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From Pixels to Paper | eBook review – All about music reading software

By Tim Topham | Technology

Jul 11 2014

music reading software

Everything you need to know but were afraid to ask about using technology to read/access/create music!

I have to admit that I wasn’t sure that I could learn much more about using technology to view sheet music – it’s something I’ve done with my iPad for years. I’ve blogged about it, I’ve taught others how to do it and I use my iPad just about every day in my performing or teaching roles.

But I now realise, having read this book, that there is plenty I didn’t know!

For example, being an iPad user, I’ve never been much help to people asking questions about Android devices. This book covers apps and accessories for all devices in depth.

I also haven’t used that many accessories for performing – pedals, stands, page-turners (until recently: see my article about AirTurn here), etc. Did you know that some musicians need to be able to turn pages with a bite controller in their mouth? Can you work out what instrument that is?

I’ve also settled very much on forScore as my music viewer so when it comes to helping people with other apps, I’m at a loss. This book taught me about a whole lot of apps I didn’t even know existed.

In fact, I had trouble putting it down. That’s saying a lot for an instructional text!

What is it?ipad piano apps

From Pixels to Paper is a comprehensive, but easy-to-read encyclopaedia about everything to do with music reading software and hardware. Note that I didn’t mention “iPad”. As mentioned above, this book includes a heap of great information about Android tablets and apps and using the internet and Mac/PC computers for music reading. 

The book is full of hundreds of links to websites where you can buy accessories and find more information. Best of all, if you buy the printed version, it comes with QR codes that you can scan so you don’t have to type in all the web addresses – very handy!

There is also a great section about how to scan your scores (did you know you can buy automated book scanning robots or send your books to an online place that will digitise them for you?) and how to get that information into your reader. This is vital information that I often get asked about during conferences and presentations.

There are also great interviews with real-world musicians about how they’ve been using technology for score reading.

music reading softwareSome interesting chapters

Here’s some of the more interesting chapters (from Airturn’s blog: GOING DIGITAL FOR MUSICIANS):

  • Chapter 9: Transferring Digital Sheet Music to an Android Tablet (we cover using email, a USB cable, and thumb drives)
  • Chapter 18: Screen Aspect Ratios (a geeky way of explaining how the shape of a computer/tablet screen affects the view of scanned paper music)
  • Chapter 24: Set Lists (and my favorite section title of the book on p. 202, “Bwahahahaha! The Evil Megalomaniacal Set-List Manager” – this talks about apps where you can have one master iPad actually control the opening of songs and even page turns on several slave iPads. Gives a whole new meaning to “keeping everyone on the same page”, eh?)
  • Chapter 33: Creating Musical Notation Content (covers various software options for creating traditional music notation compositions, including web-based applications, commercial and open-source software, and a category I call “free-play” software.  Oh, and we also take a brief look at the hardware needed to make all this work.)
  • Chapter 35: Controllers: Expanding Ways to Work With your Computer (this is the chapter that gets into the story of how I came up with pedals for turning digital sheet music pages hands free)

At this point, I should probably share a caveat. The book is written by one of the founders of AirTurn – the bluetooth page turning pedal. However I was pleasantly surprised that this wasn’t one big sales pitch like some other eBooks that are sponsored by product manufacturers. The AirTurn is, of course mentioned, but only in context.

Conclusion

This book is perfect for:

  • Performers, students and teachers of any instrument who would like to know more about using technology
  • Teachers who are just getting started with technology and need help and guidance
  • Teachers, like me, who thought they knew it all!

In summary, you’ll find a whole lot of info relevant to all sorts of digital music: reading, playing, notating, etc. If you’ve got an Android device, you’ve probably had trouble finding information about music apps in this iPad-centric field. If so, this book will be a God-send.

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy, please use one of the following links:

From Paper to Pixels
From Paper to Pixels – Paperback

Or get the Kindle download via Amazon:

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary download of this eBook for evaluation purposes. I was not required to write a favourable review and all opinions expressed are my own. Please note that links are affiliate links meaning that I will get a small commission on any sales made via this post. 

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Tim Topham

About the Author

Tim Topham is the founder and director of TopMusic. Tim hosts the popular TopCast show, blogs regularly at topmusic.co and speaks at local and international conferences on topics such as pedagogy, business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Tim has been featured in American Music Teacher, The Piano Teacher Magazine, California Music Teacher and EPTA Piano Professional. Tim holds an MBA in Educational Leadership, BMus, DipEd and AMusA.