Since the dawn of the creation of sheet music a cry has been heard from musicians throughout history... "I only have two hands!" Fast forward to today.
With more and more musicians discovering the power of using iPads, laptop/tablet computers and even their cell phones for music reading you still only have two hands to play your instrument. Even though the pages now live on a display you still have to turn them...Thankfully we finally have the answer!
AirTurn has created in my opinion the ultimate solution for musicians needing that extra hand to cover those page turning duties.
Introducing the BT-105
The BT-105 is the centerpiece of the AirTurn system. It contains a Bluetooth transmitter that is recognized by the host device (iPad , PC or Mac) as a Bluetooth keyboard. On the BT-105 front panel you have the power and mode switch, status indicator tri-color LED, and a mini USB port for the on-board rechargable battery..
Situated on the front panel as well you find two 3.5 mm stereo jacks. This is where the switch pedals are connected to the BT-105. You can use most momentary footswitches with the AirTurn but you might have to use adapters to accommodate them which AirTurn can supply.
For this review AirTurn supplied me with a BT-105 paired with its new ATFS-2 "silent" foot switch pedals. These are an amazing design that work very well. When I first started using the AirTurn a few months ago it came with the original design which was made from polycarbonate. The new pedals are molded and have a much better overall look and feel, a big improvement!
Another "why didn't I think of that" was also included in the form of a nice compact pedalboard. This holds the BT-105 along with two of the ATFS-2 pedalswitches and unifies them in a very nice package.
Previously the three components (BT-105 and the two ATSFS-2s) were just out there on their own and could be hard to manage. This new setup brings them all together and eliminates some of the potential headaches of having to use your foot to hunt around and drag the pedals back into position.
Since the AirTurn is a wireless Bluetooth device it must first be "paired" with the iPad. This is fairly straightforward to do. First go to the iPad "Settings" menu and go to the "General" settings area and then select Bluetooth. There should also be an indicator there to let you know if it is already on or is currently disabled.
Now select the Bluetooth option to take you to its settings. It should automatically discover the AirTurn once you have it powered up. You will know things are working when the AirTurn's status LED flashes green periodically this shows that you are paired with the iPad or other host device.
You will notice that each AirTurn device has a unique serial number to keep any confusion down when you are possibly playing with other musicians who might be using the AirTurn system on their device.
If you ever have trouble pairing up after using the device and maybe powering down your iPad you might have to select "forget this device" by selecting the icon to the right of the AirTurn entry. After doing so it allows the iPad to refresh itself and you can try pairing it up again by tapping the appropriate entry.
The Apps The Thing
The AirTurn itself does not come with any music reading or performance apps as it is an accessory for apps you might already have. There is such a wide range of not only music apps but presentation and study apps that take advantage of the AirTurn's ability to provide hands free page turning. There are even "prompter" apps available that allow you to use the AirTurn to advance scrolling text or go to the next page in a script or lyrics displayed in a text document. AirTurn's website has a complete list of apps that currently work with the AirTurn system.
If you are an app developer they have a great program you can apply for so you can have access to the resources needed to incorporate the AirTurn technology into your app, something I would highly recommend.
AirTurn Meets forScore
I recently had the opportunity of putting the new AirTurn design to the test.
I have traveled for the past 11 years with Larnelle Harris. Not only do I serve as accompanist but also have the duties of playing the backing tracks we use during the concert. I use an iPad for that as well and it does the job in fine fashion (more about this in a later review). Recently we have been doing concerts along with Sandi Patty, Wayne Watson and Heather Payne (from Point of Grace). If you ever get a chance to attend one of these events I know it will be a blessing. I was called upon to fill in for Sandi's accompanist for this even and that meant having to prepare to play for her two sets along with my usual responsibilities. This is where AirTurn shined.
I had Sandi's music director send me the charts for the songs she would be doing. I scanned and saved them as a PDF (Portabe Document File). PDF is the format of choice to use with various music reading apps. The next step is to get them into the iPad. So I emailed the PDFs to myself and pulled them up in the iPad's mail app. I then did what is called "Open In". This allows you to import documents into various apps you have on your iPad. I am using a music reader app called forScore so I opened them in that application.
forScore is a powerful music reading app that can handle an entire library of charts you might have. It is very flexible in how you can organize your music. I was able to bring all of Sandi's charts into forScore and set up a set-list so the songs could be pulled up one after another which was a great timesaver.
I will be telling you a little more about forScore in an upcoming article so keep watching.
AirTurn is a company formed by musicians for musicians. That being said the passion they have put into the developement of this product shows. The AirTurn website is filled with tutorials and app reviews and recommendations to help you make sure you get the most out of the AirTurn experience.
You know how Apple loves to say "There's an App for that"; well you can say AirTurn has a video or tutorial for just about any situation you might run into. Having that kind of support means a lot when you are first starting out using this system.
You want to make sure you take advantage of the documentation, videos and FAQ as you will be amazed at what you can learn.
Turn Turn Turn
The days of having someone sit next to you whose sole purpose is to turn the page for you at a recital or performance are fading into the sepia toned memory of days gone by. I have some funny pictures in my mind of watching some page turners get into some predicaments.
AirTurn sets a new standard for forward thinking innovation that musicians will benefit from for years to come. One of the great things is that they are just getting started. As more App developers realize the potential uses for the AirTurn system you will start to see a lot of interesting applications that go far beyond just turning a page.
I know for me personally it has allowed me to be more productive in my performance and practice tasks as I can focus more on what matters...the music. I know the artists appreciate that as well.AirTurn is available now. Please use this link to find out more information on the AirTurn system and to place your order.