If you’re a gigging musician, you already know the importance of having an iPad to organize your sheet music, chord charts, and notes.
If you don’t use an iPad and you’re still using sheet music… I must applaud you. You probably also drive a steam engine to gigs. Respect, man, respect.
Now, back to the iPad. You know how great this is. You can keep all of your music with you at all times. I personally use my iPad pretty much every week. On any gig where I’m reading, it’s a must. What’s the only thing that could make the iPad sheet music experience better? Not having to turn pages.
Turning Pages With Your Feet
Enter the AirTurn Bluetooth pedal. This thing does exactly as you’d expect. It pairs with your iPad and turns the pages back and forth when you step on the corresponding pedals. To test it out, I took it to some gigs.
First, I took it to an outdoor concert. Here I used what is probably the most popular sheet music app, ForScore. The Airturn worked great and did exactly what I wanted it to do: turned the pages for me. There’s a split second delay between when I press on the pedal and when the page turns, but it’s not enough to bother me.
You know, at first I thought, “really, isn’t this a bit much? Do I really need this thing to turn the page for me? How lazy am I? #firstworldproblems?”
But the more I used it, the more I loved it. I’m in the habit of turning pages with my fingers, but as I got used to using the AirTurn, I began to really love it. You don’t have to interrupt your playing, you just turn the page with your foot. It’s actually awesome once you get used to it.
Next, I took it to church (no, not like the Hozier song, stop it). For my church gig, I used the Planning Center Music Stand App. Airturn supports TONS of apps across the iPad and Android platforms, as well as Mac or PC, so I’m sure it supports whatever app you use. For this gig, the Airturn also performed great.
If you’re wondering if AirTurn Supports your favorite app, here’s a comprehensive list of all of them.
2 Things You Should Know
Next, I took it to a Top 40 gig. For this I also used ForScore and it worked great. However, I discovered 2 minor things that you should know about.
When I play in the Top 40 band, we do things a little differently. Instead of something like a church gig where all of the songs and the setlist order are predetermined, for these gigs, I’m staring at a songlist and calling tunes depending on the mood of the crowd. This presented 2 problems for me.
- First, if you double tap the page forward pedal too fast, it only registers as one turn. So if you’re trying to turn pages very quickly to get to another chart, you have to go at a slightly slower pace. That’s not that big of a deal, but it’s worth mentioning.
- Second, the way this thing pairs to your iPad is as a bluetooth keyboard. For most situations, that’s not an issue at all. But in the case of the Top 40 band, when I wanted to search in forScore for a particular chart, because the iPad thinks I have a full bluetooth keyboard paired it doesn’t show me the on screen keyboard. So I can’t search for the chart I need.
There’s a work around with this if you bend down and hit a button on the pedal. Or alternatively, you can turn off the bluetooth on your iPad so that it disconnects, the onscreen keyboard pops up, search for what you need, load it up, turn bluetooth back on, and let the AirTurn pair again.
This is the only bummer thing about the AirTurn pedal. I understand why this limitation exists, and it’s not a deal breaker for me, but it’s the only big thing that I wish was different.
A Version For Everyone
AirTurn makes a few different models, depending on what would work best for you.
The most affordable model is the AirTurn PED. This is your most basic page turner and works just like the unit I reviewed. The main difference is, it’s much thinner, is all one piece, and runs off a watch battery. This thing goes for $69. Click here to check it out.
The AirTurn Duo is the unit I have. This thing is a little more sturdy, but still has silent page turning. Stepping on the pedal doesn’t give you a click, so if you’re a guitar player used to stomping on pedals, it may take some getting used to. The good thing is that it’s completely silent (just like the PED), so if you’re playing something quiet, the pedal won’t be heard. It has a USB rechargable battery that will last for a few months. You can also detach the brain of the DUO from the pedals and use it as a remote in a bunch of different modes, but let’s be honest. You’re probably not going to do that, are you? The Duo sells for $99.
If you want that satisfying click, you should spring for the Airturn Stompkit. It’s basically the brain of the Duo, but with 2 boss footswitches. It sells for $139. Click here to check it out.
Lastly, if you’re a drummer, you can get the Airturn Tap. It’s basically a Duo but designed specifically to be hit by drum sticks. It comes with a mount and sells for $149.
Now, there’s one other accessory that AirTurn makes. It’s a little crazy. You can rig up a bite switch to your bluetooth pedal, so you don’t even have to step on it. Yes, a switch that you bite to turn the page.
They also make a tongue switch. At first I thought these were really weird, and honestly, I kind of still do, but it makes a little more sense thinking about an organist turning pages. Their feet and hands are occupied, so this works great for them. Really any instrumentalist that uses all their limbs will benefit from this. Here’s a short list of potential bite switch users: drummers, one man bands, and the bicycle piano guy from Disneyland.
All in all, I love the AirTurn. It’s the perfect accessory for your iPad, and it makes life with digital sheet music easier. If you use sheet music on your iPad regularly, you should probably go buy one.