Music & Mobile Devices


Musicians are now using mobile devices to participate in music lessons from a teacher over the Internet and to simplify the number of items in their gig bags. An iPhone, iPad, or tablet can easily substitute for a tuner or metronome and weighs considerably less than multiple binders of gig music. Alice Freeman uses an iPad for teaching students and for bringing music to all her events. She easily carries with her more than 20 hours of harp music and over 6 hours of hammered dulcimer music.

Here are some of the advantages for putting your music on a mobile device:

  • When your music is all on a mobile device, you have much more flexibility in gracefully accommodating events that start late or go on for far longer than originally anticipated. 
  • It is easy to locate music for special requests. 
  • The same tunes can be put in multiple setlists for various occasions.
  • The backlit screens are helpful in poorly lit locations, eliminating the need for stand lights. 
  • You can play indoors or outside and no longer need clothespins or wind clips. 
  • Foot pedals leave hands free for playing and page turns are significantly faster compared to turning physical pages. 
  • You always have a clock in front of you.
  • PDFs are becoming cheaper to buy than many music books and you can buy individual pieces from some books (as opposed to buying the whole book).
  • You look sharp using current technology and you travel light.

Here are some disadvantages to consider:

  • All music must be put in PDF format before up-loading into the music-reading program on the mobile device. There can be a learning curve for becoming comfortable with preparing and organizing your music.
  • The reading distance to the mobile device varies for each player; some people may not be able to bring the device close enough to be able to read the music comfortably. Turning the device horizontally can make half pages larger and easier to read, but will increase the number of page turns.
  • Usually, only one page at a time can be seen, so page turns will occur twice as often as with traditional music books and the pages will be smaller in size.
  • The screen can be challenging to read in bright sunlight but if you find a shady area and can tilt the mobile device screen, it will be fine. Non-glare screen protectors can be purchased but may be rendered useless if you wear polarized sunglasses.
  • Mobile devices will overheat and shut down when exposed to direct sunlight for significant periods of time.

Never-the-less, using a mobile device can greatly simplify a musician's life and these pages contain information which will be helpful in getting started.