Last spring, I finally purchased my Air Turn bluetooth pedal for hands-free page turning. Very simply, it works with my tablet computer to turn pages of music that I read from the tablet in PDF format. It’s easy, convenient, and I should have gotten it sooner.
I first learned about the digital music revolution from my former colleague at Curtis, Hugh Sung. Hugh is an amazing pianist and was a member of the collaborative piano faculty as well as Director of Student Recitals at Curtis. But more importantly, as anyone who has ever met Hugh can tell you, he is a techno-geek-wizard. So naturally he was drawn to thinking of a way get music off of paper and onto computers. As a pianist, he knew page turning was going to be the biggest issue. And eventually the Air Turn pedal was reality.
For me, as for many others, the Air Turn has eased some of the difficulties that seemed to be an inseparable part of how we make music. So here is my quick list of the big three reasons I love using my Air Turn.
1. No stand lights or clothes pins. My tablet makes playing gigs much easier. There’s no need to worry about bad lighting or sudden gusts of wind that would send paper pages flying. Just stay out of the rain. Duh.
2. Sharp focus and backlighting actually make the music easier to read. OK – my eyes aren’t as good as they used to be. I find the fabulous display on the tablet plus the backlighting make the music sharper and easier to read. I was concerned it might be harder to read, since the tablet is smaller than most printed pages but the reverse is actually true.
3. Accessibility to my digital library of music anywhere I am. I don’t have my entire collection scanned and stored on the cloud yet, but I’m working on it. So when I need to show a student the markings I use for a particular passage, or make a last minute program change, I can do it in a snap.
You may have noticed that the reasons I give are really about having your music on a tablet, rather than about the special features of the Air Turn pedal. But the simple fact is the Air Turn makes playing from a tablet possible. They go together like Lucy and Desi – they’re both great, but taken together, they are unbeatable.
Interested in joining the digital music age? Here are two great ways:
1. Check out the Air Turn pedal; I use the BT 105. (Full disclosure – If you use this link and decide to purchase one, I will receive a small commission.) There is a lot of amazing information on the site about how to use the Air Turn and how to digitize your music. PLUS, as a thank you, if you purchase one and email me your receipt, I will send you a two page PDF telling you how I scan my music, how I position the Air Turn so it doesn’t feel like I need a third foot, etc. Also, I use an Android tablet, not an iPad, so I have some information you won’t see many other places.
2. Check out the fabulous new resource from Harp Column, HarpColumnMusic.com! Harp Column is making digital sheet music available on this new site. They are specializing in harp ensemble arrangements, but you can find music for harp solo and other combinations as well, all in PDF downloads for you to print or put on your tablet. The list of featured music arrangers is impressive – Lynne Abbey Lee, Diane Michaels, Skaila Kanga, John Wickey and many others, including me!
Are you thinking holiday gifts, for yourself or another special harpist?