The Best Tablets on the Market for Sheet Music

Some might consider that the size of the screen and the ability to run a basic PDF or image viewer is just about the only functionality needed for a tablet to be a practical tool for viewing sheet music. However, if you’re serious about your music training, you need to at least know about the technological advancements that could come at your disposal, if you buy a more advanced tablet.

The following four tablets are considered some of the best when it comes to running special sheet music apps and viewing sheet music in clear HD quality.

Apple iPad Air 2

The high resolution, 9.7-inch retina display of the iPad Air 2 is one of the major assets of this tablet when it comes to using it for sheet music. Although it’s not as large as a sheet music page, the 2048×1536 screen resolution allows for a lot of freedom of movement regarding the apps you can use, the size of the sheet music and the detail you wish to see on every page.

A great thing about Apple’s revolutionary screen is that glare and clarity related issues are non-existing with the new iPad. Also, due to its high performance processor and 64-bit architecture, you won’t experience any lags or delays even when running the bulkiest and most advanced apps for viewing sheet music.

Also, the iPad Air is powered by a fast 1.5Ghz processor far superior to that of most high end tablets, and as a lightweight tablet (weighing only slightly over 15 ounces), it is not as bulky or difficult to manage than tablets developed by other brands.

Additional practical benefits include the apps available on iTunes – considered by many experts to be superior to Android – as well as the large 64 or 128 Gb of flash memory storage and the impressive LiPo battery offering an average time between charges of about 10 hours.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 is another excellent choice for viewing sheet music. The iPad is not the only device featuring an advanced screen. The Galaxy comes with an 2048×1536 (QXGA) Super AMOLED touchscreen that ensures clarity and a smooth performance even under difficult circumstances. AMOLED screens offer better cost, a more energy-efficient functionality and better refresh rate, being often used in larger screens and tablets due to their superior qualities.

The Tab S2’s main asset, however, is its combination of two Quad-core processors – a 1.9Ghz and a 1.3Ghz processor – that enables it to run as a genuine octacore (eight-core) tablet. This means speed will be significantly increased, and you can run even the largest apps for sheet music without any lags in functionality.

The tablet runs on Android, but its large screen and high performance specs – including 30Gb of storage and DDR3 memory allows you to run any app on the Android Store without worrying about how much space it would take up in the 3 Gb of RAM or the tablet’s flash memory storage.

Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet

The slightly larger screen and resolution make the Sony Xperia a somewhat better option if you’re looking for the largest screen you can find. Its main asset is the 2560 x 1600 pixel resolution which offers better image detail than any of the tablets on this list. The 10.1-inch screen is also the largest, although its LCD technology is considered inferior to the LED technology used by other tablets.

Nevertheless, the Sony Xperia compensates through a 2Ghz quad-core processor, reliable 64-bit architecture and 3 Gb of RAM. This setup, together with the 32 Gb of storage, ensures that you’ll have no problem running Android apps that require extensive resources, so you can even get the most advanced paid apps for viewing sheet music.

Amazon Fire HD 8

Although the Fire HD’s touchscreen only measures 8 inches on this version (there is also a 10.1-inch version at a higher cost), the resolution is still remarkable at 1280 x 800 pixels, with 189 dpi. Designed mainly for reading and entertainment, the screen offers genuine HD functionality and brighter, crisper images, thanks to its IPS LCD architecture – ideal for viewing sheet music both indoors and outside.

There is an option for 16 and 32 Gb of storage space, depending on your preference, and the tablet comes with a 1.3Ghz processor and twice as much RAM as the previous Fire HD tablet.

When it comes to battery life, the Fire HD 8 might surprise you, since its larger battery offers enough screen on time for 12 hours of entertainment and/or music practice. This value is higher than what any other Amazon tablet can offer, and even better than the iPad Air.

Now that you’ve chosen a good tablet, it’s important to also get a hands-free solution for turning pages and having convenient access to your sheet music. A tablet page turner is the ideal solution, allowing you access to your pages just by tapping a wireless pedal that connects to your tablet through bluetooth.

IK Multimedia Tablet Page Turner

The IK Multimedia bluetooth tablet page turner is an ideal solution whether you’re using an Apple and Android device. It is supported on any of the aforementioned tablets, and runs easily on two AAA batteries.

The device features a backlit construction for easy visibility on stage, and can provide you with a sturdy padded base that connects to any surface in a convenient way. The minimal construction promotes portability, energy efficiency and ease of use, making your music sessions more enjoyable than ever.

Donner Bluetooth Page Turner Pedal

The Donner page turner pedal is a more hi-tech device with a feature-rich construction and a bluetooth range of more than 30 feet. Aside from tablets and iPads, it can also support laptops, desktop PCs and macbooks, so you don’t have to worry about compatibility.

The sleek and well-organized interface makes controlling your sheet music easy, and the left and right footswitches are easy to use. Also, you get more than 50 hours on a single charge – a handy advantage if you’re too busy to recharge the pedal at a short notice.

All the tablets in our list can support these reliable and handy page turner gadgets. Whether you need to manage lots of files, run advanced apps, or just need a large, bright and clear tablet screen regardless of the apps you use, the devices presented above can be considered the fastest and most portable available tablets for the job.

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How Long Does It Take to Learn Piano

A girl Learning to play painoSo you’ve just started your piano lessons and would like a general estimate on how long it will take to learn to play the piano “fluently.” Or maybe you’re thinking of short-circuiting the typical amount of time required by finding a good teacher or course.

In each case, the time you will need depends on factors like age, the style you want to master and the amount of time and dedication you can allocate to your piano lessons and practice sessions on a daily basis. The good news is, anyone can learn how to play the piano at a good level, whether they be a 9 year-old child or a 55 year-old adult.

The Different Ways to Learn Piano

Of course the first step in learning how to play the piano is finding the right tools. A grand piano or electronic keyboard are the best instruments for the job. You can also consider learning the basics on an electronic tablet with the help of a professionally designed piano app.

That being said, there are several different paths you can take to mastering the piano:

  1. The traditional way is to get a professional piano teacher and practicing under his/her guidance every week.
  2. Music books can help you learn the basic of musical notation, as well as the notes, tones and all other concepts you have to master before becoming a piano wizard. In theory, you can learn on your own just by studying from books and practicing, however, that can be a much more challenging endeavor.
  3. YouTube and other online video websites have extensive videos published by piano experts that outline the basic rules and principles associated with playing the piano.
  4. Additionally, you can consider the convenience and ease of taking online piano lessons. Not only are they easier to follow and more flexible, but they can also be less expensive than having your piano teacher visit your home a couple of times every week.

So how long does it take to learn how to play the piano through each of these different methods. Opinions vary, however, with the help of a good teacher or a well-designed online course, the time involved is much shorter.

Typically, an adult can learn to play decently by practicing each day for 4 hours over a period of 10 to 15 years. However, factors such as talent, the style you want to learn and the specific pieces you are more interested in paying will all factor in to alter that time considerably.

Music Books

Music books have all the knowledge you need. You can use them to learn about music, notation and the position of your hand on the keyboard. You can also find sheet music you can practice with and special exercises that will train your hand’s reflexes so you can learn piano faster.

However, without a teacher to explain everything, a music book is not a resource that will take you to piano mastery in no time. In fact, learning solely from music books often takes years, and requires a lot more dedication and practice than any of the other available methods.

YouTube

YouTube is a free online visual resource for learning many skills, including playing the piano. Basic piano lessons are easy to grasp from YouTube, and the teachers who prepared these lessons have already read all the books and mastered the basics, so you don’t have to.

While YouTube can lead you on a free and much faster path to learning how to play, it still comes with drawbacks. There is no interaction between student and teacher, and if you have questions you might need to wait days or even weeks for a teacher to respond to your comments. Also, the lessons don’t account for the specific challenges you may run into (that others typically don’t), so you’re still on your own in many respects.

Online Piano courses

Finally, an online piano course is just the thing. It allows you to gain all the benefits of music books and online video lessons, but in a more personalized, friendly and encouraging manner.

Online teachers can often sync their schedules to your convenience, so you don’t have to finish your work early or skip chores to avoid missing out on your lesson. Also, many courses are flexible and personalized to your own progress. If you have difficulty with a certain technique or step, your online teacher will often help you improvise, and suggest alternative exercises that will help you get over your challenges more easily.

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How Many Keys Does a Piano Have?

Grand Piano KeyboardThe best instrument for learning to play the piano is an acoustic grand piano, which features a full set of 88 keys – which includes 52 white keys and 36 black ones. The white keys are designed for notes belonging to the C major scale, while the black keys are accidental ones required for playing in all the twelve keys.

But the classic 88-key piano is not your only choice when buying a keyboard. There are two other varieties, designed for improved portability and convenience when it comes to dealing with music styles that require the use of fewer octaves.

Weighing Your Options

Finding the right keyboard isn’t easy. You have to consider the brand, the price, the specific functions you need and have no use for. However, in terms of size, when buying a piano keyboard, you have three distinct options you can choose from:

  • The smallest, 61-key version for portable use and simpler songs;
  • A larger keyboard with 76 keys that is sometimes opted for when you need to play more complex songs, but would also like to retain the practical benefits of a smaller keyboard;
  • The full-size 88-key model, which is designed to mimic a grand piano, and is perfect for learning to play the piano.

Each of these options has its own pros and cons. Some would argue that a beginner needs no more than 61 keys, but even basic music books contain songs that would require at least the 76-key version. The latter is a more balanced option, but for the full advantages of a portable piano, you will need all 88 keys.

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Full 88-key Piano Keyboard?

A keyboard featuring all 88 keys has many advantages and only a few small drawbacks. Let’s take a look at the good news first: what makes these keyboards so special?

  • You can use them to play any song in the world, even the most complicated ones.
  • They faithfully imitate the sound and function of a grand piano, so once you learn to play them, you’ll know how to play the piano as well.
  • No improvisations are ever required.
  • You don’t have to pay a lot of money on upgrading from a smaller 61 or 76-key model, in case you need 88 keys after learning the basics.

That being said, keyboards with the full set of 88 keys can be more expensive, larger (measuring about 5 feet in length) and heavier than smaller keyboards. Despite these few drawbacks, they still offer the best possible experience, both for a beginner and for a seasoned piano player.

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The History of the Magnus Electric Chord Organ

The electric chord organ was first introduced by Magnus Harmonica Corporation in the late 1950s. A new version of the original reed organs and home organs developed by Magnus in the ‘40s and ‘50s, the design was based on an entirely new idea, to cater mainly to beginners.

The electric organ later separated from the newer electronic models, and is now seen as an intermediary stage of development, between classical reed organs and cutting edge electronic organs.

Some of the earlier version only had 22 keys which relatively small by today’s standard and didn’t have a stand for reading sheet music.

Magnus’ Revolution in Crafting Fine Chord Organs

Regular chord organs have been around for a long time. They are a variety of home organ featuring a short keyboard and a set of chord buttons that allows musicians to play the melody using one hand and access the controls for accompanying chords with the other hand.

Magnus Harmonica Corporation was the first company to introduce the electric chord organ. But even before that, Magnus had a hand in developing improved mechanical organs through a then-revolutionary molded plastic reed comb.

1958 and the Start of a New Era

The success of their design led Magnus Harmonica Corporation to begin developing newer, more affordable and easier to use organs that would be convenient for buyers. The earlier version took a little bit longer to learn how to play. In 1958, they teamed up with television salesman Eugene Tracey, and promoted the electric chord organ – a device similar to classical chord organs, but with electric functionality and, often, a tabletop design.

For more than two decades, the Magnus electric chord organ was a successful sell. Beginners continued to buy it until the 1970s, and millions of organs were sold until that time. At the height of the organ’s popularity, Magnus employed more than 1,800 workers to produce organs of various shapes and sizes, some featuring tabletop designs, others with lit music stands and/or integrated legs.

Notable Musicians Who Used Electric Chord Organs

The first Magnus electric organ model was the 300: a two-octave, six major chord version developed around 1960. Since then, many other tabletop and free-standing models have appeared, some of the most popular being the portable model 1510, the 303 (this was the first free-standing model) and the popular 391 – one of the most successful and frequently sold electric organs developed by the company.

These organs and many other Magnus models were used by renowned musicians during the Flower Power and Disco eras of the 1960s and ‘70s. Some of the most well-known bands and artists included Johnny and the Hurricanes, Cortney Tidwell and a surprising number of bands from the ‘90s and even 2000s, when the electric chord organ started to make a comeback.

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