Planning Center Music Stand and Tablets!


It is amazing how much technology has advanced over the past few decades. A modern smartphone is more powerful than the supercomputer used for the Apollo landings.  Today, you can read your music on a tablet rather than paper music.  More and more of our orchestra uses tablets to read their music for a variety of reasons.  If you are interested, I recommend talking with one of our orchestra members about why they switched.  Chances are, they may have even had similar concerns before they made the switch!


Why use a Tablet?

  1. The convenience of having all of your music inside one device.  No more lost parts!
  2. Superior visibility over paper.  The sharp display of a tablet is brighter than stand lights.  This is especially helpful when special lighting effects are being used, as the screen is not affected like sheet music.
  3. Your music will always be clean and organized.
  4. Optional accessories simplify page turns!

What do I need?

  • An Android Tablet or iPad
  • Download the free app Music Stand
  • Your Planning Center account login
  • Optional Bluetooth Pedal (i.e. Airturn Duo)

How reliable is it?

  • Many orchestra members successfully used tablets on our Germany service trip.  This saved us from printing as much music when changes were made!
  • You will want to ensure your tablet is charged before rehearsal and Sunday services.  Most tablets will have plenty of battery life to last.  However, owning a backup battery pack is very handy!
  • By pre-loading your music, you can ensure you always have your music, and save valuable time when switching.

What happens if we can't get internet at Colonial?

  • Colonial's WiFi has been vastly improved over the past two years and it is much more capable of handling the large volume of users we have every Sunday.  Most of the time, this will work without any problems!
  • If Colonial's WiFi does fail, we have WiFi hotspots available which will still work.

What if Planning Center's Servers go down?

  • Planning Center uses AWS (Amazon Web Services), which has only failed once.  You can't get much more reliable than this.

How Big of a Screen should I get?

  • Many of our orchestra members are happy using the 9.7-inch "normal" iPad size.
  • The aspect ratio of a screen can be more important than the screen size.  A widescreen tablet will leave much of your display unusable as it is closer in dimensions to legal-size paper, not the normal 8.5 x 11.
    • 16:9 is great for watching movies, but terrible for sheet music.
    • There are some android devices now available with a 3:2 or 4:3 ratio instead of more-common 16:9.  I recommend looking for these first.


What devices should I consider?

  • 12-inch iPad Pro (~$900+)
    • The 12-inch iPad Pro is nearly identical in size to paper.  If you want a large screen, this is a great choice.
    • These are quite expensive, especially if you also purchase the Apple Pencil and Keyboard.
    • You can find refurbished tablets in the $600 range.  Try searching on Amazon or NewEgg.
  • 9.7 inch iPad Air (~$600+)
    • Many orchestra members report that they are able to read off the smaller screen of the iPad better than paper with the stand lights - despite the smaller size!
    • You can find used or refurbished iPads for $250.  This can be a better decision than buying a low-end android tablet for ~$100.  Look for the iPad Air 2.
  • Samsung Chromebook Plus ($400)
    • Large. clear screen comparable to the iPad pro.
    • 2-in-1 style tablet with built-in keyboard and stylus. 
    • Great value for the hardware.
    • This is a Chromebook, not an Android tablet. However, it will run Android Apps without problems.
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 with 4:3 ratio ($500)
    • Most Samsung Tablets have a widescreen display, which is not great for viewing music. This particular Samsung Tablet looks very similar to the iPad, due to a matching 4:3 ratio. 
    • The price is lower than an iPad, but I believe the iPad is the better choice.
  • Cheap Large-Screen Android Tablets (~$100)
    • There are numerous brands of low-cost tablets available on the market today, many of which have large displays.
    • For example, a 13-inch widescreen 16:9 display may not use all of the display, but the size makes up for it.
    • It will need to run Android Kit-Kat or newer (so Kitkat, Lollipop Marshmallow Nougat).  The oldest device I have found to buy now is version 4.4 of Kit-Kat, which works!