Ask the Expert – Is there a digital solution for worship bands to the problem of chord charts and sheet music?
We had an email from Dave at Cheam Baptist:
“We have been wondering how best to provide sheet music for our musicians and are looking for an alternative to using numerous different songs of fellowship books. One option is to gradually build up a library of individual sheet music for each song then create an individual folder for each musician per service.
However in this increasingly paperless age this seems rather antiquated. So I would be very grateful if you could pass round an e-mail to your musos network asking if people have any tips on the best digital methods of displaying music for a worship band. I am assuming that I-PADs are too small?
Are largish TV screens an option? ie a couple positioned stragetically so everyone can see them. Page turning controlled by singers?”
Rather than tackle this ourselves, we asked Brenda Cameron, developer of Power Music to answer. We’ve used her wonderful technological soluntion ourselves and can highly recommend it:
A digital solution for worship bands to the problem of chord charts and sheet music
A solution implies a problem which needs solved, so what is a massive problem facing worship bands today?
We are in a digital age. Everything has gone digital – when did you last write a letter instead of sending an email to a friend or colleague? Mobile phones can now give you books, email, photos, music – all in your pocket. Your church probably has a song projection system for multi-media display. All these are benefits which save precious time and help to impart information in an interesting way, helping the congregation to focus better as a whole.
Meanwhile, while more and more congregations are benefitting from all things digital – what about the musicians? You plug in and switch on your instrument, have a sound check, but who sorts out the music? Usually one person takes on the job by default – finding the song sheets or hymn books, perhaps making photocopies or digging into the binder which holds all the copies. Perhaps you have the PDF files and print them out as you need them. What was that song filed under again? ‘Here I am to worship’ or ‘Light of the world’? Time is rushing by – has everyone got a copy of all songs in the set list? In the correct key? The worship leader has changed the order at the last minute. He/she wants to combine several songs together so that the flow is better. As worship teams spend time working on eliminating distractions so that they can focus on the job of leading the congregation in true worship, surely it makes sense for them to leave paper behind and go digital, too?
One answer which provides a solution is the software Power Music.
This can be used by the whole band on nice large widescreen monitors (22” or 24”) to display two or three pages side by side. Everyone sees the same song at the same time. Result – they play the same song at the same time, and in the same key! The worship leader decides to skip the next couple of songs. Easy – use the foot pedal to turn the pages and move through the playlist. Use chord sheets? Key too high? Press the minus key or a button if you have a touch screen and transpose the chords down instantly. Use a capo? Let Power Music generate the capo chord shapes for you and tell you which fret to use!
There is an extensive Chord Sheet editor which can import directly from PDF to create transposable chords! Alternatively, copy and paste from a word processor, or just type your own chords and lyrics and PM will interpret the chords for transposing. For sheet music you can import from PDF or scan directly in using the inbuilt scanner interface.
The features of Power Music are too numerous to mention here, you can find out more details here: http://cambronsoftware.co.uk/products/software/power-music/overview.html
There have been many additions to Power Music over the years, such as an amazing ‘Annotations’ feature complete with a chord chart gallery and music symbols. The main version is now Power Music 4, which runs on Windows. There is a new Mac version soon to be released.
There is also a free iPad app, which integrates with the online www.powermusicbox.com. All the song creation and importing is done in the main version of PM and then you can upload your songs to your ‘Power Music Box’ for download to the app or to your church computer.
Looking for content? A new addition recently has been www.powermusicstore.com where you can buy ready-made ‘Virtual Songbooks’ for download directly to Power Music. These songbooks contain lyrics, chord sheets and sheet music and the range will be (legally) added to as time goes on. Power Music has been used in the digital versions of the Spring Harvest songbooks – these are available in the Store. Also available is a collection of Musicademy’s own ‘Super Chord Charts’ with transposable chords.
The conclusion is that there IS a ‘Digital Solution for Worship Bands’. Download the free trial and see for yourself.