Over a year ago, I wrote about my love for my iPad and how amazing it was to just carry around a small device that stored all my sheet music. Since then, I've had the honor to play for many dance and musical theater shows with my humble 1st Gen iPad. I've also put many "miles" on two major page-turn foot pedals that have been in the market since the iPad came out.
The PageFlip Cicada, and AirTurn. I
can go into the specks and the nerdie-techie side of these two devices,
but there are already some good reviews out there on these pedals. Instead, I'm simply going to write about my personal experience with these two pedals.
year, as I was prepping for Orange County School of the Art's Fall
Production of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee." I purchased
the PageFlip Cicada per the recommendation from the lovely people at forScore
when I told them price is a factor in making a decision. My first
impression of the pedal was that it was kind a flimpsy piece of plastic.
Pairing the device was a little annoying, because you had to enter a
code for the pairing to work. The other downside to this pedal is, you
have to turn the pedal off to be able to use your keyboard because your
iPad sees it as an external keyboard. It was also noisy and made a
clicking sound when you pushed on the pedal. But it did the job that I
needed it to do. Turn pages.
One month into our
production, the pedal started skipping pages. I contacted PageFlip
asking if they have suggestions of what to do, they simply sent me a new
pedal. The second pedal worked beautifully, until Day #2 of our show.
In the middle of the number "Pandemonium," the pedal stopped working.
(Ironic, no?) I pushed it several times, and still the page didn't turn.
So I quickly touched the screen to turn the page. I must have had two
fingers on it because the "search content" option came up and the screen
darken. (This was how I set up the app to make finding music faster.) I
looked at the top right corner of my iPad screen, and noticed that the
pedal was no longer connected. The Bluetooth symbol says it's "on" but
not connected to any devices. I kept playing, and kept pushing on the
pedal in hopes that it would reconnect. It did. The Bluetooth symbol
flickered, and reconnected my pedal. By this point, my iPad was
thinking, "Oh, you pushed the pedal 6 times while it wasn't connected so
let me catch up to you!" By this point, I was completely lost in my
music. I had to depend on my instincts that I know this show and can do
it in my sleep and survived through Act 1 mostly from memory.
intermission, I decided to re-pair the device by "forgetting" the
device and pairing it again. There was something I noticed. Because all
these people were in the theater, I was picking up about 20 Bluetooth
signals. Now, not having much knowledge of how Bluetooth technology
worked, I immediately assumed the pedal was getting a
Bluetooth-interference from the audience because there were simply too
many devices out there. Act II wasn't any better. The pedal kept losing
connection and I ended up playing the rest of the show by memory. Goes
to show you, you can't always depend on technology to work, and you
still have to rely on your skills.
After the run of
the show, I emailed PageFlip again with videos showing him exactly what
happened in the middle of a performance. The PageFlip guy was kind
enough to send me yet another pedal that he personally tested himself.
The 3rd pedal was fine until I had to take it somewhere. The back-pedal
stopped working, and something was rattling inside. That was when I
decided that perhaps I need to look into the AirTurn. Going through 3
pedals in a year isn't economical for anybody. In reality, if I had to
repurchase the PageFlip Cicada 3 times, I would have just purchased the
AirTurn in the first place. Lesson learned.
finally got the AirTurn, my first impression already was that it was a
much sturdier pedal. It's made in the US of A, unlike the Cicada which
was made in China. The pairing was simple. No complicated codes to
enter. You simply turn on your pedal, turn on the Bluetooth on your
iPad, and pair up the device. It was quick and easy. Another advantage
was the ability to get your iPad keyboard to pop up if I need to respond
to an email or hop on Facebook to post a snarky status. All you have to
do is push the little red button, and the keyboard pops up. How
fantastic is that?
The touch compared to the Cicada
feels a little different. The Cicada had a medal contact that would
trigger the page-turn. I know this because after the third pedal, my
dear husband took the pedal apart to see how it worked. The AirTurn's
pedal is shaped like a U. It takes a little bit more muscle, but only be
a smidge. The AirTurn takes no time to get use to. Because of the
sturdiness of the pedal, it's much more ideal for gigging musicians like
myself. Let's be reasonable. I take very good care of my things. I'm
not one to play frisbee or broom hockey with it. But I do work with jr
highers and high schoolers half the time, and with dancers the other
half of the time. This means, there is always a slight possibility that
someone might accidentally kick it across the stage or studio floor. In
that case, AirTurn wins by a landslide. (Kids, I do not recommend any of
you doing that. It was just an example!)
decided if I was going to do a write-up about these pedals, the AirTurn
needs to survive through my high school Fall Production of "Thoroughly
Modern Millie." Well, not only did this little guy survive, he passed
with flying colors. I did run into a small snag, it had nothing to do
with AirTurn, but everything to do with my humble 1st Gen iPad. I guess
it's that time to upgrade.
At the end of the day, I
need a device I can depend on. I highly recommend the AirTurn to any
gigging musicians out there who is using the iPad. Not for just the
durability, but also the fact that you can use your internal keyboard
with the pedal connected. To me, that was a huge win in my book. The
PageFlip Cicada is still a good device, however, not for a professional
musician. If you were say, a private instructor and teach out of your
own home, and the Cicada stays in one place, it works great. But if you
are traveling on a daily basis from one location to the next, AirTurn is
the way to go!
Interested in purchasing the Airturn?
Interested in purchasing the PageFlip?