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Written by Ramsey Brown.
Reading sheet music is a valuable skill set for all musicians to have. At first it might seem hard to read sheet music, but it's essentially like learning another language. If you’re a beginner, don’t let reading sheet music intimidate you. We’ve found and listed some apps you can download that will have you reading music in no time. Here are the 7 best mobile apps for learning to read music on both Apple and Android devices:
forScore is perhaps the most popular sheet music app that you can use to read music. If you are looking for an app that will display your music on your Android device or iPad while keeping it organized, then you should definitely try forScore. Even though it doesn’t contain all the bells and whistles that the other sheet music apps have, this one has enough functionality to take over your music library.
forScore can be used to display different music in its written form - from c-instrument sheet music and traditional piano to various lyrics and chords. The app actually comes with its own classical music library, however, you have the ability to buy and insert additional music packs.
Even though its base price point might be high in comparison to other apps, forScore is highly rated, makes great use of the entire iPad screen, and offers a good use of annotations. These are just some of the reasons why it’s one of the best apps in the App Store for musicians. It’s worth mentioning that the forScore app also has a metronome, which makes it easier to keep a consistent tempo and control the BPM of the song.
OnSong Pro offers so many features and is the perfect helper for both professional and aspiring musicians. Although it’s one of the most expensive music readers on the market, it is definitely worth every penny. With the app, you can easily create your own sheet music library from scratch and simplify the music notation with only chords and lyrics. The best thing about OnSongPro is the editor and markup language that can help you make writing a song fairly easy.
Other cool features include the markup language which shows you how it deals with chords and the “Flow” feature that allows users to arrange each section in order without having to repeat the text. Despite the expensive base price and in-app purchases, with OnSong Pro you can annotate and modify your songs.
OnSong Pro also includes performance tools like a metronome, annotations, MIDI integrations, library management, and much more.
If you want to try an app that takes tablature to the next level, then Songsterr is the one for you. It’s clearly organized, easy to use, and breaks down every instrument in a song while also including a playback feature. Thanks to this playback feature, it’s so much easier to learn the part by playing it in real time. This way, you don’t have to jump back and forth between different tabs and you can listen to the music to get the feel from it just right.
What is also great about Songsterr is that it’s available as both an app and in a website version, so you can work on your sheet music from anywhere. The website provides a better value for the users that do not want to pay a monthly subscription fee. Through the web version, you have the opportunity to view the tablature and hear the playback without having to subscribe or pay any fees. If you want to learn songs and get a lot more features, then you might want to try the actual Songsterr app.
Among some of the extra features on it are loop mode, offline mode, and half-speed mode. It also gives the ability to use apps such as AmpliTube as a mobile practice studio.
When it comes to the best sheet music apps for Android & iPad, MusicNotes is certainly among one of them. It is often called “iBook of sheet music” because of its easy-to-use and user-friendly interface, as well as its wide variety of helpful features. In addition to storing your music, MusicNotes can also help you learn very quickly. With the app, you have the opportunity to play the music and then slow down the BPM to learn it faster. It has many positive reviews online and is a great way for you to organize your sheet music.
Apart from traditional sheet music, MusicNotes also supports tablature, lyrics/chords, music notation, and c-instrument. It comes with a handful of songs as examples but if you want to build your own library, you have to create an account on their website. What makes MusicNotes so useful are its performance, abilities to create a music library (song-by-song), and the opportunity to organize your sheet music library the way you want. As of now, MusicNotes remains one of the premier sheet music apps on the Google Play Store.
An app that is very underrated but great for music composition is Notion. Unlike all of the previously mentioned apps, this one focuses more on the music composition than the music library. The app has a powerful music notation software that allows users to compose on their iPads whenever they want to. As if that’s not enough, it also has the ability to mark articulations for different instruments (like notating a slide or bend on the guitar) and includes a sample library that covers many instruments.
Besides the sample library, you can easily import your own material and edit it. Even though it’s not as stage-friendly as OnSong Pro and forScore, Notion has its own features and characteristics. This app is the perfect fit for the aspiring and professional songwriters. This app allows you to do several things all at the same time like import MIDI files, transpose into a different key, support for chord or tab, and of course, handwriting recognition for a composition with a stylus.
GuitarTab is a simple app that as the name suggests, is optimized for chords and guitar tabs. What makes GuitarTab an absolute favorite with thousands of great and positive reviews is that it’s free and only has a few inexpensive in-app purchases. Despite the user interface which may be lacking and require some work, GuitarTab has so much to offer. It has a huge amount of content in its free section, which can’t be said about most of the sheet music apps.
The app’s library isn’t as extensive as that of Songsterr or OnSong Pro but if you want to learn a specific song in the simplest way possible, then you’ve got the right app. GuitarTab is a great alternative that users choose over Tab Pro and Tabs and Chords that come with an expensive subscription service.
Even though it’s free, the app comes with its own inexpensive in-app purchases that allow you to remove all of the ads, transpose to a different key, print the music, and many other neat features. However, in comparison with most of the guitar-oriented apps, the ads of GuitarTab are not even that intrusive.
Paperless Music is one of the best piano sheet music apps out there. It’s a straightforward sheet music app that you can use to manage your library. It’s perfect for not only scores but guitar tabs and fake books too. With Paperless Music, you can import PDF files from various places such as AirDrop, Files, and iCloud. After you upload your files, you can use the enhanced search engine to find a specific piece by filtering the composer, genre, title, key, and/or duration.
The app displays the sheet music crystal clear for your convenience, and thanks to the built-in editing tools, you can add annotations any time. In case you need hands-free page turns, just like most of the popular sheet music apps, Paperless Music also supports Bluetooth devices like AirTurn and PageFlip.
The best thing about Paperless Music is that you are not required to sign up and create an account with them. It also doesn’t have any ads, third-party tracking, subscriptions, and in-app purchases. However, the only drawback is that the app is still available only for iOS devices and is still in development for Android.
Nowadays, there are hundreds of sheet music apps for both Android & iPad, but the opportunities that they offer and features for the iOS devices are definitely much more than those available in the Google Play Store. Perhaps the reason for that is the sleek design and interface of the iPads.
Regardless of the device, among some of the best sheet music apps that you can use to support tablature for various instruments (such as guitars and pianos) are forScore, OnSong Pro, and MusicNotes. They all come in with their own designs, features, music libraries, and in-app purchases. One thing is certain, with any of the seven sheet music apps mentioned above, you can easily learn how to read, write, and even produce your own music.
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