Digital Music Stand – iPad in Worship

I’ve had my iPad (version 1 just in case you were wondering) for a while now and I have been testing it out as a digital music stand.  Well, it works.  It just plain works.  I don’t have to print out charts any more and I feel good about that.  Plus, on songs with multiple pages, it couldn’t be simpler than a swipe or tap instead of trying to arrange the charts just right on a music stand and then scrambling to change to the next song, etc….

I’ve tried several apps, pdf readers and websites to see which is the best and I still feel that the perfect one is yet to be found.  That said, however there is one that stands out above the rest.  I use OnSong because of it’s ability to load songs from Dropbox and to create Setlists as well as some cool annotation features.  It also includes the ability to link the chart to the mp3 so you can listen as you practice and get that guitar lick right.


Of course you also need a stand so you don’t accidentally swipe your iPad onto the ground.  I choose the X Clip.  It’s easy and it works.


Anyway, hope this helps anyone who was thinking about either grabbing up the old model now that the new one is coming out or in fact diving into the new iPad 2.  Either way, I think it is a great solution for a digital music reader.





12 thoughts on “Digital Music Stand – iPad in Worship

  1. Matt
    I have been considering using the iPad as a digital music stand; I don’t have an iPad yet. It is a very compelling idea to deal with all the leadsheets I have and the paper shuffling. I have been researching various apps. You said you have tried various apps. Since you are swiping, you must be a keyboard player; as a guitar player I would need to get a footswitch too. I looked at OnSong, but it looks like unrealBook might be a better choice for me. I was curious as to whether you have tried it and why you settled on OnSong.

  2. I definitely LOVE the iPad as a digital music stand. Honestly, I don’t know how I played without it!!!
    I haven’t specifically tried unrealBook, but I have used other pdf readers (which, it seems, is essentially what unrealBook is) and going that way works. However, OnSong, is the best I’ve used yet for leading worship.

    Here are a couple reasons:
    1. Instant Key Changes – When you have taken the time to program a song in ‘onsong’ format, you can do things like highlight chords, change font sizes, and change keys on the fly. I have found this super useful when playing with other leaders, or even when my voice is not feeling 100% and I need to lower a song.
    2. The setlist function – It works really well and I am able to customize the flow of the set in seconds.
    3. Connection to DropBox – I pretty much live on Dropbox and this app syncs really well with it. I am able to work on a song on my laptop and then put it in dropbox and sync immediately with OnSong. Side Note: I also have started a shared folder with those others here at my church who use the app so we collaborate in creating the ‘onsong’ versions of songs and sync them to dropbox to share.


    I am a guitar player and I have considered the footswitch, but haven’t purchased it yet. Because you can simply tap the left or right of the iPad screen, it’s pretty simple to change pages. When I compare with to how I used to flip paper charts, it’s much less distracting.

    There are a bunch of other little things about the app I like, but check it out and decide if it works for you.
    Ultimately its got to feel comfortable so as not to be distracting from the real purpose of worshipping God!

    Hope this helps!


  3. Matt

    Thanks for the feedback and additional info about how you are using OnSong. You’ve given me some things to consider.

    I agree that the whole idea of using the iPad as a tool in worship is to remove distractions instead of adding new ones. I also would like to have all my music organized and ready to use at anytime. That is a pretty ambitious goal, but it is one whose time has come.

    Thanks again for the prompt response.


  4. Matt,
    Do you or have used ccli? If so any easy way to download music to on song or dropbox? Where can I get chord sheets for most current worship songs other than ccli, higher praise or ultimate-guitar? Suggestions?


  5. @Steve – Unfortunately, right now there is no way to get charts directly from CCLI or anywhere else into OnSong…
    They have to be converted into the ‘chord-pro’ format to utilize all of the key change and font features.
    That said, you can just import any pdf and OnSong reads it just fine. You just can’t transpose, etc.
    When I am in a hurry and I need a chart faster than I can convert it, I just save it from CCLI or somewhere else into a pdf on my mac dropbox folder then import it into OnSong.
    The song conversion kind of clunky at first, but once you have a library of a few songs, transcribing a song or two a week is not that labor intensive.


  6. Hey Matt, thanks for the tip.
    I’ve been taking photos on my iPad2 of each of the songs in our setlist in order, and then just swiping through them during worship. I’ve been looking for an app that will allow me to organize them all in one place and create setlists on the iPad itself.
    I think I’ll give onsong a try and see how it works out.

    I also wanted to tell you about iKlip (google it)
    It’s a great little device that will hold either generation of the iPad and attaches to any mic stand. I have totally gotten rid of my music stand for good.

    One thing I’ve been doing that has helped is to cut up the CCLI charts and then arrange them so that everything important in the song fits into one screenshot. I wonder if this is easier than actually cutting and pasting everything into a PDF or Word doc…

  7. Hi Matt,
    I just downloaded onsong and am very excited to get started on it. When I tapped on the slider icon at the top right it said “To make the most out of OnSong, first convert this song to text using the song editor.” How do I do this? I have been looking and can’t find it.

  8. Hi Matt
    Thanks for your post. I had not come across OnSong and I have tried out many iPad sheetmusic reader apps.
    But I wonder, does that work well for classical music? I’m a classical guitarist and my pieces often range between 8-15 pages.
    Do you know iRollMusic ( by any chance and how that compares to OnSong?

    BTW my cousin wrote some software to manage his worship choirs (for windows, sorry to mention it here) but since you’re doing the same kinda thing I thought I’d mention it here ( Feel free to ignore since it’s quite of topic.

  9. What are the various problems you guys faced with the digital music stand? I intend to invent an Electronic score book which will fine-tune all the problems.

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