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Discussion Starter #1
Hello, friends.

In the context of solo performance with prerecorded accompaniment, at formal parties and wedding receptions, I have been struggling with the issue of page turns for years. Keep in mind that I am an intermediate-level player, playing in public for only a few years, and just now starting to do it for money.

Most of my scores are photocopies reduced to 8.5 x 11 inches. I keep them in three-ring notebook binders. In fact, I usually tape the edges together of two pages at a time, to facilitate page turns. In other words, pages 1 and 2 when opened simultaneously as facing pages, are not joined in the center, at the spine, but pages 2 and 3 are taped together at the outer edge. Likewise pages 3 and 4 are not joined at the back, but pages 4 and 5 are taped at the outer edge, and so on.

90% of my scores are photocopies of professional printings. Otherwise I could revamp them in a notation program, to put the page turns only where I had long rests, for example.

To make matters worse, some of my scores have six, seven, or eight pages to them. This is my biggest problem, as it now involves several page turns, sometimes in critical areas. In most cases these are scores that include not only the sax part but also the accompaniment. Consequently, if I were to edit out the accompaniment, and copy and paste the sax parts, I could probably reduce it to four pages, but this is a lot of work, especiallly when 40 songs are involved.

Some of my proposed solutions have been these:

1. buy a wider music stand, conductor style, remove the score in question, on the spot, and spread it all out.

I just bought one, to see how it went. The sides actually fold out, making it a bit wider than the ordinary conductor style. this Stagg version weighs about 25lbs! and cost me about $78.

Drawback: A) These stands can accommodate four or five pages, but not six, seven, eight. B) In such a case page turns are MUCH more complicated, because I would already have five loose pages laid out, some of which are taped together, some of which are not. How do you turn four pages from the first part of the song, to the next four pages of the second part? I cannot exactly throw the first page to the floor when it comes time to play the second set of four pages. What about repeats that take me back to the beginning or middle? C) After I pull the pages out of the binder, spread them out and play them, now I have to find a fast way to put them back. Otherwise I have to leave them scattered aside until the end of the party, and then spend 20 minutes putting them back in alphabetical order.

I suppose I could tape together the entire set of eight pages, accordian style, but I have not tried that, and don't have much hope for that approach. Maybe you have tried that and have a few observations to share?

2. Scan all 300 songs into digital format and use them on an iPad with a foot pedal.

Drawback: it would take forever to scan them, and my iPad is too small for that, which I just bought at a garage sale, and have never even used before. Then there is the issue of how to make annotations, corrections, etc. I hear that there is software for that, but this seems extreme.

3. Memorize the parts where I have page turns.

Drawback: my memory is horrendous due to certain health problems, worse than that of others my age. I am capable of screwing up one measure of four quarter notes, especially when nervous. I'm not as young as I used to be. I have some songs that I have tried to play by heart 50 times already, and still mess up parts of them. Laugh, if you will, but the point is that, rest assured, this option of memorizing the page turn areas has not been practical for me, the past ten years.

4. Memorize the entire song and play by ear.
Drawback: see No.3

5. Continue to flip pages as fast as I can, as I have for a few years already, and fake any parts that I cannot memorize or play in time for the page turn, especially where improvising.

Drawback: This has worked in about 50% of the cases, but not in th others. One wrong move, and I'm toast, if anyone in the audience is paying attention, and espcially if it is a melody part. (Incidentally, most of my page turns do not involve one measure of four quarter notes, but more like three measures of sixteenth note passages, including transcriptions of other soloists that I sometimes use as a general guide, even in public)

Anyway, I don't mean to sound lazy or spoiled, but just thought I would throw this out to see what solutions you professionals had come up with, over the years, just in case there was something that I was overlooking, before investing more money in a second music stand or an iPad or something.

In fact, when switch from soprano to tenor, during a gig, it usually takes so long to move my microphone, position the stand, move the music stand, and so on, to accommodate the new posture, that I have been toying with the idea of buying two wide conductor stands, and two mic stands, and having everything in place for faster switching without delays in performance. Even so, however, the one issue that still ruins it all is the fact that my scores often involve many pages and several turns, regardless of which stand I put them on.
 

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Im not a professional, just another intermediate player, but I would go with the scan and use tablet option if you can. Several people in my community band have gone down this route. Dont necessarily need a foot pedal to flip pages, and you can scan pages pretty easily now using just a cell phone camera, or even whats in the ipad you have. The limitation for you will be the size of the screen I suspect. They use pretty big tablets.

Plan B is photocopy, sort into order and bind into a coil bound book or ring binder, apply sequential tabs so you get the right "next" page, and flip the pages fast I guess, but this sounds kinda like where you are already at.

Plan C, Dont rely on the whole score. Once you know the tune well enough have the confidence to back off to just the bare bones on a "Real Book" type lead sheet? You may have to focus on a smaller number of tunes at first, and this is the somewhat terrifying transition from being what I am, a "technician" who can "follow the dots" and play a nice interpretation of someones arrangement, to a "real musician" who can go with the flow and make real magic happen from the bare bones of a tune.

Good Luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Nice advice, my friend. Thank you.
 

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You're a more advanced player than I am, so I give you credit and respect. My observation of musicians I've seen at gigs over the last 10+ years (sax, guitar, etc.) is that they have no sheet music at all. They play a variety of songs for hours - apparently by memory. I don't know how they do it other than by internalizing the songs and using that to guide the sound they make.
 

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After several years of putting off going digital, I finally did so recently in the last month or so. My main point against it was that the technology involved can get very expensive. I ended up with a used Microsoft Surface Pro 3, a bit outdated, but it's just for reading PDFs after all, you don't need 8gb of RAM just for that. It's 12", perfect size for me, although there have been smaller and larger versions more recently. It turns out you can get these used/refurbished, reasonably priced, pretty easily both on and offline. I got the cheapest page-turner pedal I could find online, works perfectly. I use the app MobileSheets, which again is perfect, you can write and draw on the music, make setlists of songs in the right order, etc. There's another guy in my big band who uses one of these too.

I scan music just using a basic scanning app on my phone. It looks great on the screen, but horrible (the background's a mess) if you actually print it, in my experience, though I suspect that's just the particular app I'm using, as well as the average camera on my phone. As soon as a new chart gets handed out in rehearsal, I scan it with my phone straight away, then put it on the Surface later.

As I said, I put this off for years, but now I'm not looking back, it's like the internet, you start to wonder how you ever got by without it.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Wow. Those guys that memorized the songs just kill me because I cannot do that myself.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
LaurJohn,

thanks for the encouragement. I guess I could eventually do that myself with an iPad bigger than the one I've got
 

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I know a guitar player that has 800-1000 scores loaded on an iPad type device (no paper) and uses a foot pedal to change the pages (forward and backward).
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Got it. Another vote for digitizing.
 

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I'm going to recommend narrowing your repertoire and memorize the music. Don't try to play stuff live that you don't know.

Since you're going after the wedding / corporate gigs, you can just memorize the 30 or so songs you'll need for the event. Those things are booked months in advance, giving you plenty of time.

Something else that will make it easier is to just memorize the head and the break and wing it from there. Your audience (for the most part) will never notice. If you can play the melody, you know the song.

I also consider myself intermediate at best, but I work a lot because I am an excellent networker, easy to work with, and play within my limits. As a result I get a lot of pick-up gigs. Often on short notice. My "Trick" is to make a cheat sheet. It includes the beginning phrase, and anything that gives me problems in my practice. I can easily fit a whole song on one line in a font big enough I can tape it to the floor and read it as I need it.

I really think you can give a better performance if you're not tied to a music stand. Eye contact and moving about the stage (or in the audience) will go a long ways to getting you more work. Good Luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Wow. Very interesting point of view and great suggestions. Thank you, Fader.
 

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My "Trick" is to make a cheat sheet. It includes the beginning phrase, and anything that gives me problems in my practice. I can easily fit a whole song on one line in a font big enough I can tape it to the floor and read it as I need it.
I've done this too. When playing/singing with more Rock/folk style bands who just have words with chords on top, I will type out the first line of the melody and put it on there, so I can see it and remember how the song goes. This has been a lifesaver with groups who have a big repertoire of songs that I barely know.

Yes, the best thing to do is to actually learn the music properly, to the point that you don't need to be reading note-for-note, but depending on the complexity and amount of music, that's not always possible. I know I for one, always play better if I have something on a low stand there, even if it's just for security, than when there's nothing and I'm spending the whole gig stressing out about remembering my parts. That's just my perfectionist nature, and also why I'm supposedly a classical player, haha.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Good point. Maybe I should start convincing myself that I really can learn the tunes without depending on the sheet music.

The fact is, I find that I can, indeed, learn 90% of the tune, but it is the three or four wrong notes that I hit every time--not necessarily in the same spots--that makes me revert to depending on the sheet music. I just find that unforgivable for a professional. And I'm not talking about the improvised parts, but the melody itself.
 

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... but it is the three or four wrong notes that I hit every time--not necessarily in the same spots--that makes me revert to depending on the sheet music...
That sounds very familiar to me, as I had that problem. Thinking about it, I think my reliance on the sheet music contributed to that happening. For example, one favorite song of mine in F major has a tricky, but enjoyable, sequence of notes floating around A, Bb, B-natural, and it would trip me up. I forced myself to play it slower and listen to the sequence - forcing myself to associate the sound I wanted to produce with the fingering needed to produce it. Now when I get to that part, I don't need the written notes - my fingers know what to do based on the tune in my head.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
very interesting
 

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It's like touch-typing I learned in high school (1960's): you look at a letter and are trained to make a finger movement. In the beginning, when presented with 3 or 4 different long runs of letters, you soon develop an eye-to-finger automatic reflex. No thinking involved! Similarly, associating the sound you want to make (a note) with the sax fingering for that note then becomes automatic. You don't need to see it written: the sound is in your head and your fingers know what to do to produce it.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
My brain does not work as well as yours, unfortunately.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
But I will try to convince it otherwise.
 
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