or a worship pianist, an iPad can solve an abundance of non-musical problems that can happen at any moment in the worship service. From pages that get blown away when the air conditioning kicks on, to lost music, to lead sheets that are out of order, there is always something that can go wrong. But with a little prep and planning, a handful of practice, and an open mind, these problems can be prevented and solved with your iPad and a few basic apps.
Test drive the perfect music reader. Apps abound as far as music readers go. There are plenty to choose from – many are free, though some charge a nominal fee. With most of these apps, you can easily transfer your music in PDF format from email, webpages, Dropbox, or online music stores. Once you’ve loaded your music, you can edit individual pieces by copying, pasting, and deleting pages, adding type, music symbols, handwritten notes, and links to connect repeated sections. You might find it helpful to group pieces together to create set lists, which you can save for future use. You could keep a standard wedding set, a set of favorite hymns, and a handful of offerties on hand at all times. You can keep plenty of repertoires easily accessible for those special occasions when you need some extra pieces in a hurry – and you won’t have to carry a great big bag of music along with you everywhere you go. You can book mark pages, swipe or tap to turn pages, crop, and so much more. Every app has different features, so you might want to test drive a few until you find just the right one to suit your needs. Functions to look for include in-app metronomes, recordings, music purchases, gesture page turning, and editing features. Some music reader apps can link to and control the same app on other iPads, so you could turn the entire worship team’s pages from your own tablet. Or have your music linked directly to YouTube content that demonstrates just the song you are searching for.
Tip: If you’ll be storing a lot of music on you iPad, choose one with as much memory as you can afford. Then you won’t have to delete old music to add new. Large PDF’s can take a long time to load, so you may need to adjust the quality of your PDF or break large works into smaller pieces for ease of use.
Suggested apps: ForScore, NextPage, The Gig Easy, Etude by Steinway.
Turn pages hands free. This might just revolutionize your piano playing! No more long strings of photocopied pages, no more harried page flips in between passages, and no more squeezing in next to your page turner in a tight spot. Bluetooth powered foot pedals will enable you to turn pages hands free. Two pedals enable you to flip pages forwards and backwards, meaning you don’t have to take your hands away from the keyboard to flip or swipe a page. This is especially helpful for those oompa pieces with stride bass or those octavos where the pianist just doesn’t get a break to turn the page. Most music reader apps are compatible with Bluetooth pedals, but you might want to check yours just to be sure.
Tip: Practice, practice, practice! It takes a little coordination to get the timing and page turns just right, so give yourself plenty of time to practice before using it in worship or at a performance.
Suggested product: AirTurn Bluetooth Pedal
Practice with a more sophisticated metronome. Digital metronomes have been around for quite a while, but now there is a more sophisticated means of practicing your worship music. iPad metronomes give you the ability to preprogram entire pieces and even song sets, so you can account for changing meters and partial measures. Set the metronome to a variety of sounds and flashes. Do you want to subdivide beats into eighth or sixteenth notes? Add swing? Accent the downbeat? Now you can.
Tips: Connect your iPad to an external speaker if you can’t hear the metronome over your playing.
Suggested apps: Tempo by Frozen Ape
Control your lyric presentations. You can connect your iPad to your overhead projector and lead your song sets right from your tablet. Purchase pre-progammed worship songs to go with your specific app. These songs might include lead sheets, chord charts, background tracks, practice tracks, lyrics for projection, and backgrounds to match. This means you can project the lyrics while singing and playing along with popular worship tunes. You can create sets and arrange the song to fit your needs, including playing along with a click-track or split-track, depending on your app.
Tips: Most apps require a CCLI number to track music usage, but you can download a trial song to see if the app fits your needs before making a commitment.
Suggested apps: iSingWorship, Worship Band in Hand
What else can you do? Download apps that will help you practice ear training, sight reading, music notation, and music arranging. You could record your practice sessions for review, teach private lessons via FaceTime, and keep your music library organized on your device. Use a repertoire tracker to track how often you play a piece in worship, and search the web to add new, challenging pieces to your worship music sets. With a little creativity and some practice, you’ll be able to solve those pesky worship music problems before they happen.
Amanda has a heart for helping people connect with God through music and the Word of God. Amanda is a licensed pastor at a local Baptist Church and is finishing her Master of Divinity at Liberty Theological Seminary. Amanda also serves as a worship pianist at Bethany United Methodist Church in Pennsylvania and as a guest preacher at local churches. She is a free-lance writer, piano teacher, and cosmetologist. Amanda has led worship in a variety of settings, including women’s ministry events and as music pastor in previous churches. Amanda has a passion for Jesus, foster care and adoption, helping families touched by autism and special needs both in the home and at church, music, the Word, and photography. She is happily married to Rich and blessed to be a mom to 5.
Catch up with Amanda at www.thebeautifulblog.com and www.twitter.com/beautifulmanda.