If you're new to using an iPad to read sheet music, it can feel like a lot of work to transfer your physical sheet music library to a digital platform. Although it may take some time depending on the size of your library, the good news is that there are plenty of apps and methods to make the transfer a little easier and cheap to manage.
Here are the steps and apps I used when transferring my sheet music library to my iPad:
Step 1: Find a cloud service app.
You will need an app with plenty of storage to store a digital back up of all the PDFs you are about to upload. I use Microsoft OneDrive with 1TB of storage since I get it for free through the college I work for. Students usually get the same perk through their school email, but make sure that you have a back up for after you graduate or are no longer in school.
Even though you'll end up using a separate app to read and notate your sheet music PDFs, you never know what will happen with technology so it's better to have the back up.
Step 2: Find a scanning app.
There are many scanning apps out there that do the same thing, so if you already have a scanning app you trust then you're a step ahead! I use Genius Scan which has a free and paid version. The free version works just as well and does just what you need it to do.
Once you've downloaded a scanning app, the rest is easy. Pick a piece of sheet music and start taking pictures of your music pages! Genius Scan automatically detects the page edges and will crop it. You can edit the photo to crop it the way you want, and name the PDF the title of the piece.
Step 3: Export your PDFs to the cloud service.
You can start this step at any point. I usually scan and rename several pieces and books and then export them to OneDrive all at once. Regardless of the cloud service you use, you can pick which folder to upload to and even make a shortcut that will automatically export your PDFs to your desired location.
Step 4: Find a sheet music app.
Again, there are many free and paid apps for reading and notating sheet music. After trying a few I ended up sticking with the ForScore app because I liked the layout and it was user friendly for me. You don't have to spend money on a sheet music app if you don't want to, and it's okay to shop around to find one you like since you'll be using it all the time.
Step 5: Download your PDFs to your sheet music app.
Now that you've chosen your sheet music app, you can start downloading your PDFs from your cloud drive to the sheet music app. This can be done all at once or in small groups - I recommend small groups so the downloading time is quicker.
Step 6: Organize your digital sheet music library!
For me, this is the fun part because I'm an organization queen. I have my digital library sorted into different libraries (flute, piano, and orchestral music), and most sheet music apps will allow you to create setlists. I have a setlist for every student I teach with their current music, setlists for recitals I'm preparing, and a setlist for my personal practice routine.
You can get as simple or creative as you want when organizing your digital library, so have fun exploring what works best for you!
Step 7: Practice and perform with iPad sheet music.
Once you've got your digital library uploaded and organized, you can enjoy the perks of carrying your entire library around in one tablet. Explore the different notation options and rest easy knowing that you'll never lose a piece of music again or have a page fly away during an outdoor performance!
Final Flute Notes
After you find the apps you'll use to create your digital sheet music library, it's easy to replicate the process to digitize sheet music you'll buy in the future. Have fun with it and happy practicing!
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