More and more musicians are making the switch to using an iPad or tablet into their practice routine. Before I jumped on the iPad bandwagon, I was nervous about using an iPad to practice flute. I love the feel of real sheet music and it's easy to read on the music stand, but since I travel a lot an iPad seemed to make more sense.
After over a year of using an iPad in the practice room, I've learned a lot about what works for me and what doesn't. If you're on the fence about taking this step in your practice routine, here's what you need to know:
Pro: It makes carrying your sheet music easier.
I teach in a different city and different building depending on the day and time of the week. And with up to 13 students in one day, it was difficult to carry all of the books my students were working on. I also wanted to use my down time productively, but I often avoided bringing my own practice music to make my backpack a little lighter.
Now that I use an iPad, I can carry my entire music library in one place, making my carrying load so much lighter! I'm always prepared for teaching, and I know that I can practice anything in between lessons.
Pro: It's easier to keep track of practice progress.
Since digitizing my music library, I've found myself taking more notes both on my sheet music and in my practice journal. My Apple pencil stays charged and with my iPad at all times, so I don't ever worry about forgetting a pencil in the practice room.
From the Notes app to apps specifically tailored to musicians, having an iPad helps me organize any observations, notes, and goals in one place so I can always remember what I'm working on and what my goals are.
Con: Turning pages takes some getting used to.
As convenient as it is to have my music library on one device, the one thing I'm still getting used to is turning pages while playing the flute. You can't always tap the screen for a page turn, especially when you still have notes to play.
For efficient page turning with the iPad, you'll need to buy a separate Bluetooth pedal. It's easy enough to connect and I rarely need to charge it, but as a clumsy person I don't always hit the right pedal.
When I first started using the Bluetooth pedal for concerts, I definitely had a few freak out moments because I flipped too many pages or in the wrong direction. So if you're making the switch to iPad for sheet music, make sure to practice using it before you break it out on stage.
Con: If your iPad is low on battery, it can change your practice plans.
Even though iPads are generally good at keeping a charge, the last thing you want is setting up your flute, taking out your iPad, and realizing that it's dead or barely has any juice left.
On my longest days I teach from 8am to 8pm, with my own practice sessions in between. My iPad screen is on for about 8 of those 12 hours, and by the end of the day it's usually on 20-30% battery.
I also keep my iPad on airplane mode when I can, which helps save battery. But I'd add a charger to your flute bag or practice kit if you decide to use an iPad.
Pro: An iPad can support many parts of your practice sessions.
Using an iPad to store your music library is one thing a phone can't really do for you because of the small screen. But an iPad can do everything else, and it can keep it all in one place.
I use my iPad as a tuner and metronome, and when I'm doing score study I use Spotify or YouTube to listen and follow along with the sheet music. I keep notes in my sheet music app and record practice sessions to listen back later.
It's great to have everything in one place so I can keep my phone in my pocket a stay focused during practice. I even limit the apps I keep on my iPad to lower temptation to scroll on random apps.
Final Flute Notes
Just like anything, there are pros and cons to using an iPad to practice flute. And since your practice routine is unique to you, switching to an iPad may or may not work for you. If you're serious about testing it out, be on the lookout for price deals before you drop a lot of money on an iPad.
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