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The Best iPad Apps for Worship Leaders

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Let me start off by saying I’m am REALLY excited about this post!  I am a big tech Geek, and a huge mac fan.  My family has 2 MacBooks, 2 iPhones, and an iPad 2…plus a Time Capsule & an Airport express.  I think Mac makes an awesome product because it “just works!”  Anyways, given this insight into my life, after I got an iPad 2 about a year ago, I could not WAIT to figure out a way to use it in worship.  Below you’ll find some ways that I use my iPad in Worship settings, as well as a tool for growing in my faith.  Enjoy!

Sheet Music Apps:

When I first started looking into using the iPad for leading worship, I knew I was primarily going to use it as a place to store and access my Chord sheets.  Some of you may recall the article I wrote, “The DIGITAL BINDER” which involved a discussion of my “Digitization” of music to make leading worship easier.  So, I started scouring the iTunes Store for the perfect App.  Here are my discoveries:

OnSong

Why I got it:  Over the summer I took my Youth Group to a High School Youth Conference.  At the Conference, I almost fell out of my seat when I saw the ENTIRE worship band using iPads for their music!  I couldn’t resist, and so later on in the weekend I approached and asked them what they were using.  Their answer: “OnSong”.  At the time, I had GigBook and so I didn’t see a big reason to invest the money in another “Worship Binder App”, but as it came time to write this article, I started researching it and you’ll see why this is my new go-to app for a Worship Binder.

[learn_more caption="Click Here for Full Review of OnSong (Pro's & Con's)"] Pro’s:  OnSong introduced me to a variety of features and functions that I never thought about for a “Worship Binder” app. As far as I was concerned, a “Worship Binder” app was just a nice looking PDF reader – OnSong proved me wrong! Beyond being able to read .PDFs, .DOC’s, .DOCX’s , .TXT’s, and I a believe a few more other file formats – OnSong sets the gold standard for a “Worship Binder App”.  Allow me to list a few of the cool features that sets OnSong a part:

  • OnSong integrates with DropBox & MobileMe so you can sync YOUR ENTIRE LIBRARY between devices. This is great for me because now I know I’ll have a “backup” of my iPad Worship Binder on my iPhone. I’ve been in many a situation where I wish I had my Worship Binder with me.  Now, it’s on my phone in those situations!
  • Along the lines of syncing, OnSong can also use bluetooth technology in two amazing ways: 1) Sync to a bluetooth pedal for easy page turning. 2) Sync to another iOS device for chord sheet mirroring. In other words, the rest of my band can see my iPad screen, and as I turn the pages, the rest of the band is right there with me!
  • OnSong can import Chord Sheets FROM THE INTERNET! Using the import function you can add a new song manually, download it from your Dropbox or MobileMe accounts, OR find it online using either CCLI’s SongSelect or the “Internet” feature which searches the Chordie.com database for chord sheets.
  • One of its biggest features is its ability to hook up to a projector through the Apple VGA monitor adapter for the iPad and project ONLY THE LYRICS from your chord sheet! (This of course necessitates the proper “format” of the chord sheet within OnSong, but it’s still a function I’ve used and love!)
  • These are just some of the most outstanding features I’ve found in my short time using it! I highly encourage you to click the link below to find more technical information about the app such as: auto-scrolling, iTunes audio integration, and more!
  • Also, I have to tip my hat to Jason Kichline, lead architect for OnSong, who was amazingly available to help me with any of my issues for the app.  Just visit the app’s website and you can see how active of a developer he is and how he always listens to the growing community of users.

Con’s: OnSong’s greatest strength in my opinion is it’s ability to manipulate your song sheets – whether that means transposing the song into another key with the touch of a button, or projecting the song onto a screen without revealing the chords. The biggest obstacle I’m currently facing with OnSong is that in order to get the full functionality out of this robust app, it requires chord sheets to be in a plain text file format (.TXT) AND it uses specific “tags” to help the app read & sort out data such as “Song Title”, “Key”, “Tempo”, “Chords”, etc. As a result, I’m going to have to convert my entire binder library which is primarily .PDF’s & .DOC’s. While the app has a “CONVERT” function which has worked about 75% of the time on the few files I’ve converted, it sometimes doesn’t convert perfectly requiring me to go into the song within the app and fix the formatting.  For the 25% of the time it has been unable to convert the app, it’s easy enough for me to open a PDF on my macbook, copy the text into MS Word, save as a .txt file put it in my dropbox, and then import the file into OnSong.  To be honest though, I’m going to take it one song at a time.  As I plan my next set, I’ll see what songs need to be converted and do it then, because believe me this app is so worth it![/learn_more]

For more information on OnSong check it out at the iTunes store here.

GigBook

Why I got it:  This was my first “Worship Binder App.”  At the time, this app had the best UI (user interface) and I was really encouraged by the reviews.  It seems that right now they are giving it away at 60% which is really cool.  It’s only $4.99 in the appStore.  This app is a GREAT PDF reader & organizer (which in turn means it’s great for SHEET MUSIC users vs Chord Chart users who may want to transpose or project their works).  I definitely recommend it for those who are primarily interested in storing & organizing your sheet music.

[learn_more caption="Click Here for Full Review of GigBook (Pro's & Con's)"] Pro’s:  What I love about GigBook is that it’s nice an ORGANIZED. You can create Playlists for specific events, or create Binders that are compilations of types of songs you use over and over, like a “Wedding Binder” or “Pentecost” binder etc.  You can also store your songs individually in the library and input data like keys, genre, artist, etc for easy sorting later on. It is an especially good app if you are only concerned with seeing the chords yourself, since many .PDF files are nicely formatted for the musician including chord charts, reflections, and the like. (Which are typically not available on plain text lead sheets.)

Con’s: The biggest down side to Gig Book is that everything needs to be in PDF form. So if you’re working with Docs, you’ll have to convert them. Also, I often find myself  having to look up a song on the fly at an event, find it online, and then want to save it by taking a screen shot.  Up until I found PicturetoPDF I had to have GigBook open AND my camera roll, which became tiresome.  Even with PicturetoPDF however, the extra steps to import a new song were an obstacle.[/learn_more]

For more info on GigBook check it out at the iTunes store here.

Two other apps I would recommend for their ability to read .PDF’s & .DOC’s files would be Readdle Docs & iAnnotatePDF iAnnotatePDF is especially useful for marking up PDF’s with highlights, sticky notes, and the like.

Also, if you’re going to use a worship app that primarily uses the PDF file format, you should also get the this app: PicturetoPDF.  It gives you the ability to take a picture on your iDevice and convert that to a PDF so you can add whatever you took a picture of (sch as a screen shot or a piece of paper with chords scribbled on it) to your library.

Ok, so you’ve got your music, but before you head out to your next event, there’s a couple other apps I’d recommend on your device to make you a more well rounded Catholic worship leader:

Other Suggested Apps:

 

[tabs slidertype="left tabs"] [tabcontainer] [tabtext]iPieta[/tabtext] [tabtext]iMissal[/tabtext] [tabtext]iBreviary HD[/tabtext] [tabtext]USCCB Homepage[/tabtext] [tabtext]OliveTree Bible Reader[/tabtext] [tabtext]IHOP[/tabtext] [tabtext]Gibson L&M Guitar[/tabtext] [/tabcontainer] [tabcontent] [tab]iPieta is a phenomenal Catholic app that gives you The Bible, Church Calendar + readings in Latin & English, 1,000′s of Prayers, & an entire LIBRARY of Catholic literature including the Summa Theologica by St. Thomas Aquinas, various works by other saints, Papal documents & encyclicals, writings of the Fathers of the Church, Catechetical material and more! It’s my go-to app for anything Catholic. And since everything is store on the iDevice (it’s a big download) I have it no matter what! CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION[/tab] [tab]iMissal is great as a worship leader because, well it’s the Roman Missal. It also lays out the Readings in a way that is conducive to using it live when you need to sing/chant the psalm of the day. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION[/tab] [tab]iBreviaryHD is the best app for those who want to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. It also downloads the daily readings as well. It’s the prettiest of these apps, but it’s also really useful because you can download weeks or days in advance so if you won’t be somewhere with internet connection you can be assured you can still celebrate the liturgy with the Church. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION[/tab] [tab]Although it’s not an app, I think every Catholic musician should have http://www.usccb.org as a home page icon on their iDevice simply because so much is accessible from this site including: NAB translation of the Bible, & the readings of the day. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION[/tab] [tab]I really wanted a Bible app I could “live in”. While I haven’t replaced my hardcopy RSV, OliveTree is great because of its functionality in terms of comments, highlights, and notes – along with the ability to purchase more works like other translations, commentaries, and concordances. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION[/tab] [tab]IHOP-KC – The International House of Prayer in Kansas City is a huge inspiration for me in terms of my worship. It is a non-denominational community dedicated to musical worship 24/7. This app allows me to tap in their live audio or video feed anytime! CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION[/tab] [tab]Gibson L&M Guitar App (tuners + chords) – I think we all need SOME app that has a tuner on it (especially since I don’t like carrying around a tuner). This was my choice for it’s user interface, lessons, and chord dictionary! CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION>[/tab] [/tabcontent] [/tabs]

But wait, there’s more!
Did you know you’re iPad can make noise?   Check out this video featuring “The Rend Collective” to see how they used their iPhones to play a worship song.  More info on how to use the iPad as an instrument can be found here at Loops in Worship an awesome blog about using modern technology in worship.

Accessories:

And here’s some accessories you may also want to consider:

  • Case (I highly recommend the Targus 360 Rotating Stand and Cover)
  • iPad stand (There are a lot out there, I use the iKlip that was designed for the first iPad – that’s why I recommend the Targus case, since it allows the iPad2 to fit into this microphone stand-mounted stand.)
  • Bluetooth Pedal (I have used 1 USB pedal, and 1 other blue tooth pedal.  Stay tuned for my review of the Air Turn BT-105 to see why I think it’s the best)
  • RCA Cord for audio (An easy way to play your iPad music to a sound system.)
  • VGA Out Cord (A MUST have if you’re going to use OnSong)

I really hope you appreciated this blog post.  I had a lot of fun writing it and putting it together.  Technology moves so fast, but I think these apps are a good foundation.  Let me know if there are any other apps that YOU use!

And look forward to my VIDEO REVIEWS of the OnSong app + the Air Turn BT-105 bluetooth pedal COMING SOON!

One more thing…(FREE GIVEAWAY)

As I mentioned in the post, Jason from OnSong was an incredibly helpful and generous developer to work with.  Thanks to him, the CW Blog has 5 free downloads of the OnSong app to give away to NEW SUBSCRIBERS.  So here’s the deal CLICK HERE TO BECOME A CW BLOG USER & JOIN OUR E-NEWSLETTER LIST, then post a comment to this article requesting one of our free download codes.  I’ll confirm your user registration & if you’re one of the first 5, it’s YOURS!  Thanks again to Jason from OnSong!

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