Digital Sheet Music Readers

Digital Sheet Music?

I consider myself to be more tech savvy than the average person, yet the one pastime that I dedicate much of my free time to is about as technology free as you can get. My flute and piccolo are completely manual, no batteries, no cords, no solar panels. Every Wednesday night I get together with about 75 other like-minded hobbyists who blow on reeds, buzz mouthpieces, bang on membranes and wiggle their fingers all for the fun of making music. Can you think of anything else in this digital age that’s as technology free as playing in a concert band?

If that’s not primitive enough, consider our music. It’s printed on paper!

At work we’re continually striving for a paperless office, and little by little we’re approaching that goal. E-mail is the preferred means of written correspondence, all but driving the US Postal Service into financial ruin. Adobe and Microsoft products have revolutionized how we do business with online documents and collaboration with our colleagues in other states. But in the practice room and rehearsal space, the little black notes are all on paper. We carry that paper around in a folder. We keep that folder manually alphabetized for quicker music retrieval. There is no sort button; it’s all done by hand. Does anything ever get lost or misfiled? All the time.

For years now, I’ve been saying to my husband how nice it would be to have some Kindle-like device to store all of my music. No more shuffling through dozens of (not always) alphabetized sheets of varying sizes. No more storing my music collection in a cardboard box in the damp basement. No more wind clips or Plexiglas at outdoor concerts. Someone really ought to invent a digital sheet music reader.

Well, of course it’s already been invented. In fact there are several options available to the tech savvy musician ranging from relatively inexpensive software downloads to complete packages that can network an entire ensemble. My personal favorite is MusicReaderTM.

MusicReaderTM offers a software package that can be downloaded to any computer or device that uses a Windows or Mac operating system. Starting at around $36 for the basic package, the MusicReaderTM is an economical way to start using digital sheet music. Any hard copy music that you already own can be scanned into your MusicReaderTM. New music purchases can be downloaded inexpensively as the distributer can avoid the cost of printing and shipping. Some works that are out of copyright are even available for free. Best of all, you don’t have to drive to the music store or wait for your order to be delivered. You get instant, inexpensive gratification.

If you use a tablet PC or Apple iPad to access your digital music, you can place your tablet directly on a music stand and your entire music library is right there. For devices with a touch sensitive screen you can turn pages with a swipe of the finger. Don’t own a tablet? Neither do I, but I own digital sheet music which I play using my laptop. The landscape orientation of a laptop allows for two pages to display at the same time. With my laptop I need to use the mouse to flip pages, but that’s manageable in the practice room. If you wish, you can purchase a pedal to turn pages.

MusicReaderTM offers a Pro version and a Basic version of their software. For around $60 you can enjoy the full functionality of MusicReaderTM Pro. For those of you on a budget, the Basic version will cost you around $36. The MusicReaderTM website maintains a database of digital sheet music from various sources, including hundreds of works for flute. Many of these works are out of copyright and are available for download free of charge. What a great way to beef up your music library without breaking the bank!

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