Downloading digital sheet music

While at her local Nordstrom’s Department Store, my friend spotted the piano player using a MusicPad Pro for his sheet music. It’s a digital device, much like a Kindle, that can hook to a special music stand or be carted around like a single piece of sheet music. Officially, the product is a “music performance computer tablet.” My friend called me immediately to tell me about this space-saving and organized device.

Digital sheet music for the MusicPad Pro can be purchased and downloaded from the website FreeHandMusic.com. If I understand the information on the website, there is also a subscription service where users can have continuous access to a music library for around $50 per month.

Upon further research, I’ve learned that my comparison of the Music Pad Pro to a Kindle is actually quite common — so common in fact that FreeHandMusic has now made their sheet music available for purchase on the Kindle. Since the MusicPad Pro retails for around $900 and the Kindle around $300, I believe the Kindle is a better deal since it also has the ability to download books, magazines, newspapers, blogs, etc. However, you can scan your existing sheet music into the MusicPad Pro and you can annotate and make notes on page — neither of which you can do on a Kindle.

Irrespective of which digital device might be of interest, I think both are an organized solution for young musicians who are just starting to acquire a sheet music collection. If digitizing your sheet music collection isn’t your forte, you might consider spiral binding your music.

(Image of the MusicPad Pro via FreeHandMusic.com)

18 Comments for “Downloading digital sheet music”

  1. posted by Downloading digital sheet music | Unclutterer | Wildtonemusic on

    [...] the rest here:  Downloading digital sheet music | Unclutterer Posted in Talk About Music | August 26th, 2009 Leave a [...]

  2. posted by Hatch on

    I love Unitasker Wednesday! Oh, wait. My bad. :-P

  3. posted by Sarah on

    In addition to MusicPad, there is another product called eStand.

    Sheet music on Kindle is decidedly sub-optimal:

    http://tinyurl.com/lwyt73

  4. posted by Sandy on

    Why would you not be able to scan existing sheet music onto a Kindle? I’d think if you had the Kindle DX (which you’d want anyway, for the larger size), I’m pretty sure you could scan to pdf and put the scanned music on it, no problem. And I’ve heard the DX also does notes/highlighting…

  5. posted by Marco on

    There is also another alternative:
    http://www.musicreader.net
    This runs on any Tablet PC, laptop or desktop running Windows XP/Vista or Mac OS X.

  6. posted by Greg on

    One of the features the MusicPad has over the Kindle is that it allows you to connect a foot pedal to turn “pages” without taking your hands off your instrument. Not exactly worth a $600 upgrade, though.

  7. posted by Rue on

    Wow, if this weren’t so expensive I would seriously consider buying one for my husband. I wonder what kind of selection they have of sheet music to actually purchase though.

  8. posted by dougR on

    Sandy, the copyright issues for printed music are unbelievably restrictive and complex. You can BUY sheet music in one of these electronic media, because presumably the copyright holders get paid, but just because you bought a paper copy of a piece of sheet music doesn’t mean you bought the rights to copy it, scan it, or upload it (or even perform it in public for a paying audience).

    Copyright is tough, and whatever you want to do with a piece of music you think you “own,” the answer is probably “Oh no you can’t.” (I’m speaking legally; if you’re alone in the xerox room, on the other hand, who’s to know?)

    Before I bought one of these electronic media, I’d want to know if they stock the kind of music I’m likely to want to play (or sing), and how big their library really is. I have literally bales of sheet music for several different instruments, and I doubt any of it would show up on these types of media. (I’ve always hoped that someday Unclutterer would feature storage and space-planning ideas for complicated instrumental studio setups, but it looks like no one has been playing or piling up musical clutter as long as I have!)

  9. posted by Rue on

    I stand corrected – they actually had over 1000 different scores for my husband’s instrument! I’m quite surprised.

  10. posted by Anita on

    I don’t know… $900 can buy a lot of sheet music…
    Basically, unless you’re wondering in which general direction to throw your money away next, I’d stick with paper.

    Also: if you have $900 to spare on a unitasking sheet music storage device, why not shell out the money for a tablet laptop with (1) a bigger screen, (2) more storage capacity, plus (3) all the features of a regular laptop. Just saying…

  11. posted by Josiah Kiehl on

    I agree: get some proper music software and run it on a real tablet.

    I’d be interested to see a comparison between those two, as opposed to the Kindle. Tablets these days can run upwards of 6-8hrs in the $900 price range and actually be a full fledged laptop for other purposes.

  12. posted by Mark on

    I actually own a Music Pad Pro. I used it all the time (when I worked as a choir accompanist for my church.) I loved the “turn the page with a foot pedal” feature. You could even program song repeats, codas, etc. No more music flying off the piano or leaving notes out to turn pages. Unfortunately, the touch screen went haywire and I haven’t replaced it yet. I am looking into other options (like the e-stand or a tablet), but the foot-pedal-page-turn is a must for me. It was also helpful to have my full collection of sheet music with me wherever I took my MPP. A USB drive is much lighter than the 7 file boxes of sheet music I own.

  13. posted by Daniel on

    There seem to be a few alternatives for the iPhone as well, both for sheet music and tabs. Not very “Pro” but still helpful for the eventual player (as myself).

  14. posted by Jason on

    I bought Digital Music Players & Accessories Sansa 3 In 1 Fuse Kit a few weeks before christmas as my own present from http://www.dealsshoppie.com/pr.....1+Fuse+Kit! I love this thing and someone will probably have to pry it from my cold dead hands some day. 4.0 was the overall score given to the product by 17 users. I found this information to be very helpful and give the product a thumbs up.

  15. posted by Peter on

    The largest archive to download sheet music in pdf format:
    http://www.imslp.org. It replaces any commercial initiative.

  16. posted by Leslie on

    An interesting review of sheet music on the Kindle from one of my listservs: http://furmanmusiclibrary.blog.....ments.html.

    I haven’t ever been able to hold a Kindle in my hands, but just looking at the dimensions listed on Amazon it seems like it would be too small for actual performance use. Good for score study though perhaps.

    I like the idea of being able to make notes in the music, so in that sense Music Pad pro appeals to me, but it does seem awfully expensive for what it does. Especially considering that it only has 32 MB of internal storage.

    I think it’s going to take a significant increase in functionality and decrease in price before I’ll be moving to digital music.

  17. posted by Halley on

    As a full-time, professional musician, I think it would be awesome to have some sort of device that would condense the music that I bring to events and make it neat and tidy, etc. However, I think this device would only be suitable for a very, very small percentage of musicians.

    For it to even be functional to me, I would need it to be about 11″ x 17″ (two pages worth of sheet music) – totally disregarding the fact that since you can’t import your own music into it, it would be useless for most of my “more obscure” medieval and celtic music which is difficult to find, even on the internet.

  18. posted by HeartSongs » Surfer Sunday 118 on

    [...] I. want. this! ;) [...]

Comments are closed.