Can You Use an Ipad or Tablet for Guitar Practice?
Technology can be of great help in many areas of life. It can save us time, keep us organized, and more.
But technology can also be a distraction and add unnecessary complexity.
So when it comes to guitar practice, should you use an iPad or tablet for your music? Below you’ll discover points to consider.
Everything you need in one spot
As we spend time learning guitar, we collect books, sheet music, tips sheets and more. Each piece we’re currently working on may be in a different book or a loose page.
Now imagine if you could have every piece you have ever played and may want to play in one convenient place.
This is one of the many benefits of using a tablet. You can save each score to an app and create a searchable digital library.
It gets even better. Apps like ForScore allow you to create “Set Lists” of different pieces. This means you don’t need to flip through your entire library to find a piece. You can instead group all the pieces you are working on and have them in one spot.
The great guitarist Julian Bream would travel with a briefcase full of the scores he was playing and working on. Imagine the ease of trading all of that in for one simple app.
And if you keep a music journal, metronome, or timer, these can also be close at hand on a tablet.
Musical scores can be hard on the eyes.
Each publisher may print in a different font or size. And historical scores may be handwritten in small and hard-to-read notes.
With tablets, we can expand the image on the screen. We can enlarge the notes to a comfortable size.
Regardless of which tablet you use, this feature will come as a relief to your eyes.
And the bigger the screen, the bigger the notes. On some tablets, like the iPad Pro, the font can often seem bigger than the printed version of the score.
In longer pieces, page-turns can present challenges. As we use both hands to play guitar, reaching up to turn a page can create awkward moments.
This is all avoidable with a Bluetooth foot pedal. They connect to a tablet and allow you to turn the page without having to grab a piece of paper or touch the screen.
Your page-turns now become hands-free.
Various Bluetooth page-turners are available for sale. Two brands that we recommend are AirTurn and PageFlip. AirTurn uses a rechargeable internal battery.
PageFlip uses AA batteries and is more sensitive than AirTurn. This can be better for performance situations where we need to act quickly and be ready for anything.
A great add-on are the different writing options we have on tablets. “Pens” and “pencils” for tablets continue to improve.
We can write on the music and erase it later without damaging the paper or causing a mess.
In fact, many graphic designers now use tablets as their main tool because of the precision and detail of the “pencils”.
More Benefits of Using an iPad or Tablet for Sheet Music:
Rename files – In most apps you can rename files. Use this feature to create a searchable and easy to remember name to recall the piece down the road.
Go forward, not backward – Most apps will let you rearrange the order of the score. To avoid scrolling issues, arrange your score to move forward. This means duplicating any pages that repeat. By doing this, you won’t need to jump back 3 pages or remember exactly where you need to go while playing…you only need to go to the next page.
Use the Metronome – Many score-reading apps have built-in metronomes. You can also download separate metronome apps. Having a different app will allow you to set it in the background.
Download pdfs directly from the web – You can download many PDFs of free sheet music for guitar right into an app. There is no need to print them or have them in different places.
Write your own scores – This ability is improving each day. It is only a matter of time until we can create professional-looking scores from hand-written notes.
Travel-friendly – Most tablet-users will take their tablets on any trip. This way, your music scores are always available for visualization and silent practice.
NOTE: Avoid “Music Specific” tablets – These products are by definition limited. And much of the advances in software will be be on the mainstream tablets, such as iPad or Galaxy.
The Other Side of the Coin
The top danger of using an iPad or tablet for guitar practice is distraction. We can easily spend more time fiddling with the tablet than playing guitar.
We may be tempted to google something, watch a video, read a tutorial. While these are great, they should be done outside of practice-time. Ideally, we jot a reminder and get back to practice.
To reduce distraction, we can turn off notifications, and set the page lock to keep the orientation steady.
There are also inherent risks in storing our music in digital format. We must ensure that everything stays backed up to a cloud server. Still, our music is probably safer here than as paper, which can burn, soak, or rot.
But there is also something nice about paper. We can relish the analog nature of learning music from a page , with pencil marks and coffee stains. And sheet music can act as a visual reminder to practice.
Either way, the most important part is that we actually practice. Paper and tablets are just tools and storage mediums. Whatever form we decide, the practice itself is the real game.
Here is a list of products we personally use. If you buy using a link below, CGS may earn a small commission without costing you any extra.
Tablet – iPad Pro (the bigger the better)
Pencil – Apple Pencil (whichever version is compatible with your tablet)
Foot Pedal – AirTurn DUO or PageFlip FireFly
App – ForScore (This is only for Apple products, but widely considered the best available). It is a one-time purchase so you receive free upgrades for life.
Hi, I’m Allen Mathews.
I started as a folk guitarist, then fell in love with classical guitar in my 20’s. Despite a lot of practice and schooling, I still couldn’t get my music to flow well. I struggled with excess tension. My music sounded forced. And my hands and body were often sore. I got frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward. Then, over the next decade, I studied with two other stellar teachers – one focused on the technical movements, and one on the musical (he was a concert pianist). In time, I came to discover a new set of formulas and movements. These brought new life and vitality to my practice. Now I help guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully.
Click here for a sample formula.
Click the button to take a step towards an
organized, effective guitar practice. >>>