Tablet as a music stand?


Senior Member
Anyone using a tablet as a setlist/music stand? The setlist concept would be pretty easy, but the songbook thing might be a little more complex. A couple of the guys I play with at church use an ipad and I think it looks really slick. In fact, the guitar player even has a pedalboard that connects to the ipad via Bluetooth to let him advance songs.

For me, I'm still rocking the 3 ring binder on a music stand behind the kit. Mostly it's for keeping track of tempos (I program the click track) and intros. I've never been great at associating how a song begins just by hearing the title and my notes about intro and feel for the song are helpful. Once my memory is refreshed and the song is rolling, I don't need the music anymore, but it's more about the setup and getting in the right tempo/groove/feel for the song.

The biggest challenge at this point is the file management. 1) getting the data imported into the tablet, 2) retrieving it, sometimes on the fly in the middle of a set. The tablet I currently have is a Kindle Fire. I don't have an ipad and struggle to justify buying one just for this purpose. My wife and I both have iphone 5's; we have an imac and a macbook air at home. I don't see the ipad being used much outside of this role.

The simplest way I can think of to overcome #1 is to e-mail the setlist to my Kindle and open the set as a single PDF document and just scroll down for the next song. However, that still leaves the issue of in-set changes and also, the fact that the set is not usually finalized by the Worship Leader until Sunday morning; not allowing me time to load the set on my Kindle prior to coming to church.

I'd appreciate thoughts or ideas from anyone who is doing this successfully.


Silver Member
I've been doing this for some time and I love it.

Ipad + "set list maker" app + QuikLok IPS-11 iPad Holder

The app is really good and easy to get data into. It also allow sync with other ipads others in the band are using (which I have not tried yet).

I also use "DAW Remote" to control recording.

PM me if you have particular questions you dont want to post. ;-) Im not sure if the apps are avail for the Kindle. They are for android i think..


Platinum Member
What I'd do is something like the "dropbox" app. Though this has nothing to do with music, it is a file storage and organization tool. It syncs between more than one device so you can manage lists on your phone, pc or tab, and puts everything in one place; available online or offline.

Much easier than dealing with droid or apple file systems, and everything is backed up, too. Not only that, you can add bandmates to the account so they can put their own lists or edit yours and it's all synced.


Platinum Member
I do pretty much what DR_W suggests. I have a scanner with a document feeder upstairs to create the PDFs. iPad with pdf files on iCloud.

The same downsides apply as when you use it as a metronome.

- The tips of the sticks don't work on the iPad. You'll be SOOOOO tempted to try this every time even though you know it doesn't work and will scratch the shit out of your iPad.
- Occasionally, I will bump it, and it will pivot just far enough to make reading sheet music at an angle a PITA
- It's one more expensive thing to worry about.
- Embarrassing when bandmates catch you looking at porno
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Gold Member
This is an older thread but just looking into this myself. I just got an iPAD Mini and am experimenting with using it in place of my three ring binder on stage.

My current method
I use a spreadsheet with three columns.

-Song title and artist and BPM and opening vocal note
-How the song starts and basic drum part notes; HH1/4 4 on floor
-Song structure; I6 V16 C16 Br(eak) 4 V16 C16 Mid 8

I then organize the songs for each set as a single page. That way I don't have to worry about moving anything between songs.

I grabbed an App to view and edit spreadsheets but the mini is a little small to see my notes as described above.

I tried combining the second and third bits of information into a single column so I can actually read my notes and it seemed to work.

Will try it at rehearsal tonight. Just looked at set maker and it does lots of cool stuff I would like but still only displays one song at a time, which to me is a draw back.

But i like the idea that I will have no concerns about lighting my paper set list and, with a stand I have yet to purchase, can eliminate the music stand and binder.

I'll try to come back and report on whether this all works as hoped.


Silver Member
Our entire band (5 of us) use the Bandhelper app. It really is useful! It will store repertoire, set lists, has a calender for band events ( gigs, rehearsals, when someone is unavailable), a financials section, and even more features we haven't even used yet. The nice part is, it synchs automatically when you open it. So, one member can make an input, whether it be a new setlist or a date they will be out of town, and everyone else knows instantly. It also allows each individual to make their own custom notes that are not seen by other members.


Platinum Member
The horn section in my cover band have started using iPads instead of printed paper for their charts, which are written in full notation using "Sibelius". Saves a lot of paper, and the ipad is backlit, so no need for music stand lights.

The biggest issue for them is only seeing one page at a time, so they have to scroll or flick the page twice as often. This caused quite a few glitches at the first couple of gigs, whenever an important phrase went across a page, and they couldn't see the next bar until it was too late. Probably not an issue for chord charts or lists/grids which fit easily on one page though.

Of course, there's the risk of a flat battery or system crash, but using a file system like Dropbox means that the charts can be loaded on a backup ipad pretty easily. The biggest time saver is not having to move pieces of paper around four folders whenever the song order gets changed. (I personally still use a folder, and keep it in a drum case, so its always there and ready to go.)

In this band we use iPhones or iPads to set our own monitor mixes by remotely controlling the mixer aux sends, so most of the band use that same iPad for their cues, charts or lyrics. (The sound guy has locked us out of the main mix - we each only have access to our own monitor send via wireless.)

Finally - Lots of young jazz players I've seen have the whole real book in their ipad, so they're ready for any song that gets called. Easier than carrying (and buying) a big book.


Gold Member
Finally - Lots of young jazz players I've seen have the whole real book in their ipad, so they're ready for any song that gets called. Easier than carrying (and buying) a big book.
Not only do they have every real book ever printed, they can instantly transpose inot any key with the push of a button... blows my mind.

I've tried using my android tablet at gigs, and it just didn't do it for me. The screen would go to sleep, or dim, or if it didn't it would go through the battery after a couple of hours. Also, it just felt sort of tacky to me to see everyone in the band constantly messing around with their tablets/phones/pads et cetera.

I just couldn't get the hang of it, and I'm pretty good with my phone/tablet normally, but it felt odd. I think coming from jazz and musical theater, I've gotten so used to my accordian charts with all of my notes on them and being able to see the whole piece witout needing to flick a screen.


Gold Member
So I used my mini last night for practice. I cannot see the whole set at once so that does concern me a bit. But it was easy to see and no extra lighting needed for my notes like it is for paper. I am going to download the setlist app and try that. But it does only show one song at a time.

Our keyboard player uses another similar app and he changes songs with a simple swipe. There are a few songs we play immediately back to back and I might consider combining them into a single entry so I can see both without touching the iPAD.

I would keep my paper notebook as a backup in case there are problems, but this has promise.

The one my keyboard player uses also synchs with other tablets if set up. But what I put in my notes and what he puts in his notes are obviously different so it wouldn't benefit me to synch up that way.


Silver Member
...I am going to download the setlist app and try that. But it does only show one song at a time.
The Bandhelper app we use shows the complete setlist going down a column on the left side of the screen, with notations for notes, tempo, key, and/or copied/pasted lyrics on the right side. You can even use your iPhone if you don't have a tablet (as our guitarist does all the time, and I had to use it in a pinch last gig). There is even a function whereby it scrolls automatically based on your inputs for song length, time between songs, etc. For example, with the vocalist's lyrics, which might be too long to fit on the screen, if it knows the song is 3:42, it will adjust the scroll rate to the tune, i.e. You don't have to constantly fidget with the screen.

It really is a useful app. I may as well point out: I am in no way affiliated with Bandhelper -- my band just uses the app. The basic download with basic features is free. For full features, there is a subscription program (which is worth it to us). YMMV.