Have I mentioned that I sing with a choir? If you knew me personally, you would definitely know it because I talk about it a lot, but I don't believe I have blogged about it. I am a first soprano in the Angel City Chorale, a 120 member volunteer choir based in Los Angeles. We have performed with appeared with Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross and Mary Chapin Carpenter at venues ranging from The Kodak Theater to the Los Angeles Convention Center and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. In my spare time, I edit the choir's MySpace page and spend a lot of time helping them with publicity and marketing. (pretty cool how I snuck in those links...). In fact, this past weekend, we performed two concerts and officially launched our newest CD entitled The Road Home.
So besides me shamelessly plugging the choir, how could this my choir experience possibly relate to Tablet PCs?
Well in my quest to incorporate my Tablet PC into various facets of my life away from work, I loaded MusicReader, a Tablet PC based music reading software program that addresses many of the challenges that musicians face, including easy page turning, convenient music library and the ability to take notes. Although not specifically designed for choral music, I adapted the features of MusicReader which worked best for choral singing so that I could use it during rehearsals and recording sessions.
According the choir rules, we have to return all of our music at the end of the season in pristine condition. For this reason we have to take all of our notes in pencil - which really does not pop from the page and I wind up missing half of my notes and cues. Using MusicReader, however, I can take all of the notes I want and highlight parts without worrying about destroying the music or making extra copies. I'm having a ball using MusicReader to create some really colorful musical masterpieces. I can import musical symbols including rests, breath notes, pianissimo and forte notations so that my notes really stand out.
The most major area for improvement with MusicReader is the note-taking experience. The annotation mode is not as seamless as I am used to using OneNote or Journal. I have been communicating with Marco Leoné, the creator of MusicReader and he informed me that he is working improving the inking experience and that I will see improvement in the next few months.
Having the tablet in rehearsal is definitely more fun than using my standard music loose leaf binder. Granted, I'm not a great site-reader. I certainly read well enough to follow with the music, count measures, recognize rests and follow note patterns, but I couldn't sit down and site-read if my life depended on it. However, the touch screen really responds well to page turns and highlighting. I've also been known to answer a few emails or play a few games of spider solitaire when our conductor is working with the other sections.
The bad news is that I couldn't use my tablet during the actual concert because the backlit screen is stands out and it is too bright for me to hold it onstage. I also need to hold my matching choir binder so that I blend in with the rest of the group.
Overall, I have enjoyed using my Tablet PC with MusicReader in rehearsals and will definitely continue using it for future choir seasons.