Affordable Digital Music Stands Pt1

It is quite common for churches to use presentation software to display lyrics for the congregation but until recently it was virtually unheard of to find systems that would display music for the worship team. These systems are often described as Digital or Electronic Music Stands.

Those of us who are involved in music ministry can relate to the headaches of copying and organizing piles of lead sheets and music. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a computer system that could do this and eliminate all the paper and headaches while providing some benefits not available in paper form? Some of the benefits may include:

  • Go Green! Eliminating paper, enough said.
  • Quick searches for impromptu song selection during a service.
  • Quickly transposing into a suitable key for the vocalist or for the capo’ed guitar.
  • Organizing music for different occasions (Easter, Christmas, communion, etc.), key signature, artists and more.
  • Easy last minute song changes. Change the song play list and the change is immediately available.
  • Attached audio file to play the song during the rehearsal.
  • Song tempo reference via built in visual metronome or click track.
  • And the list goes on…

Ultimately this amounts to more time for more important things like preparation in prayer, rehearsal and fellowship among the musicians.

There are digital music stands available for purchase, some are quite costly and it can be difficult to figure out what you need. In this series of articles I hope to share with you a custom system we have developed and to arm you with some knowledge to help you set up your own digital music stand display system.

First let’s cover some basics. If you search the internet for such a system they are difficult to find because they are often mixed in with congregation presentation software. When you find them they tend to come in two basic configurations.

  • Software only. These systems require you to supply the hardware and setup.
  • Integrated Hardware and Software. Often these are most expensive and out of reach of most churches budgets.

Of the software available they handle one or more of the following:

  • Chord lead sheets – lyrics with chord names above the words
  • Sheet music
  • Tablature notation display for Guitars only
  • A combination of the above

When looking for the right software package, keep in mind that many of these software packages are fairly new to the market and will have a wide range of varying features. Most offer a downloadable trial version, so evaluate them thoroughly before making a decision. Regardless of the software you choose the hardware will have the same basic components. We will focus here on putting the hardware together and on some of the important features in our custom Digital Music Stand.

In the next article in this series we’ll cover the hardware.

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