iPad Mini Sheet Music Reader Update

Back in December of 2012 I wrote a blog post about Why I Switched to an iPad Mini. In that post I talked about whether the iPad mini was big enough to be used as a sheet music reader. The conclusion that I came to back then was that for my use at the time the smaller screen of the iPad mini was big enough. Now, 6-months later, I wanted to post an update on that conclusion.

My Use Of an iPad Sheet Music Reader

My main use case for an iPad sheet music reader is during church when I play piano and keyboards during mass. We play mostly contemporary music, so much of our music ends up being lead sheets (chords) and lyrics. I place the iPad on the music stand of the piano and my PageFlip Cicada bluetooth pedal (used to turn the pages on my iPad sheet music reader app) on the floor to the left of the 3 piano pedals. The sheet music reading application on iPad that I use is an app called DeepDish GigBook. However, recently our group of musicians and singers at church has changed significantly. So I am now playing more keyboards than piano and our source of music has changed such that we are now using more melody based sheet music instead of lead sheets. Another complication is that the music stand of the set of keyboards I play on is much further away from my face, so the smaller size of the iPad mini combined with non-lead sheet format was making it difficult to read.

My New iPad Sheet Music Reader Setup

When I switched over to an iPad mini I was doing it mostly because of how I was using the iPad at work and not so much because of how I was using it as a sheet music reader. My wife's original iPad (the one I passed down to her when I bought the iPad 2 for myself) was in serious need of replacement. So I bought an iPad mini and gave her my iPad 2. The only doubt I had about the iPad mini was with respect to using it as a sheet music reader. I was very confident that the smaller screen size of the mini would work well with all the other things I used my iPad for (email, task management/OmniFocus, mind-mapping, document creation, note-taking/writing, internet, gaming, etc...) and it has performed beautifully! But since my use case at church has changed I needed the bigger screen of the full-sized iPad. So I have switched to using my wife's iPad mini during church as a sheet music reader instead of my iPad mini. Here is how I am doing this:

  1. Main database of sheet music is still maintained within the DeepDish GigBook app on my iPad mini
  2. Create each week's set list on my iPad mini
  3. Export the set list to DropBox
  4. Import the set list from DropBox into the DeepDish GigBook app on my wife's iPad 2

So I have changed my view just slightly on how well an iPad mini can be used as a sheet music reader. It depends...Figure out exactly how you will be using your iPad as a sheet music reader and use your best judgement:

  • Exactly what type of sheet music are you going to be reading?
  • How far from your face is your iPad when you are reading it?
  • Is your use case (format of music or placement of the iPad while playing) likely to change?

I still plan to use the iPad mini as the main source for all my sheet music because in a pinch I can use it just fine as a sheet music reader and it is the iPad I take with me everywhere. But for my normally scheduled use at weekly mass I will be using my wife's full-sized iPad to take advantage of the extra screen real estate.

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