Caleb Overstreet on How to Conduct a Digital Revolution

by airturn

Caleb Overstreet is a senior at Baylor University in Texas, and is getting ready to graduate with a Bachelors of Vocal Music Education in May 2013.  I had the opportunity to meet Caleb at the 2012 TMEA (Texas Music Educators Association) Convention in San Antonio, where he in turn had his first exposure to the possibilities of reading and working with sheet music digitally.  I will never forget the “saucer eyes of wonder” on Caleb’s face!  Very soon afterwards, Caleb dove headlong into the world of digital sheet music.  Here’s his perspective on this new technological – and musical –  journey.

Caleb Overstreet

As a musician, I am a singer first and foremost.  Additionally I play the piano and guitar. I am a member of a handful of choirs at school, two of which tour regionally as well as nationally. Apart from school, I lead worship at my church, as well as playing at special occasions such as weddings. Looking ahead, I will be a choir director, hopefully at a Texas public high school within the next few years.

The decision to switch from paper to digital sheet music was more of a mental decision and desire to change long before I was actually able to due to the strain and rigor of being in college and working. I switched, however, due to the convenience and the longevity of digital music. Anytime I have my iPad, I always have my entire choral library, all my worship songs, as well as any other music with me! In just the few months I have had my music digitized, I cannot count the amount of times that I have benefited from the convenience of digital music!

I use a combination of things in addition to my digitized music. I use my 64GB 4G+WIFI Apple iPad in addition to my old and aging Toshiba Satellite laptop to transfer files from my hard drive to my iPad. Additionally, as I continue to expand my digital library, I plan on getting an external hard drive to store the original files so I can have everything backed up just in case something were to happen to my iPad. I have an ever-increasing amount of full choral scores, a handful of full orchestral scores, about 30 or so voice and piano solos, along with a hundred plus chord charts – all of which is increasing slowly. I get this music from various places. Most of my music right now is scanned in by myself, however I am beginning to use digital downloads from various places online.

I do not have any particular case for my iPad, simply because it stays in my backpack or briefcase as I go to rehearsals or performances. However, while I am playing worship, I have gotten quite a bit of use out of a product called “TheGigEasy”. It is a mount that is custom built for the iPad that clamps on the side, or it can be attached to the top of a normal mic stand. It makes performing in smaller spaces very convenient, and I have even come to prefer it over the much larger music stand. After all, when it is attached to the side of a mic stand, it makes for one less music stand clogging up space on the stage.

Lastly, I make great use of the AirTurn BT-105 foot pedal, particularly used for turning pages while playing or conducting. It certainly turns heads of others who realize that I am not turning pages while I am conducting off of my iPad, which turns enough heads by itself, but they are even more impressed when I show them how convenient it is with the AirTurn pedal system. Additionally, it works perfectly in the worship setting. There are several times when I need to look ahead for seamless transitions from one song to the next.  I can do so without having to stop playing to turn the page with my hand; instead, I simply tap the pedal with my foot without having to stop playing. Also, there are times where I feel I want to go back and repeat the chorus of a previous song, in which I simply tap the back pedal and it turns back the page! I truly cannot express to you how amazing and seamless this one pedal can make playing and conducting!

Caleb conducting from his iPad and turning pages hands free with an AirTurn

I am very grateful for all the people who helped me along the path and make this transition possible for me. I look forward to continuing my musical career as a pioneer to the digital music world, and am excited about where it is heading!