WHY GO DIGITAL?
Q&A – Musicians, Conductors, Librarians, Managers
At Newzik, our goal is to make digital tools as effective as paper and more. Before considering going digital, an orchestra needs to make sure that no advantages of using sheet music would be lost by switching to a digital solution.
In recent years, we collaborated with a large number of professional orchestras, conductors, musicians, librarians and stage managers. We have gathered all the questions that we’ve been asked, as well as the answers we’ve provided throughout the years.
“The A4 format of the iPad Pro is too small for me”
Crop the PDF scores’ margins
Most of the time, the B4 paper sheet that musicians receive have large margins on their sides, but the musical content sticks to an A4 format – the same as the iPad Pro. With our embedded layout editing features that let you crop the score margins, each musician will be able to enlarge their score and get the most out of it.
Use the iPad in landscape mode
Through Newzik, many musicians discovered this completely innovative way of reading music. By using the iPad in landscape mode, they can enjoy a large display that is even larger than the classic B4. Coupled with a foot pedal for page turning, this feature is essential for musicians that have doubts regarding score sizes.
Each string player can have his own iPad stand
Instead of sharing a B4 score with a fellow musician, why not have your own iPad,a t the distance your want about having your own and personal iPad, at the distance you want, right in front of your eyes? String players share a stand for two reasons:
- One – historical: When scores were engraved manually, having one stand per musician drastically reduced the copying work.
- Two – practical: To reduce the page turn effort to 1 out of 2 musicians.
Now, with digital scores and a Bluetooth foot pedal, we can completely revolutionize the way music is read.
Zoom-in on the MusicXML score
As of today, PDF is the best format to help musicians make their transition from paper to digital. However, at Newzik, we developed the first MusicXML rendering technology on iOS. With this flexible format of tomorrow, you will be able to work precisely on the display of your scores, reorder your bars and – if needed in some configurations – even transpose them.
“I need to see two pages to anticipate the music”
Until now, music publishers have written their scores optimizing the page breaks to make it easy to turn your pages – with a 2-page reference! The left page is never optimized because musicians are not supposed to turn this page to go to the next one. Here are the solutions Newzik offers to anticipate the music:
Bluetooth foot pedal
Play hands-free and quickly flip pages with a Bluetooth foot pedal!
Enjoy the half page turn feature
Newzik offers the option to pre-visualize the first part of the next page and the last part of the previous page at the same time. This way, you will never be surprised by a challenging page turn.
The double page in landscape mode
In Newzik, you can choose to display two pages in landscape mode. In extreme situations, if you feel that the display is too small for you, do not forget that you can always use a larger screen connected to your iPad!
The slow scroll option
Newzik enables musicians to scroll vertically at their own pace.
Edit the layout of the PDF
Our PDF editor tool allows you to quickly reorder pages to better anticipate a repetition, or move specific staves.
Adjust your MusicXML layout
With the flexibility of MusicXML scores, you will be able to manually adjust the organization of your score and postpone some challenging parts for the next page.
“Is the digital screen reflection visually comfortable?”
Some musicians told us they would enjoy a “Kindle-like” reader whose light does not come from the device itself. But the side effect is that no “Kindle-like system” is powerful enough to develop such a complete tool as Newzik. How can you get around this?
Night shift effect
Through this iOS feature that already exists in any iPad, you have the possibility to adjust the brightness of your screen.
With the help of an ophthalmologist, we worked on the background color of the score to make it perfect for any situation. From Newzik, musicians can change the white shinny score background to a softer sepia.
On top of that, some recommended manufacturers offer great anti-reflection stickers to apply to your screen so you can play everywhere – inside, outside, and with or without light, etc.
iPad stands adjustments
The flexibility of the iPad stands with their iKlip provides the musician with the possibility of adjusting the score angle according to the context.
“What about a crash, freeze or bug during a live performance?”
Performing can always be stressful for musicians. So naturally we understand that adding a new technology to read scores can add to that stress factor.
The digital revolution is a new concept for orchestras. But we want to highlight that many solo musicians already perform with iPads and completely got rid of these psychological barriers. Here is what Newzik offers to help you overcome these barriers:
We have run intensive tests in many situations and got amazing results. The priority of our strong development team and Q&A experts, will always be to bring the best stability possible for your performance. A dedicated team of beta testers, are tirelessly testing each Newzik version that we release.
In Newzik, a “lock mode” allows the musician to be in front of his score in full screen, and to avoid any mis-clicks!
Offline performance mode
To strengthen the software, we decided to build a complete and powerful offline performance mode. This means you won’t get any sudden surprise notifications, such as from Skype, Facebook or Gmail!
A fully charged iPad will last for 5 hours using Newzik. If you forgot to charge your iPad at home, your stage manager will always make some charging cables accessible for your iPad during a performance.
"Can the conductor use paper scores and the orchestra iPads?"
Yes! We built our software to be efficient and useful with or without the conductor’s involvement in the digital domain. We are aware that some conductors are not familiar with this new way of reading music and are currently working with conductors who wish to be prepared for future challenges.
“The A4 format of the iPad Pro is too small for me. What solution do you offer?”
Reading off an oversized screen
If 12.9 iPad Pro tablets are large enough for needs of musicians, it might be considered too small for large conductor scores.
For this very reason, we have decided to develop in-house a larger conductor station, composed with a tailor-made stand supporting a larger touch screen linked an iPad.
“How to get copyrighted digital scores”
Copyrights and licenses are our top priority. Digital scores for performances is still somewhat of an unprecedented area for publishers. Based on the fact that this option is contractual and not “legal”, our team collaborates with publishers on a case by case basis, for each of our orchestra clients to cover 100% of the copyright for any particular score.
To this day, we have already successfully collaborated with Schott and Universal Music Publishing for orchestral projects. Publishers will be ready once the demand from orchestras becomes more official and initiated by concrete projects. For individual players, publishers have already turned to digital. For instance, Henle just launched an app called Henle Library to sell digital sheet music (including different fingerings!).
“How are my digital scores backed-up?”
Cloud Hosting & Backup
To save your entire digital library, Newzik has built its own cloud, hosted on the secure Amazon server, to store all your scores! Whether you lose or break an iPad, or simpluy forget it at home, you can ALWAYS retrieve the content with annotations from any other iPad.
“How to digitize my paper scores ?"
Scanning process for PDF
The first option is to scan the score and then simply import the PDF into Newzik.
Copying process for MusicXML
The second option is to copy the piece from scratch into Sibelius, Finale or any notation software and then to export the piece as a flexible, editable and transposable MusicXML score.
“How much is the investment?”
Let’s be honest – Very often, this is the first question that is asked. However, going digital does not necessarily mean that you will need to massively invest in material acquisition.
First, we have designed a small template that will help you calculate how much you spend on a yearly basis in costs that are associated with paper scores management – paper, ink, printers, shipments, extra librarian for specific events, etc. The Brussels Philharmonic estimated this annual cost at 25,000$. For the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, the cost when calculated was 40,000$.
By going digital with Newzik, chances are that you will end up saving money in the long run as you will be able to cut costs on things that are no longer necessary.
Regarding the material to acquire – iPads, pedals, stands, cart – you will have several options:
1) Buy the material, for instance with the help of a sponsor that wants to be associated with this digital transition.
2) Rent the material. For instance, an iPad that you rent through a leasing solution will cost you around 25$/month… with all the advantages of a leasing service, including material replacement in case of accident.
For a long-term solution, we’ve partnered with Apple to offer orchestras our great leasing options. Instead of massively investing in 100 iPads at once, the orchestra can pay around a 1000 pounds a month, covering the insurance and device replacement as well.
And yes, we are running free trials with orchestras such as the Monte-Carlo Philharmonics, the Opéra de Rouen and the Israeli Camerata. We are also sharing ideas with librarians from the LSO, Opéra de Paris, MET and so on.
For more details about material costs or free trials, do not hesitate to contact us at email@example.com
“What equipment do I need?”
Not that much. The iPad is the main new piece of equipment for musicians. To make your life easier, we recommend having a look at these products below:
- Bluetooth Foot Pedals: Musicians can turn pages hands-free
- Stylus: Musicians can quickly annotate like in a paper score
- iPad Stands: You can easily clip and unclip the iPad into a secure and mobile stand
- iPad Carts: To store, move and charge 30 iPads at once
More information about the Bluetooth Foot Pedal:
Once a pedal is connected to the iPad, there is no chance that any interference can happen. You will just need to connect each iPad with its associated pedal once. Then you can put numbered stickers on them to help you associate them quickly and you are set for years!
Long Lasting Battery
The bluetooth foot pedals are very energy efficient and their battery will last at least 300 hours. All the pedals we recommend have a battery life indicator (green, orange and red) that will help you to know when you need to charge them.
In any case, you can still turn pages manually even if your pedal is connected with Newzik!
“What if the iPad become obsolete? Why not Android tablets?"
First of all, the Newzik software has been built to be effective for any post iOS9 devices. This means that if you invest in iPads in year 1, you will fully enjoy the software in year 4, whatever the version updates. In the case that you buy the iPads, they will still be operational more than 3 years after the acquisition date with daily use.
In the case that you decide to go for the leasing route, you will be able to renew your equipment at no cost every two years!
Second, we think that Apple iPads are the most rock-solid tablets on the market. As we said, our top priority is to avoid any bug or crash.
The Newzik version on Android will exist in the future; once we will be sure that we can match the extreme expectations of professional musicians and reach a 100% stability guarantee.
“How can I make sure the iPads are always charged? And what about the cables?”
A digital transition means a shift in daily habits. As a stage manager, you will have a central role in this new digital management.
In the very near future, innovative charging iPad stands – with integrated batteries – will pop up the market. Until then, you have several options:
1) Newzik operating is about 5 hours. Make sure that the iPads are charged before a rehearsal or a concert. If your musicians bring their iPads home, remind them that they need to charge them before the next rehearsal or performance.
2) Connect the stands to a central electrical system on stage so that the iPads are always charged. Don’t be afraid of Apple white cables – black charging cables also exist on the market!
3) For your battery management, Newzik recommends that you use a charging cart – with some of them, you can handle the charge of up to 40 iPads at the same time.
“Do I need to install WIFI?”
Thanks to our own cloud, musicians can work freely offline anytime, even in annotation mode.
Musicians need internet in two types of situations:
1) To share the annotations in real time during rehearsals. For example when the concertmaster shares his bowing with his/her section.
2) To turn pages for a whole group – for example durnig rehearsals and/or performance. All the screens are following a leader’s screen and will follow his/her page turn.
In these specific contexts, we recommend a strong connection… Wifi Hot Spot!
“Will you always be with us?”
We know how hard it is to make the decision to go digital for an orchestra. That is why we have implemented a platform through which you can talk to us anywhere, anytime. We will always be available – even remotely – to assist you in any situation.
If you have further questions or to schedule a free trial, please don’t hesitate to contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.