March 2020 - London Musical Theatre Orchestra

LMTO’s Playlist of Pure Joy

When times are tough, musicals help. Read below for our favourite happy showtunes, and have a listen to our official playlist!

Legally Blonde (Remix), Legally Blonde

The feel-good factor starts on the downbeat of this number. It’s the moment that protagonist Elle Woods realises that she won’t be cowed by people’s expectations and proves that she can do anything. The lyrics are punchy and confident (“Nobody screws with somebody who’s legally blonde”) so are bound to give you a boost. And the music is epic, moving seamlessly from funky pop to full-on Riverdance about four minutes in.

Good Morning, Singin’ in the Rain

Surely the best musical start to the day that’s ever been written. It’s three and a half minutes of silliness with a dance break to die for. And there’s some banging big band in there – just check out those trumpets! Listen to this first thing and you’re bound to start your day with a smile.

Go Go Go Joseph, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Could we really write a list of joyful music without including some Joseph? We’re spoilt for choice in this Andrew Lloyd Webber megahit, but this one wins because it starts off super depressing, then out of nowhere it becomes this epic disco number that simply demands to be danced to. It’s all about not giving up hope, and reminds us that, even if things seem tough right now, one day they’re going to be brilliant. It’s worth listening if only for the very last phrase, which is just so glorious we might cry.

Do-Re-Mi, The Sound of Music

Surely the words Julie and Andrews are enough to make anyone feel good. But you really don’t get more wholesome (or meta!) fun than Do-Re-Mi: a song about singing. It’s physically impossible not to join in, because it’s exquisitely simply and just repeats the same thing over and over again. And that’s a good thing! So embrace your inner child, don your imaginary dirndl and aim for that high C at the end. You won’t regret it. (Even though the neighbours might.)

La Vie Bohème (Parts A and B), Rent

This song is a celebration of the colourful and creative lives of artists, and those on the edges of mainstream society. Despite the fact that it essentially consists of a collection of lists (featuring everything from huevos rancheros to Stephen Sondheim) it’s got a killer piano riff that starts off slow, before building to an ecstatic finish that will have you dancing on the table and shouting joyfully at the world.

Anything Goes, Anything Goes 

This musical is coming up to 100 years old but the title number (all about things going topsy turvy) remains one of the best big band show tunes and one of the best musical tap numbers of all time. The moment when the chorus come back in after the dance break with the final, rousing “The world has gone mad today” in five-part harmony deserves a round of applause in itself. Time to knock out a time-step and join in.

 

You Can’t Stop the Beat, Hairspray

This song is simply impossible to resist. It’s about the unstoppable forces of nature, social change and music, and also how no one can resist a boogie. It’s scientifically impossible to listen to the first five seconds without knocking out a cheeky step-together-step-tap. (We’ve tried.) It’s a song and dance marathon with loads of verses (Motormouth Maybelle’s wins hands down), so if you sing along you’ll be exhausted by the end. There’s a rumour that the original company referred to it as You Can’t Catch Your Breath…we totally get it.

Oklahoma, Oklahoma! 

An oldie but a goodie. The final number of this Rodgers and Hammerstein classic is everything you want in a big chorus number. It’s got the kind of expansive, filmic sound you don’t often find these days and if it doesn’t give you goosebumps and make you want to shout “Yeow!” at the end, well, you really need to listen again.

Tomorrow is a Latter Day, The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon is FULL of joyful numbers but we think this one comes out on top, because no one can get to the end of it without laughing, smiling or crying–potentially all at the same time. It’s got it all: life-affirming, seize-the-moment lyrics, reprises of other numbers threaded through and the kind of acapella gospel moment that you never knew you needed. Ears be warned, explicit content within.

To listen to the full selection (plus extra suggestions), check out our official playlist.

LMTO Guide: Using an iPad/Tablet for Sheet Music

Full disclosure: LMTO is not affiliated with any of the products listed in this blog

As the world becomes increasingly paperless, musicians are moving their sheet music to digital form. Here’s LMTO’s guide to using a tablet for reading sheet music.

Equipment

iPad

We recommend an iPad over other tablets. It’s the industry standard, and you’ll find the software available for iPad over other tablets is superior.

In general bigger is better, but you don’t need huge processing power or storage.

  • 12.9” screen is best for two-stave instruments (eg piano/harp), 9.7” minimum for single-stave instruments, and ideal for singers.
  • 32GB is more than enough storage.
  • Second hand is fine. Any iPad made since 2016 which is compatible with Apple Pencil will be good enough to use.
Other Hardware
  • Apple Pencil. Essential tool for marking up scores quickly.
  • Page turn pedal. Recommended tool for easy page turns, even without bars rest. Recommended option is this one.
Software

Forscore – industry leader.
• Do not use iBooks, PDFReader or similar. Forscore is optimised for sheet music and will not fail you.

iPad Settings

• Do Not Disturb (avoids embarrassing messages flashing up on the screen)
• Silent Mode (avoids embarrassing sound alerts in the quiet bit in Music of the Night)

Forscore Settings

These are suggestions built up over ten years of use, but the user may wish to tailor them to their own preferences.

Settings are found in the Forscore menu, top right of the menu bar.

Navigation

Up next

OFF. Not a useful feature, can be annoying,

Gestures

• Swipe controls OFF – prevents a tap on the right turning into a swipe *to* the right
• Tap controls ON
• Double-tap TOGGLE NAVIGATION BAR – prevents a single middle tap causing trouble
• 2-finger tap OFF – clumsy page turns begone
• 3-finger tap LINKS – best feature immediately accessible
• Tap and hold ANNOTATE
• Tap and hold with 2 fingers BUTTONS
• Tap and hold with 3 fingers LINKS – best feature accessible however you use 3 fingers

Page transitions

CURL. We sat with OFF for a few months, but found you need to see that a page has definitely turned, and curl is the least intrusive.

Flip between scores

SETLIST. ALL is really annoying because you feel you never get to the end of a piece. OFF is hopeless because the joy of setlists is that they flip between scores.

Appearance and Metadata

Leave all as default.

Annotation

Apple Pencil

• Automatically enter annotation mode ON
• Automatically exit annotation mode LONG or NEVER – we keep trying SHORT because it’s quicker, but it’s a fraction too short for our style. LONG can be frustrating to have to wait to turn pages, so most users end up at NEVER.
• Prevent finger drawing OFF – if your Pencil runs out of juice you’ll want your finger
• Variable Width settings all ON

Annotation Tools

• Set your default to be an actual tool (we recommend a dark grey pen medium thickness) as opposed to NONE

All other settings can be left as the default.

Forscore Setup

Some Useful Annotation Setup Suggestions

Enter annotation mode (1 finger tap and hold anywhere on the page) and create the follow useful preset drawing tools:

• Dark grey pen medium thickness which looks most like a pencil colour (we set this as default)
• Black pen very thin for writing small instructions
• Red/orange pen medium thickness for pointing out really important bits
• White max thickness for covering up any printed material you want to hide (NB not the same as eraser!)

Stamps

Stamps is the top left annotation tool and you should create your own stamps which you might use often. Useful examples:

  • page turn symbol
  • patch change symbol
Shapes

Shapes is the second from left annotation tool, the most useful of which we’ve found to be the white box for quick ‘erasing’ of large sections of music for cuts.

Usage

What follows are highlights of the very best features/use cases. This section is best practised before a rehearsal/gig.

Links

3-finger tap. These allow you to navigate repeats or cuts really easily. Tap the left hand page for where the bit of music ends, tap the right hand page for where you want it to jump to.

Bookmarks

Found in the main menu top left. Let’s say you have a single PDF containing multiple songs. Using bookmarks, you can say that pages 1-7 are called “Song 1”, pages 7-9 are called “Song 2” etc. Those bookmarks are then listed when you search for songs – so you can then use them in setlists.

MD usage: within PVs, bookmark each song. Means that you can find Defying Gravity or Bring Him Home quickly at those impromptu sing-a-longs.

Setlists

Found in the main menu top left. Put all the charts for a single gig into one setlist, and they flow neatly from one to the other. Particularly powerful when combined with bookmarks.

Crop

2-finger tap and hold. Page not filling the screen properly? This will sort you out.

Dropbox/File Integration

Use the menu to download files direct from your Dropbox or any other cloud provider (once you’ve signed in).

Mark up and send

Want to mark up a score and send to a colleague? Mark it up on Forscore, then go to the menu, click share and Annotated PDF. Or – if they’re on Forscore, send as 4SC – it keeps all of the links and the annotations can then be edited.

Annotation Tips

Pretend it’s paper. Don’t think of it as a screen. Because of the wrist rejection algorithm, you can lean on the screen with your wrist/hand just as you would a piece of paper.

MD usage: when working on a new show and you need to keep track of notes, change the default drawing tool colour each day. Means that when typing up at the end of each day you can just look for eg the blue pen. Likewise if you’re making notes across a week’s worth of shows, colour code each show-watch so you can be show-specific with your notes.

Layers

MD usage: Let’s say you use the same chart but with different cuts/articulations for different gigs. This is where layers come in. Once in Annotation Mode, top right is the layers button. You can create a new layer for each version of the chart you need, and then turn each layer on and off as you desire.

Rearrange

Copyist miss out a page of your chart, or need to rotate a page? Rearrange is here for you. Access via the top right menu. You can add other PDFs into your current PDF using the ‘+’ at the bottom, you can reorder pages by clicking and dragging, and you can rotate pages using the arrows bottom left of the screen.

The Night Before Usage

Download all charts and import into Forscore.

Put iPad on charge overnight. Unplug when you wake up, plug in Apple Pencil while you’re having breakfast.

Always bring a charger!
Always bring a charger!

and

Always bring a charger!

Last Word

Whenever you use an iPad for LMTO, we will always have a spare on hand, but in five years of use across hundreds of users and iPads, we have never once experienced an issue with using the combination of settings above. Freddie, our conductor, even uses it to conduct from for any scores which print to B4 or smaller.

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