Marching Band eFlip

Freshman Sarah Wood uses an eFlip mount Aug. 29 to read music from her phone during practice.

The Razorback Marching Band is ditching paper sheet music to save money and increase sustainability this year.

Both sheet music and marching drill, which displays musicians’ assigned positions on the field in each formation, have been transferred to downloadable files that are compatible with smartphones and tablet devices. This switch will eliminate the use of 18,000 sheets of paper this year, according to a press release.

Jamal Duncan, the assistant director of university bands, said students have been receptive to the change.

“The ability to have music and drill in an electronic format means more information at our students’ fingertips,” Duncan said. 

Students are responsible for providing their own smart device to support the new software.

“We know that sometimes technology fails,” Duncan said. “If a student ever finds themselves without their phone, they can revert to paper.”

Razorback Band Director Benjamin Lorenzo thinks the campaign benefits the program threefold, he said. It makes the learning process more efficient, saves money and positively impacts the environment.

"It is important that we stay on the forefront of these advances to continue to be the best we can be, on and off the field,” Lorenzo said.

Sophomore Bailey Ross, the alto saxophone section leader for the 2019-20 season, likes to see the program taking steps toward becoming more sustainable, she said. 

“We’re all about going green,” Ross said.

Marching Band officials will use eFlip, a collection of mounts that fix students’ smart devices to their respective instruments. The product was created at Louisiana State University in 2014 and retails for $25 or more per mount online, but Razorback Marching Band personnel were able to buy in bulk for as low as $20 per mount, Duncan said. Every band member is guaranteed an eFlip.

Duncan expects a $10,000 decrease in spending by next year. The eFlips will last several years, Duncan said.

“Everything is significantly easier with the eFlip,” Ross said. “With traditional sheet music, if the wind breaks or [the stand] flips over, you’re dead for that piece. With the eFlip, you can switch pieces in one click and if you can’t read it, you can zoom in. You can’t zoom in on regular sheet music.”

The paperless music also increases productivity, Ross said.

“It is so easy to go through music as a section leader,” Ross said. “We can all read the parts and rehearse more quickly.”

Duncan looks forward to seeing how the program will evolve from this year onward, he said.

“Moving away from paper was a pretty big step for us,” Duncan said. “We’re going to enjoy taking some time to see where this paperless journey takes us while we continue to look for the next innovation.”

Elias Weiss is the opinion editor for the Arkansas Traveler, where he worked as a reporter and columnist from 2018-2019. Elias graduated with an AA degree in journalism from Central Piedmont Community College in 2018.

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