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My first gig with MobileSheets
#1
Not sure if this will be of any use to anyone, but...

My background:

I'm sort of an upper intermediate piano player - I mostly read music and I maintain a working repertoire of about 50 songs (but I can fake my way through most popular sheet music.) I only started playing in public regularly in the last few years, and mostly for "sympathetic" employers (people that already knew me and we're willing to help me get started despite the fact that I'm no Liberace.) I had a pretty regular gig this summer at a restaurant - three days a week for some long hours - about 15 hours a week.

At the end of the summer, I lost the restaurant gig to a classical pianist, and I started advertising for local jobs, got one, and, at the same time, got interested in moving from printed sheet music to a tablet.

My Equipment:

Tablet: Galaxy Tab 12.1" (just bought it)
Piano: I have a lot of pianos, more than somebody at my level should really have, but... for this gig I went with my Roland 700NX. It's a pretty solid digital piano, lots of bells and whistles, really good piano keyboard feel/articulation. It does NOT have a music stand.
Pedal: PageFlip Firefly
Tablet Clamp: ChargerCity Music Mic Microphone Stand Tablet Mount with 360° Swivel Adjustment Holder
Music Software: MobileSheets

My experience:
Given that I'm not the world's greatest player, and I had about two weeks to practice with the Mobilesheets and the page turner pedal, I was a bit anxious about taking the plunge. On the other hand, laying out five page songs on a couple of music stands does not look "all-pro", and songs greater than 5 pages are generally not worth the trouble. (I am also not good at turning regular book pages so I print out all the music on individual pages, lay 'em out consecutively on a music stand, or stands, and have at it.)

During my practice sessions with Mobilesheets and the pedal I had a lot of "bobbles" at first, but by the beginning of the second week I was relaxed and generally able to navigate a straight page turn the majority of the time. When I got to the actual gig, perhaps because of the heightened expectations, I did even better than in practice. With the straight page turns.

I had a number of issues that were not as smooth as I would have liked: #1) The PageFlip pedal action is somewhat particular. Sometimes a simple tap will do it. Other times, a tap is ignored and you must re press it - preferably firmly and squarely. Because a simple tap will sometimes also turn the page, you can't leave your foot on the pedal (At least I don't think you can) so, I found myself removing my shoe, placing my foot so I could feel the edge of the pedal with the edge of my foot, and occasionally glancing down to make sure the pedal hadn't moved. This approach makes going back a page more difficult, almost always requiring a glance downwards. I don't know if the way I'm going about it is correct or even recommended - there's no real instructions. In any event, regardless of my approach, there were numerous times where I initiated the page turn, it didn't turn, and I had to do it a second time. I don't think this is Mobilesheets - I think it is the pedal.
#2) Songs that jump around, forward and backward multiple pages are, in short, a pain. I may eliminate some of these or re-scan them so they can be played in a forward direction only. In most cases I was able to finesse my way through them with a minimum of disruption to the flow, but a few times, the pages advanced when I need them to retreat and I had to resort to some vamping while I got my music under control. Some of this I *do* blame on the Mobilesheets - as the poking of the "links" is not as tight as I feel it could be. Sometimes links towards the edge of the page will advance the page instead of taking you back to the linkpoint. Sometimes the color will change to solid, but you will remain at the starting point of the link (and have to poke it again.) It works more often than it doesn't, but it is a source of frustration when it doesn't. #3) Fortunately, because of the type of gigs I do, most of my repertoire is on the slow ballad side of things. It's generally much easier to do the page turns when you're playing at 60 bpm than at 120. On the faster stuff, if I didn't "know" what was coming on the next page, I had trouble. I figure if I keep playing this way, I'll soon memorize what I need to out of necessity/habit.

Overall, I was pretty happy with having made the changeover. So far I've got about 470 songs in my Mobilesheet library- most of which I've never played - but now, if I get a request, I don't have to dig through countless collections - either I got it or I don't. And if I don't, I can maybe download it from entire books I have scans of, or get it directly off the Internet. I have about three dozen large collections (jazz, country, disney, etc.) I have not broken into individual songs and imported - have them on my memory card "just in case."

Another advantage of the tablet approach over the individual printed sheets is all the pages display directly in front of you. I have very poor eyesight, especially in one of my eyes, and I used to have difficulty seeing the fourth and fifth page of a five page song. Now all pages are where my "good" eye can see them. And in high contrast, backlit, etc.

Finally, it just looks a lot more professional. Generally speaking, most people expect professionals to have memorized all of their repertoire. (On the other hand, some folks are impressed by the ability to read music.) Personally, I would have preferred to be able to play all my stuff from memory, as I feel you play stuff better when you are not devoting a percentage of your brainpower to reading. But, the reality is, even for stuff I've mostly memorized, I am prone to lapses and I prefer not to take chances. The tablet just looks less amateurish than the paper. Some people are quite fascinated by it and are entertained just watching the pages turn (by magic!)

Sorry for the long-windedness. I figure there are probably a lot of other (older) people like me that are thinking about transitioning to PDF's from paper and I thought my experience might help them make a decision.

Bottom line, go for it.

-Alan.
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#2
I think taking your shoe off helps with that pedal. You should check out the "debounce" options in mobilesheets and on the pedal.

I prefer to turn off debounce and get to the first or last page by just holding down the pedal. Unfortunately, under the current version, if you are in a setlist, I don't think you can make the pedal stop at the begnning or end of the song. (It goes to the prior or next song.). So, at least when I am playing gigs with longer songs, I use collections instead of setlists.

I guess in the next version I would like if you had the option of NOT going to the next song when you reach the end of the song (or go to the prior song if you go back before the 1st page) using a setlist. (I know that is one of the reasons to use a setlist), Instead, have an option of it stopping at the end of the song. (I guess you would have to go back to the setlist to go to the next song).
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#3
Thanks for sharing Alan. The issues you listed in #2 should all be addressed in MobileSheetsPro. You will have the ability to create whatever page order you want, preventing the need to ever turn back pages or use link points (unless you want to). The link point detection has also been significantly improved. There are also features like the half page turns in portrait that make it easier to transition between pages as you can turn the page ahead of time (when the music allows).
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#4
Looking forward to it!
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#5
I have found I need to keep a roll of low-residue painter's tape in my kit, as my tablet will slide off some pianos.

Yes, you definitely need to get used to using a tablet. I now have >900 songs which I can search immediately.

I found the PageFlip pedal unacceptable, as it would go to sleep during tacet movements and I didn't always remember to wake it up. It also seems rather fragile (though I never broke it). I use the BiliPro pedal (I'd prefer Bluetooth, but USB will do, especially as I found a right-angle connector that takes the cable off to the left).
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