Posted tagged ‘ForScore’

Fake Music

April 4, 2015

pianoOnce upon a time, a friend was visiting me and we were talking about music. You see I play the piano and once in a while I play an organ. About a dozen years or so ago, I became our Lodge musician in my Masonic Lodge in Massachusetts. Now I am the musician for LA Harbor Lodge and San Pedro Chapter OES.

How does one become the organist or pianist for such an organization. First, you have to be able to play the piano. You don’t have to be an Rubenstein or Van Cliburn. You just have to like to play the piano or organ and competent enough to play some simple and straight forward tunes. Typically, I need to be able to play the “Star Spangled Banner” and other patriotic tunes, some bit of sacred music for opening and closing of the Bible and a variety of march music when the members are perambulating around the lodge room.

Second, the lodge or OES chapter has to have a need for a musician. I got the job because the guy who did it before me died. Sometimes the previous appointee had moved or lost interest in doing the job.

So my friend had seen some of my music books that I had at the time. One such tome was a book titles “Hymn Fake Book“. He asked me what a “Fake” Hymn was. I said no, not a fake hymn but hymn fake book. A fake book is a music book with the sheet music with only the music for your right hand. You have to improvise the accompaniment. So in addition to the hymn fake book there are fake books for Broadway, Show tunes, folk music, etc.

Lucky for me that I had learned this skill as a young lad from a music teacher that I worked with while I was in high school. He taught me how to play chords and to improvise an accompaniment. At the time, I didn’t think this skill would be particularly useful. Or that one day I would become a lodge organist.

So i have at least a dozen or so fake books covering a wide range of genres. They were a getting a bit heavy to carry to lodge for the evening’s meeting. I would eventually Xerox the particular music and add to my loose leaf notebooks. Even that began to get unwieldy.

Enter Apple. in 2010, Apple announced the iPad. I said to myself, I have to have one of these. So i drove up to the local Apple store in Nashua, NH and got an iPad 1. So I began the process of scanning my music pages and loading them on my Dropbox account in the Cloud. At first, it was a bit crude. I had files organized into folders according to genre, eg. hymns, patriotic, broadway, pop, etc.

People would look at the iPad and ask can you read music on that thing? In fact, I can and do. Although there is rumblings that Apple is working on a new iPad with a 12.5″ screen (current iPad has a 9″ screen, measured diagonally). I would buy one in a heartbeat if Apple came out with such a device.

As it stands right now, I am working on my third iPad. I had the iPad 1, then an iPad 3 and now an iPad Air.

My system of filing my music on Dropbox was getting cumbersome. So I got an app called “Forscore” that is designed for organizing sheet music. This app is absolutely worth the $9.99 I paid for it. I now have close to a 1000 different scores on my iPad. The music is organized by genre and keywords. New music is imported as PDF files from my Dropbox account.

I also buy music from which is a web site that sells sheet music. They have an extensive library of tunes from classical to pop to country. They also have a wide range of arrangements. I typically prefer to buy “Lead sheets” (which is the content of a fake book) because they are shorter and I don’t usually have to turn pages. Some of the arrangements come in multiple keys which is handy when you are working with a soloist.

When purchasing from Musicnotes, you download the music for printing. You get one chance to print it. But I have a printer driver that “Prints” to a PDF file that then can be uploaded onto my iPad. Musicnotes also has a free iPad app, but it is not nearly as capable as Forscore.

Apps, Apps, Apps

January 2, 2014

I thought I would write about my favorite apps that I use on both my iPhone and iPad this past year. These are the apps that I use most every day. So in no particular order. The hyper links in each section will take you to the appropriate iTunes App Store location.
 Waze is a GPS app for iPhone and iPad. Though I use it primarily with my iPhone. Waze uses the internet to provide real-time traffic updates. The only major drawback is that it needs a network connection to provide routing information. This happened to us last fall up in Kern County, CA which is in the middle of nowhere. The app is free that is to say it is supported by ads. When you pull up to a traffic light, it will let you know where a nearby business is.
 Evernote is more than just a note taking app. It is an total environment. The app itself is free, however you can get Evernote Pro for $5 per month or $45 per year that provides additional features like syncing with the cloud.
 There are Evernote apps for iPhone, iPad, PC, and Mac. So with syncing to the cloud you can seemlessly move a note from iPhone to PC, for example.
 There are many companion apps that integrate with Evernote. Recipe app called “Food” for managing recipes and restaurants. Sketch for doing drawings. There is a journaling app for keeping a daily journal.
 You can create multiple notebooks. You can create tags for easy search and retrieval. There is also a handy email connection that allows one to forward an email to your Evernote account on the network. There is an web clipping for all of the major web browsers.
 Where would I be without access to crosswords. There are several crossword apps available, but my favorite is Crosswords by Standalone, Inc. It provides many free subscriptions to quality crossword providers. You can also get subscriptions (for a fee) to NY Times. Difficulty levels range from easy to very difficult.
 Dropbox is cloud storage. I use it to store all of important files that I don’t want to lose. I use it for storing pictures, insurance files, financial documents, and sheet music files and much much more. Files get automatically stored in the cloud including pictures taken with your iCamera. If I recall correctly you get either 5 or 10 Gb for free. I get 100 Gb for $10 per month. There are dropbox apps for iPhone, iPad, PC, Mac and Android.
 ForScore is my music score management app. When I got my first iPad, I just used a PDF app for keeping my sheet music PDF files. I then discovered “Forscore”. I upload each PDF file from Dropbox. Then I add composer info, tags, genre (eg. pop, country, classical, etc.), key signature.
 I can create set lists for songs that I typically play during various parts of lodge meetings.
 ForScore is only available on iPad. Sorry Android fans.
 GroceryIQ is a shopping list app. It’s free, which is to say that it is ad supported. It is available for iPhone, iPad, PC, Mac and Android. It allows you to sync shopping lists between devices. You can scan barcodes in order to add items to your list. Only downside is you can’t scan is store brands.
 You can customize the app for each store’s aisles so that items appear in the proper order that you might find them in each store. It’s real handy to add items to the PC app and then have them available on the iPhone version.
 My only complaint is that when you add items for one store, and then go to a different store it is difficult to changer all of the items to the different store.
 PWsafe is an encrypted Pass Word Safe. Today it is very difficult to remember all of one’s passwords to a multitude of web sites. This app makes it easy and secure. You can secure with a password safe database on Dropbox. All you need to remember is the password to the Password safe. I must have usernames and passwords for over one hundred different sites. None of the passwords are the same. Apps for iPad, iPhone, PC and MAC. App is free, except for feature to sync with Dropbox.
 BlogPress is the app that use to write my blog posts. This post was written using BlogPress. It connects to my account on WordPress. It works for me. Drafts can be stored online and later edited on the PC App.
 That’s about it for now. Maybe later I’ll do a post on apps that I despise. But for now this is my list of favorite apps.
 – Posted using BlogPress from my iPad