The benefits are clear. However, are there any downsides? If you’re playing solo, the disadvantages are very manageable, because you are the only person affected. If you are performing in a group (band, choir, etc); it becomes more critical, because your actions affect those around you.
These are the biggest disadvantages I’ve experienced, along with the strategies I use to deal with these issues.
- Manage your battery life. If you’re in an all-day rehearsal, it’s counter productive when your sheet music suddenly turns off. Keep an eye on your battery levels, or even better, carry a spare battery pack.
- Light. It’s a great thing to be able to see your music in a darkened church. However, that light reflects off of your face, too! You have to be very careful if you’re singing in a choir where everyone is using paper- or you may appear to have your own spotlight.
- Tech Goes Wrong. If you choose to use a tablet, you must rehearse with it so that you have instinctive responses to when you click on the wrong button in performance. Not if. When. We don’t think of paper lyrics or notes as musical instruments; but in effect they are. Give your tablet the same benefit of the doubt- if you’re going to go digital, go all the way and stop using paper even in rehearsal.
- Fiddling with Tech. In rehearsal, if the director isn’t working with you or your section, the temptation to check your mail, play a game, surf the web, etc. is impossible to ignore. Just be sure to keep a half an ear on what’s going on; so that you don’t get caught out.
- Spit. Yes, this is a thing. It is not something you ever notice with paper, because any tiny droplets that are exhaled get absorbed into the page. Not so with glass. Be prepared to deal with one or the other tiny droplet.
- Organization. The great benefit to going digital is that you can have EVERYTHING on your tablet. A great problem with having EVERYTHING on your tablet is that you can’t perform if you can’t find your music, due to it being shuffled in with everything else. Going to digital music implies a time commitment of many hours initially, and up to an hour or two per choir season, to organize everything where you can find it.