I play keyboards on our worship team. I've been using an iPad to manage my own sheet music because of two basic reasons. 1) Handling page turns and switching between songs during worship, and 2) managing the sheer amount of paper music in four different 4" 3-ring binders. Each person on our team has a set of those binders, and it's a lot for everyone to manage. I actually ended up writing the iPad app that I'm using (NextPage) because of this whole situation of dealing with the paper.
If you put some iPads into place, I think it will definitely pay off in the long run. In the short run, however, you may find it's a lot of work to scan the music in and load it into the iPads every week. I'm just getting ready to do that now for our next rehearsal. Obviously at some point that work eases up as you start to reuse songs. You could use something like a shared DropBox, or just simple email to get the songs to everybody, or you could just sync all 3 or 4 of them to the same iTunes library where you have access to all of the music.
If you want to reuse your paper music, you will have to scan it into something the iPad can display. The easiest and most popular option is PDF files. You will also need a decent scanner. I've been using an Epson Workforce 610 and Image Capture on the Mac with good results. Another option is to buy an app that uses a proprietary format, but then you would have to repurchase your music.
The real beauty of going electronic becomes apparent during that first performance. You can focus on worship and not have to worry about the hassles of the paper music. Page turns are effortless (either swipe or wireless foot pedal in my case), you can change song order on the fly, make last minute song changes, play in low light conditions, get rid of the bulky music stands....I could go on and on.
You could really do it without any app at all other than iBooks or a free PDF reader, but I don't think that's optimal for worship. You want something that lets you organize the music, do quick searches and assemble sets, and then display quickly (and reliably!) during worship. It needs to be all about the music, not the iPad, if that makes sense.
So, my vote is GO FOR IT. Please feel free to email me if you'd like to get further into the details. As you can tell, I'm sort of passionate about this.
Have you tried using OnSong? I used it on my iPhone and link to a set of chordpro songs on Dropbox which I update periodically. It has an auto-scroll feature and the ability to create a set for a given Sunday. It does quite well but sometimes crashes on the iPhone. However, this thing really looks useful for the iPad. I'm really wanting to hear from someone who is actually using it on iPad.
And also, I'm all for the iPad as a music storage/retrieval tool, but I'm struggling to justify the cost for only that. Do you use it for other things?
I have not yet tried OnSong or GigBook. I plan to look at both in the coming week or so. I spent about 9 months creating NextPage and didn't really check out any other apps. I sort of knew what I needed for keyboard playing, and there really wasn't anything suitable in the App Store.
You pose an interesting question on the cost justification. I do use my iPad for all sorts of other things. But I was so frustrated with paper music that I think I would have bought one anyway just for that one thing. I had scribbled down ideas for creating "electronic sheet music" software years ago, so when I heard the iPad was coming out and it looked practical for displaying music, buying one was an easy decision. I didn't care if I had to write the app myself - I was bound and determined to ditch the paper!
Yea, I'm totally sold on the device. Not having the money right now, I bought a Kindle just for book reading, but sort of wished I had waited. Ah...not really. But I use the iPhone a lot and there are so many things it does for me. If I had an iPad, I'd be doing even more. For instance, Multitrack DAW is a great recording app.
Wait - you wrote an app? Where is it? I can't find it iTunes.
May I just say, I'm honored that an inventor of an iPad app would respond to this discussion. Also, I am iWorld illiterate, so anything iPad/iPhone-ish is over my head. I've just seen commercials of these products & the iPad seems to be a great tool to replace the big, bulky 3-inch binders we use. So, all this Next/Drop/Song/Page stuff is over my head...
I'm very passionate about people actually getting the benefit of the technology, especially in worship music. So in a way, I can't help myself from responding! So often, the people who most need and would most benefit from technology like the iPad are those who are the most unfamiliar or apprehensive about it. NP was written especially with the non-technical musician in mind. I spent countless hours fretting over the design so that it would super easy and non-intimidating. I said "No" to a lot of features for that reason. In the end, what I really care about is better worship and musicianship.
I would be glad to get you up to speed on all things iPad. Just drop me an email. Raising money to buy the iPads, however, is not my specialty. :)
Does it give you the ability to transcribe to different keys? Onsong does, but it only uses Chordpro format and is mostly about chord sheets.
Is it possible that OnSong is the app for chord sheets and Gigbook is the one for PDFs of whatever like score? This is starting to take shape folks!
And to Priscilla - if cost is no issue, there is no question in my mind that you should get the iPads. I'm jealous right now...