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19 July 2017

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How to turn pages - WITHOUT throwing your music on the floor.

How does one turn that page without running the serious risk of the music ending up on the floor?

We've all been there - either a long piece with multiple pages or even a shorter piece with bad editing so that the page turn arrives at the most inconvenient moment. How does one turn that page without running the serious risk of the music ending up on the floor? 

Page Turner

This is quite a luxury for some and you need to find a good one. Someone who instinctively knows when is the best moment to turn the page and also won't get in your way. Here's a little know fact. In ABRSM exams, although candidates are not allowed to bring a page turner into the exam, the accompanist of a grade 8 or ARSM exam MAY do so.


Generally, the photocopying of music is illegal, but in certain situations it is permitted. Obviously, in your own home, copying a sheet of music that you have already purchased to help with page turns, isn't going to be problem, but what about in an exam situation? The ABRSM's official line is;
  • The making or use of photocopies of copyright works is not permitted. Application should be made to the copyright holder before any copy is made. It is the Applicant’s responsibility to ensure that candidates act within the law with respect to the making and use of photocopies. ABRSM reserves the right to withhold the exam result of any candidate where it has evidence of the use of an illegal copy in connection with that exam.
This all seems a bit of a hassle, writing for special permission to copy one sheet for a page turn.


If you can do it, this is the ultimate solution and in many ways better for the music itself. I personally performed all my exams from memory, it helped to get more involved with the music rather than be distracted by the notes. If memorizing a whole piece is too challenging, I have a few students now, who memorize just the first or last page of a three page piece. You could even just memorize a few bars and turn the page at a more convenient moment.

Dog-Eared Pages

This is quite an effective method and I use it all the time when accompanying for exams where I haven't had the time to memorize the piece. Also many of the videos I have put on YouTube of exam pieces use dog-eared pages. You need to be careful though, to remember to re-fold the corner of each page everytime before a performance, as a flat dog-ear isn't as easy to get hold of. Another variation I have heard of is using mini post-it notes on the bottom corner of each page, but these need to be staggered if you have more than one turn, otherwise you might end up grabbing two at a time.

Cutting your music

It sounds like sacrilege, but another alternative is cutting your music. This works best for instrumental music with accompaniment, where they may be a few bars rest here and there. You could cut just under where there are a few bars rest, or in more continuous music, where there are a few beats rest, so that you could turn just half the page at this moment. Hopefully, if the edition lends itself, you will have an opportunity in the top of the next page to turn over the bottom half of the previous. (I hope that made sense)


More recently music has been available in digital form where you can store entire an library on your ipad for example. With this it is easier to swipe a single page without the risk of picking up two pages at a time, or worse still throwing your music on the floor. Further still there are now hands free devices like "Blue Turn" which connect to your tablet through bluetooth. 

 IK Multimedia iRig BlueTurn Bluetooth Page Turner for iOS and Android

BlueTurn Bluetooth Page Turner for iOS and Android

Let me know in the comments below - what methods you have used or if you have any horror stories of page turn fails.

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