When it comes to sheet music, musicians have been slow to transition to the digital age. Sheet music and a pencil are still the tools the vast majority of musicians use to learn, practice and notate their music. But carrying around great stacks of sheet music is a hassle. And there is a better way hiding in plain sight — the humble tablet.
Bryan Wethington, who lives in Arlington, describes himself as “a musician, originally” and says he’s turned into more of an entrepreneur over the past few years. He freelances as a musician, meaning Wethington often needs to be prepared to play anything at a moments notice. This has traditionally meant that he can be found carting around a lot of sheet music — but Wethington wasn’t content with this tradition.
“I love tech. I love gadgets. I love new apps,” he said. So Wethington decided to combine all these things — his experience as a musician, his frustration with sheet music and his love of tech — and build an app.
The app that “transforms your iPad into a digital sheet music folder” officially debuted last week, but its history goes back a bit further than that.
Wethington said he originally sat down and started designing “the perfect app” a couple of years ago. Sure, there are some other sheet music reader apps out there, but Wethington saw room for improvement. His app would be intuitive, simple, beautiful and, perhaps most importantly, fast.
When it comes to making notations how how the music should be played “it needs to be faster than picking up a pencil,” he said. This is because Wethington views traditional, old-school IRL sheet music, not other apps, as his main competition. And he wants to be better than the competition.
Once he had designed the perfect app Wethington needed to find someone to help him build it because, well, he doesn’t know how to code. “I think I made a tip calculator once,” he laughs. So he brought on a team of developers from the firm Crafted, in New York City, and, over the past year-plus, they built MusicFolio for iPad.
“It took a while to get it right,” Wethington admits, but he sounded almost giddy with excitement as we spoke on the phone on launch day, June 16.
Wethington says the biggest challenge in creating the app was keeping it simple. As it stands the app contains a music library, tuner, metronome and grand piano screen, but he said it was important to take a step back from whatever other cool gimmicks could be added and focus on keeping the core of the app light. Not easy, necessarily, for a gadget guy. But ultimately Wethington hopes the simplicity and intuitiveness of his design will help win users.
MusicFolio is available for download for iPad — users can purchase month- or year-long subscriptions that allow them to upload unlimited sheet music.
— MusicFolio (@musicfolioapp) June 16, 2016
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