This is is a continuation of my response to a blog post on Norman Lebrecht's blog, slippeddisc.com, "Is this the Last Stand for the Printed Score?"
There are many comments already on the pros and cons for tablets/electronic sheet music vs printed music. Personally, I have used an iPad 2 from 2011 and then recently upgraded to an iPad pro. The picture above is from a Chamber Music Charleston concert in 2013, where we played chamber music from France. My piano duo performs entirely off 2 iPads.
It has been very convenient for me. I am a busy collaborative pianist, and before I made the switch to the iPad, I had copies of music in binders in my car; I've once brought the wrong music to a concert (thank goodness someone else had another copy.) I've asked soloists to not give me music because I was so sure I would lose it; I've had to check in a suitcase because the all the music I want to bring on a trip would not fit in a carry on. All these worries, some of which could be attributed to general care, have evaporated.
Of course, there was some getting used to. When I started using the iPad, I would plan out my page turns (tap on the first beat of the 2nd to last measure on the page). I have had to work through the screen glare problem, reflections off bright windows in the background of a church, getting an email on stage (stupid, I know..), cracks in the screen, and the pedal failing. That did not take too long, though.
In the tablet’s defense, the pedal has been more troublesome than the tablet over the past 5 years. As a collaborative pianist, I have enjoyed the convenience of having all my music along with me at all times. Outdoor gigs are a breeze too.
Yet – It is a responsibility to keep both my iPad and pedal charged all the time, and accidents have happened before. I have switched back to paper scores once because I couldn’t see (the reason why I upgraded). I know my eyesight has deteriorated over the years. I know I have been distracted by other apps when I practice, which is entirely my fault. I freak out once in a while before a big concert and double check that it’s charged, bring an extra pedal, etc.
I would say there are inconveniences with or without the tablet. Are we ready to move into an all-tablet culture? I don’t think so. Maybe in our lifetime, yes. For now, I guess, to each his/her own? And keep letting audience members ask “how do you use that!”