stray marks while I’m writing the notation (I’m also using the Adonit Jot Pro stylus for better precision):

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Note the microphone icon in the upper right corner of the screenshot above.  Notability allows you to record audio and link it to your notes – a feature that may be handy when you’re writing music notation.

Alternatively, here’s how to import the PDF file into GoodReader.  In Safari’s “Open In…” menu, tap on GoodReader.  The file will be imported, and you can use GoodReader’s annotation tools to write in notation:

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The first time you attempt to write on the staff paper, you’ll get this prompt.  I suggest choosing the “Create an annotated copy” option.  That way, you can keep reusing your blank staff paper file in GoodReader to create new documents.

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Like Notability, GoodReader also has a zoom and palm guard feature:

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If you use forScore as your PDF music score reader, you could even import the staff paper directly into forScore and then use forScore’s annotation tools to write in music notation.  That way, your handwritten score goes straight into  forScore’s music library where you can organize it with the rest of your scores.

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This is Part 1 in a three-part series on virtual music staff paper for your iPad or tablet.  Read Part 2, Virtual music staff paper for your iPad/tablet, method #2: PDF files.

There’s been a lot of hubbub lately about up-and-coming high-tech ways to handwrite music notation into your iPad.  In the meantime, let’s discuss some lower-tech (relatively speaking!) methods for writing on virtual staff paper on your iPad.  Over the next few posts, I’ll cover some different methods for doing this, starting with the note-taking app Penultimate.  Here is my video demo of how to set up Penultimate with staff paper.  Note that this is an iPad-only app and it requires paying a few bucks for the app and the staff paper download.  [UPDATE 3/24/13: In the comments section of this post, blog reader Brian reports that you can get free staff paper for Penultimate from]

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In this video (6:33), violinist David Kim, concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra, shares humorous horror stories about paper sheet music at gigs, and how it spurred him to go digital with his sheet music.  Good info here for those who are weighing the possibility of transitioning to reading music from a tablet and what it’s like:

(I also posted the above video to my Pinterest pinboard, Sheet Music on iPads and Tablets.)

He also has some basic how-to videos on getting started with sheet music on an iPad:

(For more in-depth tutorials, check out my video tutorials on forScore for iPad.)

Lastly, in the videos below, Kim talks about his user experience with the AirTurn Bluetooth page-turning pedal.  Disclosure: the videos are produced by the folks affiliated with AirTurn.  Regardless, Kim gives useful insights from a product review standpoint.

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