Digital music desk--playing from an iPad

For those of you who play from an iPad on your music desk, rather than printed music, what specific hardware and software do you use?

I already have a large iPad, but need to know how you transfer your score to the iPad, how you make fingering and other notations, what sort of pedal you use to turn pages, etc.

Thanks for your help.

Jay McCarty

I use the ForScore app. It has the ability to download any pdf to the Ipad from many services (I use Dropbox).
You can add annotations with the Apple Pencil and, if you wish, upload your marked pdf back to DropBox for backup. You can enlarge or crop the pages to make maximum use of the screen, as well as view in either landscape or portrait mode.

For the pedal, I use the AirTurn BT-200. You can advance the page forward or backward.

Both have been very reliable for me. Before performing, ensure that your iPad is isolated from the internet and the cell network, and also ensure no notifications (like for example the calendar) use pop-up notifications. I and several of my colleagues learned that lesson the hard way.

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I use ForScore. It takes pdfs. Small ones I transfer as email attachments, and larger ones I put in the cloud and downloadto the iPad. For turning the pages I have a bluetooth device with two pedals: AirTurn Duo.


Thanks to Jay for raising this question, and to the two people who’ve replied so far.

I am one of those who make a lot of notations, including fingerings, on my scores. Picking up a pencil is easy. So I’d like to know exactly what is involved in doing this digitally. For example, do you have to change to a separate layer for entering fingerings? Before I make a large investment in hardware, I’d like to know that it’s as easy to work with on the iPad as on a paper score.

Let me suggest Newzik
I used to use both Newzik and ForScore. They are equivalent. I finally chose Newzik because all scores, all annotations are in the cloud and I can use them on all my devices. One day I forgot my iPad before a concert : I just used my phone to send everything to the iPad of my assistant…
They also have an excellent online assistance.
Newzik is extremely versatile, smart and easy.

IMO, using the Apple pencil on a ForScore pdf is superior to any real paper markings…

For starters, I can handwrite as clearly as I can with paper (actually my handwriting is rotten, but no worse for being electronic). You can also enter formatted text or numbers or graphics like circles and x’s. You can write in different colors (I like red for most markings, green for registrations, and purple for “just pay attention” places). Fingerings and figures are easy.

You can erase any of these entries.

The markings are stored separately from the pdf so that you can always go back to the original if you wish. OTOH, when you export, you can either export the original pdf without markings, export a pdf with the markings integrated into the pdf (which means they are no longer directly editable), or export a file in native ForScore format, so that you can continue to edit the markings.


I also use ForScore. The more recent iPads - I think version 3 and up -
have facial recognition and you can use a facial gesture such as pursing
your lips to turn pages. This feature requires a yearly subscription to
the ForScore program, though; I forget how much, maybe $30/year. My iPad
is Historically Informed, unfortunately, and doesn’t have facial

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Thank you so much to everyone who replied. This is very useful information.


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I am compelled to say that Couperin advises us to practice with a mirror in order to avoid making faces and grimaces while playing. :slight_smile:

And while I am here, I have not had to send a Freddo Frog to anybody yet.

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Yes, I had the same Couperin association about grimaces, tics and mirrors. Maybe the app can recognize expressions of superior elegance and these facial agréments can be used to prompt page turns. Maybe you can even programme different expressions for each page-turn.

I’m tempted to quit the jackrail and rejoin, just to get the Freddo. :frog: Expect that doesn’t count though.

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Dear James et al

Australian Chamber Orchestra has been performing from iPads for a while, but for a good overview of what keyboardists can do, you might like to check young Sydney organist Titus Grenyer’s YouTube video on his Pep Organ channel, where he unboxes his wifi 256GB 12.9˝ iPad Pro and demonstrates his page turning technique using ForScore:



To add to this thread: I use TinyScanner (app) to scan printed music using my iPad. The app costs a few dollars, and it allows you to make pretty good scans (adjusting the crop on each page), in colour or black and white. You can set it to upload to your Google Drive, and from there it is easy to import the file into ForScore. ForScore has functionality for renaming files, organizing music in folders by composer etc.

Did someone mention that ForScore does half page turns? That is a brilliant feature.