On Saturday a debate erupted amongst fellow Central New York musicians about whether using iPads onstage detracted from performing or if it was a necessary performance tool. This hit a nerve because while most online threads die in a day, this discussion is still going on right now with 180+ comments. While the opinions that are flying around are about as eclectic as the musicains that are uttering them, basically most land in one of two camps.

On the one hand it is felt by non-iPad musicians that if you're concentrating on or even referencing chord changes, lyrics or anything else while playing out that you're no longer performing and are essentially being lazy, rehearsing in public while being paid to do so.

For the iPad users, they take a 'to each his own' approach and defend it's use by citing an inability to remember their extensive song catalogs or failing memory in old age, or a desire to do all they can to ensure that the gig goes smoothly, even if they have to read a chart to satisfy an on-the-fly song request, or if they were called to sit-in on an unfamiliar gig last minute and didn't have time to woodshed adequately for the show.

Pleased male musician waiting for tips after play

Both sides also referenced professional musical acts that either use teleprompters or don't to support their arguments and suffice it to say, the defenses for and against were both plentiful and heated. As a musician who would prefer not to be chained to an iPad but uses one anyway, I can see the point on both sides. This seems more grey to me than black and white and I prefer to just think about what I'm doing without criticizing the approaches of others too much. We all come from differing backgrounds and have differing abilities, so until I've walked a mile in another musician's individual shoes, I can't rightly criticize them.


However, I'm curious what the average music consumer thinks? When you go to a show, would you respect the performer more if they delivered your experience more organically sans-iPad or teleprompter or do you want them to use whatever technology they can to make sure they satisfy your investment  (of time or money) in them? Or, are we all just a little too uptight about this and you just like a nice musical backdrop while you're out to eat, drink and socialize?

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