Exciting News – Notion Music Notation App is bumped up to Version 5!

notion 5PreSonus has been busy, busy, busy! Not only did they release a new DAW for iPad called Capture Small Icon Presonus Capture, to use in conjunction with StudioOne but now Notion for the desktop has been updated to version 5!

Notion is PreSonus’s notation app that is truly cross platform – they have a version for Mac, Windows and iPad! Notion is probably your best choice for an all around music notation program because of that reason along with a few other details. Finale and Sibelius both have apps for the iPad that allow you to view notation files on the iPad but those iPad apps do not allow you to create and edit those notation files. IF you have Sibelius or Finale you should absolutely own those iPad apps though! For Sibelius users you should download Avid Scorch Small IconScorch. Finale users should download Finale SongBook Small IconFinale SongBook. They are both free and add an amazing level of access to those music notation files on your iPad!

Back to Notion V5….

You can go visit the Notion website to read everything but let me tell you why I believe this is a huge move for PreSonus/Notion. One of the new capabilities in Notion is that is is gaining some of the functionalities of StudioOne along with the look of StudioOne. What does that mean? That means that this nice notation app is gaining full-fledged DAW capabilities! New mixer, new plug-inslike Compressor/Limiter/EQ and by using Re-Wire you can even run a music notation file in Notion right alongside a recording project in StudioOne!

Do not underestimate the importance of this integration!

Another item that caught my eye is that Notion allows you to perform you Notion files live – adjusting tempo and volume to stay with the live performance simply by tapping along on a MIDI keyboard. PLUS Notion allows you to import audio files as a part of the project too! Of course one of the big new features is the ability to work with movies now. Sibelius of course has been able to work with video for quite a while now.

The price of Notion has gone up to $150, it used to be $100. If you have version’s 3 or 4 you can upgrade for $50. Now that $150 is the FULL price not an upgrade!

Compare that to the cost of Sibelius full price being $599 with upgrades costing from $50-$100 depending on which version you are running.

Compared to the cost of Finale full price being $600 with an upgrade costing you $140.

Just which version do you think students are going to be able to afford? Now, to be fair Finale does offer several slimed down versions of Final for $50-$120 and Sibelius offers a slimmed down version for $120. Both of those apps also offer educational pricing too.

Confused yet?

One more reason to like Notion – simple and straightforward and affordable!

These apps are going to cost you some hard drive space on your computer!

Notion – around 8GB
Sibelius – around 36GB
Finale – around 2.5GB

CHOICES: There used to be two main choices for music notation – Sibelius or Finale. Now we have a bunch of options! Some apps run on desktop as well as on iPad. Then we have some other options that are iPad only now. Here’s the run-down.
Notion – Desktop and Notion Small IconiPad version – $
Sibelius – Desktop version with Avid Scorch Small IconScorch (an iPad viewer) – $$
Finale – Desktop version with Finale SongBook Small IconFinale SongBook (an iPad viewer) – $$$
NoteFlight – works on desktop or iPad through a web browser – FREE!
MuseScore – Desktop version (FREE) with an iPad viewer $

SymphonyPro Small IconSymphonyPro – iPad app $
Tabular iOS Small IconTabular – iPad app $
NotateMe Icon SmallNotateMe – iPad app $ (Handwritten music PLUS amazing music scanning plugin – $)
SmartScore NoteReader – iPad app music scanning app (read about it here on Chris Russell’s website - http://techinmusiced.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/smartscore-notereader-is-available-how-does-it-compare/
Sonja Small IconSonja – iPad app free


If you only own an iPad and want a music notation app – Get Notion IF YOU HAVE SPACE – or SymphonyPro. You can NOT go wrong with either app!

If you want a great music notation app and you own an iPad plus you want to be able to work on notation files from the laptop as well as the iPad…. get Notion.

If you already own Sibelius and are as worried as I am about the future of Sibelius… (Heck, I haven’t even upgraded to version 7 yet let alone 7.5!) Notion is still going to be a great addition to having Sibelius. Especially since all three apps are Music XML compatible so you can transfer files back and forth easily!

Finale users are not worried a bit about the future of Sibelius but again Notion just might be a nice addition, especially the iPad version of Notion!

The Future of Learning To Play

capo3-logo-headerWell, I wrote about the future having arrived a few days ago when I wrote about NotateMe. I wasn’t kidding either and apparently a LOT of other people were very intrigued as well! Thanks for reading that post about the transformation from NEEDING a computer to being able to work ONLY with a mobile device in music.

Now let’s talk about the future of LEARNING how to play a piece of music. For thousands of years people have relied on learning how to play music by listening to it – they repeated sections of the piece over and over, repeating what someone played for them. Simple call and response, over and over. When learning someone else’s music this tradition has not died even now.

Now though, it is going to be a whole lot easier! If you have EVER worked on figuring out a song by ear you know how many hours it takes us! (OK, well at least me a few thousand others who are not blessed with the ability to play anything we hear by hear!) This app is going to save you hours!

Capo3 Small IconCapo has been out for a while now on a normal computer and is now up to version 3! Now Capo Touch Small IconCapo Touch available for those using iOS mobile devices!

In fact currently both the desktop version and the mobile versions are on 50% sale! So the time to buy them is now!

Capo3 Small IconCapo3 for the Mac – $14.99 (50% off normal price)

Capo Touch Small IconCapo Touch for iOS – $4.99 (505 of what the normal price will be soon!) [runs on both iPhone and iPad]

Let’s talk about what Capo is since most of us don’t know….


  • Automatic Chord detection – it will TELL you the chords for any song in your iTunes library! Doc Brown would have hated us having this tool available back when we were taking Ear Training and Music Theory back in college!
  • Slows Your Music – High quality time stretching engine that will slow that music down to a learnable pace!
  • Looping Regions – Play it again Sam! Over and over, slower if you like, until you get it!
  • Transposition – Now we can instantly change the key of the song!
  • Chord Boxes – For those of you who are guitar players (or teach guitarists) Capo will show you how to play those chords it has automatically detected AND if you transpose the song it transposes those chord boxes too!
  • Capo and Tuning Options – yup got those covered too for all you guitar players
  • Metronome, Count-Off, and Effects – Not sure where that beat is? Well turn the metronome on silly!
  • Beautiful Interface – Gives you a great experience browsing you music library to pick that next song to learn.
  • iCloud Syncing – Work on you iPhone while out and about and then when you pull out your iPad later everything will be in sync. Of course, since Capo is also available on a normal computer it syncs there as well!

There is at least one difference between the desktop version of Capo and the mobile. On the desktop version you are able to actually draw in notes on top of the spectrograph, just like you would in a piano roll on a MIDI sequencer. Then, after drawing those notes out, you will actually get TABS so that you can learn the part on your guitar.


I am impressed at all of the pro musicians they have who are backing this app too! Go ahead, click that picture below and read everything they are saying about it! Pretty cool. These are not just some ol’ teacher like me – these are people getting paid good money for the music they make!




Capo Pros Shot


The app currently has tabs, chords, and chord diagrams for guitarists. Which is awesome but I would love to see the ability to have music notation instead of tabs! Even if I could export what I have done in Capo as an XML file to use in Sibelius or another notation app it would be awesome. I currently am using Capo2 and the export function does not work very well – OK, actually I could never get it to do anything – UNTIL I imported the MIDI file into Sibelius. Once it imported into Sibelius I was able to see the notes I had drawn in. Of course it was not performance ready but it would give us non-guitar players something to look at that would be better than tabs. Now, if it would just export the chords as well!

Maybe the export functions are better in Capo3? If someone has v3 and could let me know it would be awesome!

If you are ever in need of an app to help you figure out how to play a song that you do not already have music for this is it!

In fact, this answers one of my issues I have with my own music – I play and record then I forget what I played and recorded! This app helps me solve that issue! Usually, I am composing in a DAW, like Cubasis or Logic and using audio recordings. Before this app there was no way for me to turn that audio back into any sort of notation to help me remember what in the world I played! Now, problem solved!

If you are a teacher, a performer, or an amateur musician, you would be crazy not to grab at least one of these if not both of them!

Capo3 Small IconCapo3 for the Mac - $14.99 (50% off normal price)

Capo Touch Small IconCapo Touch for iOS - $4.99 (505 of what the normal price will be soon!)



Remember - if you are inspired to purchase apps because of my blog, please click on my links and help give back to my efforts here. Each link is an affiliate link and gives me a small percentage of Apple’s profit on each app. The developer still gets their full profit.

NotateMe and PhotoScore IAP (compatibility notes too)

So I can say that the full version of the PhotoScore IAP for NotateMe works pretty well!

notatemelogoI worked on a score with 8 staves on it that was printed pretty small. Each 8.5 x 11 page had a top and a bottom to it with a total of 9 pages. When I used PhotoScore I took a picture of the top set of 8 staves and then I tapped the continue option to then take a picture of the bottom set of 8 staves. So in effect I had 18 pages to the score when I got done.

In all of that there were three major errors -

1)On one page one measure got really messed up! I’m not sure, but I wonder if I cut off a bar line or something when I was taking pictures. No way of telling now though.

2)Four of the staves where Bb Instruments and then I had a Piano, Bass and Drums. The transposition here is really messing with me. I will have to play with it more to see how to make it work right. The Piano and Bass ended up in the wrong key though. So I ended up fixing that in Sibelius.

3)The Drum part used note heads that are X’s to indicate hi-hat and ride. PhotoScore does not bring those in as X note heads but it DOES bring them in as regular note heads. When there were 2 of these cymbals parts stacked on top of each other it just didn’t recognize what was going on though. The drum part did have a bunch of measures that came through really weird and so again I fixed this in Sibelius.

Minor errors – The scanning process missed a couple of accidentals in the piano part too.

The chords in the piano part all were recognized and pulled over into Sibelius just fine!

It took me about an hour total to end up with a recording exported out of Sibelius for my students to refer to and rehearse with! That is way less time then in the past when I had to either input the notes by hand or play them all in using my keyboard. This is a WIN!

I think that with a larger score like this it may just be easier to export the XML file into Sibelius or Finale and do the editing on a bigger screen. When I was working with just one part at a time I did not mind doing the editing on the iPad but this was too much I feel.


A few people have asked great questions that I should have pointed out a few days ago… Yes, NotateMe will export XML files that will work in Sibelius, Notion, or Finale. (it also exports MIDI for that matter and even PDF files too).

NotateMe -

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 1.28.28 AM

NotateMe Now -

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 1.30.26 AM Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 1.30.33 AM

The fact that this technology is even possible on ANY iPad or iPhone astounds me! The fact that it requires the better camera does NOT surprise me at all!

What does this mean for schools and students with older devices? Well, the handwriting part of these apps still give us an amazing composition tool to use in class and NotateME Now is FREE!

Those with the older devices will update soon enough and more and more students will have access to even the PhotoScore IAP!

That simply underlines what I have said all along – make sure you know what you want to do with devices like an iPad in your classroom BEFORE you make your purchase. Plan for the future too! You know that tech and app capabilities are going to march onward and demand more power, better camera quality and more storage so go as for as big a device as you can possibly get.

If you are a teacher then the 64GB iPad is what you should be looking at and I can NOT think of a reason to not get the iPad Air. Yes, it’s a few more dollars but it will be worth it as you will be using this deice for the next 3-5 years or longer. If you are not using it then you will have upgraded to the next latest and greatest and someone else WILL be using that iPad Air!

Android users rejoice – this app is one of the few music apps for Android! You are not left out in the cold this time so go support Neuratron for their great efforts!

NotateMe and DrumLine – Percussion Parts

NotateMe Now does NOT scan in the Snare Drum parts that are on a single line staff. NOTE – The full version of NotateMe with the PhotoScore IAP will work only on 5 line staffs as well. Thanks Neuratron for a speedy answer to that question.

NotateMe Now DOES handle the Quad and Bass Drum parts very well. EXCEPT it does NOT pickup on 1 measure and 2 measure repeats like you so often find in percussion parts. So I had to keep adding in extra measures in Sibelius and used my hand-dandy-nifty shortcut that I had set up to create those repeat markings. By using the shortcuts it was fast to fix and add those extra measure.

I always kind of hate doing percussion parts by hand because it takes so long… not anymore! :)

Scanning Music With your iPad – OCR on Music Notation! (For FREE! – almost)


All I can say is “Wow!”

Let me say that one more time, “WOW!!!”

Neuratron has really done it this time! First thing they did was to bring a handwriting app to market that we never hardly believed could happen! In fact, they did THAT in total “Apple style” – I don’t think ANYONE even mentioned it before that app just “showed up”! That app is called NotateMe Now (for the free but limited to one line of music version) or if you want the full version then the app is called NotateMe ($39.99 and worth every penny of it too!)

I will say that there WAS one company that had put together a very slick looking video with the concept of having an app that would actually allow us to handwrite music on our iPads. That video was THE hot topic for awhile – let’s see now… what was the name of that company again? Ah, never mind – it never came to be from them.

Now, Neuratron has done it all again! They released a plugin to NotateMe Icon SmallNotateMe that allows you to take a picture of printed sheet music and it will then take that picture, perform magic spells on it and then turns it into a computer notated file! (OK…. it’s not really magic spells but it seems like it!) That plugin is called PhotoScore.

Let me give you a visual…. (Clicking on any of the pictures in this blog post will give you another larger version that is easier to see.)

You take Sheet Music



Take a Picture of it (I only used the free, one stave, version app – NotateMe Now. I have NOT tried the paid $29.99 In-App-Purchase – which I assume will work even better PLUS will do music with more than one stave in it!)



and you end up with this…



Now, to be fair there were just a couple of steps in between taking a picture and ending up with the Sibelius file but NOT MANY! What you will find that actually happens immediately after taking the picture in NotateMe is the app will scan the page and recognize the staves then recognize then notes. You get to watch as it does all that – it’s FAST! Then you will have this on your iPad…



Now, I made that a bigger picture so that you could really see how accurate this app is! Above you see what NotateMe scans the picture you took as and to compare, below you can see a jpg of the actual sheet music…



As you can see there were not MANY missed notes in the recognition! AMAZING! LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT! This scan has the most amount of errors that I have gotten so far. I’ve done quite a few and usually there is only one or two missed items. In this scan you can see that there are some dotted 8th-16th note rhythms that the scanning process missed along with a couple of ties.

Here is a link to a video which shows you how awesome NotateMe Now is at this whole process!  In the video you can see how crazy easy it is to edit the errors in the piece from above – it took me just 3 minutes. Most of that was simply looking back and forth to make sure the app didn’t miss anything.

Below I take you through a few  steps working with the NotateMe Now app, Notion for iPad and Sibelius on a laptop to get to a final product.
In the process of scanning some music with a lot of articulations in it I found that the app is not perfect on picking up all the articulations – it does pick up some of them but the Tenuto markings especially it has issues with. The D.S. and Coda text it did not pick up but it DID read the Gradually Softer marking. NotateMe does not read multi-rests either. So I had a few things to clean up but not much at all (In fact, I have used the laptop version of their app, PhotoScore, for years and I can say that this iPad version is BETTER!)

So here are the steps I took to clean things up…. I COULD HAVE emailed myself an XML right from NotateMe Now and imported it into Sibelius on my laptop BUT this is about exploring the capabilities of what my iPad can do. So, I choose to use Notion for the iPad. Let me show you what I did….

Re-named the Part (This seemed to help later with transposing instruments especially!


Exported the XML


Opened it in Notion


Found the correct file (I did not think this worked the first time. I expected Notion to actually pop open the file and it does NOT do that. It puts the file in the list and you have to open it yourself.


Added extra measures because of the multi-rests


Inserted the actual rests



I then edited all the articulations in Notion – I feel like it is faster on the iPad then in Sibelius (and I’ve been working with Sibelius a really long time – I even have shortcut set up to speed up the process. I just feel like it is way easier to tap the note, tap the articulation – done.) Don’t forget -  when there are multiple notes in a row that need the same marking you get them all at once!


Moved the dynamics and edited them (I’m not sure if NotateMe or Notion was putting the dynamics ABOVE the music but it was getting messed up!) There was one spot I could not squeeze in a crescendo either…



Then I finally sent the XML file over to the laptop to import into Sibelius (I really just did not feel like trying to figure out how to put all the single parts – flute, clarinet, sax, trumpet etc…. into one big score using Notion – That’s another day!)


Once in Sibelius I only had a couple of things to do – I had to work out the transposition. This was tricky…. I’m still not sure if this is me or the apps. Sometimes things worked out fine – other times I had to use the up and down keys to get the notes in the right spot. I’ll explore this issue more and write another post about it.

HINT – The one thing I DID figure out is that I needed to have the correct name for the instrument right from the get go – that’s why I renamed the part in NotateME!

So what did I have to do in Sibelius? I moved the dynamics into the correct spot BELOW the music and  I reset my beam groups – you can see in the pics below that for some reason those 8th notes got really messed up some place in all the transferring between NotateMe, Notion, XML, and then Sibelius. A couple of clicks though and it was done.


Resetting the Beam Groups in Sibelius


Moving the Dynamics to below the staf


Added the crescendo between the FP and FF that Notion would not allow me to.

I’m not done with all the parts yet – I was to excited about how well this worked! I had to share with all of you!
NotateMe Final


Why even bother with this process? Imagine being able to give a student an assignment to learn a piece of music. Now, with this technology, if they have questions about how the music is to sound they can scan it and end up being able to hear the rhythms and pitch!

How about if a student wanted to write out a duet part? Well now that process is going to be much faster – they scan the first part, add a second part, copy the easy sections where maybe they just need to raise or lower the part a 3rd, add in the other sections where it takes a bit more rewriting and then print! Plus they can listen to it as well!

What if your band has no tuba players? Take the tuba part, scan it, change it to marimba and give your percussion something else to do besides hit each other with their sticks!

The list could go on and on!

The only reason that I actually even used Sibelius at all is because I am still using the free version of NotateMe Now which only scans single stave music. I am currently working on all my marching band music and trying to get it digitized. Of course one reason I am doing that is so that the students can do SmartMusic  testing on our marching show music when we get back to school in the fall. So for every instrument I repeated the above process. Eventually I will end up with all the parts in one Sibelius file, all without hardly ever having to input anything by hand or playing it in with my keyboard.

Let me assure you – this does NOT take as long as it may seem. It takes a few times to get the hang of the process but after doing 3-4 you will be much faster at it all. In the time it took you to read this blog post I probably worked through two more parts.

For this entire Blog Post whenever I referred to NotateMe and PhotoScore, I used the free version of NotateMe Now which gives you the ability to work with a single staff for FREE! So you get the ability to handwrite music on a single staff for free AND the PhotoScore capabilities for single staff music for FREE too! Good enough for music students to make great use of in class and in lessons.

The full version of NotateMe Icon SmallNotateMe is $39.99 - Yup, I know, someone just choked on their gum. For an iPad app it seems expensive. For what it does it is not! The In-App-Purchase to get the PhotoScore Plugin is another $29.99 – Let me put this in comparison for you though – The actual computer app that does the SAME thing is $249! Plus, I’m telling you, the iPad version is BETTER!

Don’t believe me about how awesome this all is? Go get the free version – NotateMe Icon SmallNotateMe Now

Also, please make sure that you read about which devices are supported, especially for the PhotoScore app. This technology astounds me that it is even possible on a mobile device! It should not astound anyone that PhotoScore requires a camera that is of higher quality which means the iPodTouch 4th gen, iPad2 and iPadMini 1st gen are left of of the loop for PhotoScore. I mean, come on people, this is replacing a scanner for goodness sakes!

Using Notion Small IconNotion’s iPad app ($15.99) to edit the files was a joy! This app is not for those of you with only a 16GB iPad though – Notion by itself takes like 2GB! That’s because of the awesome sampled musicians from the London Symphony Orchestra that is crammed inside of you iPad when you purchase Notion.

HINT – If you are a saxophone person you will have to spring for the $1.99 in-app-purchase to get that Alto Sax sound! Same for the Tenor and same for the Bari Sax. You will get a great basic set of sounds with your original purchase of Notion but for some STUPID REASON they don’t include saxophones in that set! I HOPE NOTION IS READING THIS AND CHANGES THAT DECISION! Or should I just talk to PreSonus?

SymphonyProV3SymphonyPro - ($9.99) would work just as well and doesn’t take up as much space on your iPad. Of course the London Symphony doesn’t come with SymphonyPro either


HELP SUPPORT THIS BLOG PLEASE! All the links from my blog posts are affiliate links. What that means is that if you decide to purchase one of these apps by clicking on the links I’ve provided then I get a small percentage of the sale. The developer’s get their portion still but I get a small (very small) portion of Apple’s profit. If you appreciate the tips and ideas I share with you and you decide to purchase the apps mentioned anywhere on my blog it helps me to keep going. Thanks for considering the possibility of clicking my link first then purchasing the app from the store.





Want an app to help make reading Sheet Music easier?

Notezilla logoNotezilla – (READ TO THE END FOR UPCOMING FEATURES!)

We provide high quality, interactive sheet music – synced to real recordings.

There it is, the simple idea behind this music app.

The short version of this post is that Notezilla provides a way for us to see beautifully rendered sheet music and at the same time listen to a high quality recording of that music performed by actual musicians. There are a few nifty tools to help us study that sheet music while being able to listen to it.

Let’s see why we need an app like this…

FACTS: we can currently…

  1. LISTEN to RECORDED MUSIC – We already have an amazing amount of recorded music to listen to at our fingertips from top notch, quality performing groups – I have fallen in love with Spotify for this!
  2. SEE SHEET MUSIC – Apps like ForScore, UnRealBook and GigBook allow us to have sheet music on our iPads to perform from.
  3. MANIPULATE and CREATE SHEET MUSIC – We already have some amazing music notation apps like Finale, Sibelius, Notion, SymphonyPro and NoteFlight, to produce and manipulate that sheet music.
  4. LISTEN to and SEE – All of the music notation apps allow us to listen to our pieces of music in one way or another. Notion even allows us to take our music scores we have entered into out devices and listen to them using samples from actual musicians but it is still not the same as an actual ensemble performing that piece of music.


  1. If we are listening to actual, live, performers then the sheet music is pretty static. For instance – ForScore allows me to have the sheet music on my iPad and then link a recording from my iPad iTunes library to that PDF. So now I am looking at the music and I hear a great recording but the two are not linked. Hope you can read the sheet music!
  2. I can use SymphonyPro or Noteflight on my iPad to see sheet music, push the play button and have the sheet music follow along with a recording. What I will hear is actually pretty impressive but it is not the same as an actual performer.
  3. Notion actually uses samples of real performers for their app – this is a huge improvement over the past and gets us closer but again it is not the same as an actual performer.


Now we have a new option on the scene. We now have an app that allows us to see sheet music that is synced to a recording of an actual performing group, performing that piece of music! On June 13, 2014 an iPad app called Notezilla was released on the app store to help out! Here is a short section from their web site;

“Notezilla is the first tool out there that successfully brings high quality audio and sheet music together. Our sheet music is synced to real recordings, so users can listen to the recording of a piece while easily studying the underlying sheet music.

This makes for a very interactive experience and can provide a level of understanding previously only available to advanced musicians.”

Wait a minute…. I know, I know…. some of you are already firing up your comments below and typing in one word – SMARTMUSIC. Yup, you know and I know that Notezilla may not be the “first” to do this. Jump to the end to find out what I think about the two apps compared to each other.


Erik and Chris, both musicians, simply wanted a way to make reading sheet music easier. That desire produced Notezilla – first released in the fall of 2013 for the web and then as an iPad app in June of 2014.

What is there currently is pretty straightforward with a couple of pleasant surprises. Take a look at this explanation…

  • Play back buttons – Controls to hide groups of instruments (only on the web currently) – Bookmarks – Zoom – Speed Control

Notezilla Mozart_-_Die_Zauberflöte

It’s simple, straightforwards and easy. It works too! Hit the playback button and that big red line follows the recording and the music scrolls along in realtime. What an amazing listening too in music classes! On the web version you get the ability to hide certain instruments (This ability is coming to the iPad soon!). There is the option to go fullscreen and zoom in or out of the music.

On the web version of the app there is also the ability to create bookmarks. This would allow you to create a way to quickly load up a piece of music right to the specific spot you needed for class. In fact you can even embed these bookmarks into a webpage. Here try it out – Handel’s Messiah at Measure 12

Then there is also the ability to speed up or slow down the music. This of course also slows down the recording, obviously as one of the points of this is to see  the music and hear the music at the same time! You have the option to go in 24% increments. The pitch of the audio stays in the correct key while doing this. Now we can all learn to play Flight of the Bumble Bee at a non-ridiculous speed!


The website/app as is works exactly like it says and it works very well! So what’s the issue?

  1. LIBRARY  - Currently the library of available tunes is small. Chris assures me thought that the goal is to release at least one new piece of music every week. The current library is also focused on public domain pieces, read that as saying – “It’s all classical”. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Vivaldi, Chopin, Pachelbel, Boccherine, Greig and then Steve Goldman.
  2. HOW TO USE IN PERFORMING ENSEMBLES – The limits of the library currently limit the app for Bands and Choirs mostly to a listening tool – a really sweet one! Click on that Handel’s Messiah link above again – there it is, right in the middle of class, the vocals/instruments AND Sheet Music!

If the iPad app is going to be used for performance then we need a few things….

  1. While zooming is amazing on the iPad app, it needs to be able to hide instruments or better yet just have an option to show only one selected instrument.
  2. We have to be able to write annotations on the music – let’s face it, who performs/rehearses WITHOUT doing this? It’s a requirement that my students have a pencil on their music stands at all time!
  3. The iPad app needs to be able to be used in portrait mode as well as landscape. If I have my flute part pulled up in this app I would like the option to have an entire page viewed at once.
  4. Scrolling while playing the piece of music needs to be worked on. Currently it is easy to loose track of where you are if you are trying to perform with this app while it is playing and scrolling the music at the same time.

The amazing part is that all four items mentioned above are being worked on right now! Hopefully by August 1st there will be an update! If you have read my blog for very long you have heard me say this before…. iOS developers are AWESOME! They listen to and seek out people who are interested in actually using their apps and then ask for their opinions/suggestions!

This app isn’t going to give us a way to take OUR music and sync it to OUR recordings.

It is free to explore so go ahead and take a look -There are five pieces of totally free music for you to experience. If you like what you see and hear then for $4.99 you get access to every other piece of music they release. (Oh yeah, remember the mention of SmartMusic above? This is one way Notezilla has a bit of an edge on SmartMusic. A SmartMusic subscription is more then $4.99 and you have to renew every year. Of course SmartMusic offers way more repertoire plus it has the grade book functions that this app does not currently offer.)

Notezilla web address is - http://www.notezilla.io
Notezilla iPad app is here - Notezilla Small IconNotezilla

New Notation App (If you like Tabs) – Tabular Mobile

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Not sure if I missed this because I am not really a guitar and tabs person or if it just needs more publicity but the end of April a new app was released that is pretty awesome!

Chromatic Labs has developed Tabular Mobile: A modern tablature editor for Tabular OSX Small IconMac OSX and Tabular iOS Small IconiPad and I’m here to tell that it works very well, is easy to use and is a great starting point!

I have had to work with guitar players that just do not read music in the past and sometimes it is just easier to give them tabs or sometimes I have a student who is just learning how to play bass guitar that actually reads music who would actually learn faster if they read tabs. I don’t like working with tabs because there is usually no indication of rhythms and that just messes with my brain. I do see the advantage though for some people, some of the time. With THAT being said….

Some how I ran across Tabular tonight. It is a few months old now but I have not seen ANYONE talking about it! Which is disappointing because the iPad version is FREE and the app works very well. There are restrictions, with the most serious issue being that the number of measures you can add is restricted to 100 in the free version. You are also restricted on how many documents, tracks and custom tunings you can add. If those things are going to hold you back then the upgrade is $9.99 which is a fair price for what you can do with this app.

Tabular Bass PartI dug in and started creating a piece, an original composition so be warned! I found it extremely easy to find my way around the app and to start adding music. You really must have a good understanding of the notes on a stringed instrument to use the app though.  Of course if your goal os to transcribe something you can already play then it will not be an issue. The way you add notes is to simply select the length of note value you would like, whole/half/quarter etc… and then to tap on the fretboard. Then you tap the plus button to add another note and repeat the process. The biggest issue I had with the app is that you are allowed to add too many beats in a measure. To be fair though there is an colored indicator  under the measures that do not add up.

Once a measure is complete you tap the right arrow and another measure is created. Pretty simple. There are all sorts of sweet guitar and normal musical symbols/articulations/slides and other things in the menu along the bottom of the screen. I added a bunch and then printed the part out. I was given several options in the share menu…. one was to email, another was to Message and then I could Print. If sharing by email you can send a Tabular file (for working on in the desktop version), a PDF (which I choose), ASCII, or MIDI files. You can see the printed PDF looks pretty darned good! Scroll down, cause there’s more!

Tabular Bass Part Printed

After plunking out a bass part I started digging around in the menu up in the upper right of the screen (The one that says Bass and has a bass icon) – This is where I started to wonder what the future plans are for this app…. when adding more tracks you are given some icons like a flute, piano, trumpet, saxophone as choices that don’t make much sense in a tabs app. This is also where you select which sound you would like and again there were some interesting choices like pan flute. I didn’t find a piano sound though, strange given that there is a piano icon.

I also found another limitation of the free version – 3 tracks.

Tabular - Drum PartsI was very excited to find out that the app supports drum tab! Honestly, after laying out a drum part in this app I am in love with the drum notation! It is easier than Sibelius! I have never enjoyed doing drum parts in Sibelius or Finale just because it takes me WAY longer than all the other parts, like flute, clarinet or whatever. In this app it was WAY quick!!!!!!! You are given a menu to chose which instruments you are going to need notation for – I selected a BD, SD, HH, High Tom and Low Tom. Then the entering of notes is just like for guitar except that you have this nifty instrument picker for each note value…. so for instance while entering the first 8th note I simply selected that I wanted an Open HiHat and a Bass Drum to sound. Notice the pink arrows below? For the HH and SD there are several versions of those sounds as indicated in this screen shot by the o’s next to the words. If you tap on the o next to the HH it becomes an x – that would mean the HH would sound closed. If you tap the o next to the SD it becomes an @ and then it would sound muffled. You can see the changes very quickly in the tabs.

If you tap the little hamburger icon in the bottom right you are given options to Undo, Redo, Copy, Paste and many other choices as well…. they all were very easy to figure out once I found them.

Of course the Play button allowed you to play the song…. which you can listen to at the bottom of this post. I hope that eventually they add AudioBus and InterApp compatibility. As it stands, in order for me to share the audio with you I had to record it into GarageBand on my MacBook then upload it to SoundCloud. I think the audio quality is pretty good – Of course I remember back in the day when QuickTime first gave us a MIDI synth built in on our desktops! Boy, was THAT exciting too! (Didn’t sound as good then though!)

I like the way each part looks individually but I could not find a way to look at or print all three parts at once though.  I love the fact that I can see the tabs right along with the standard notation! It is possible to hide the staff and it is possible to replace it with just the rhythms! Which of course means that I could play form it without gripping too much!

For the price, you can not beat this app for being able to whip out some tabs for some reason or another. I love where they have started, a very solid and smoothly working app that gives us a chance to create tabbed notation for free on the iPad!

I am going to keep this app in my sights to watch for these improvements….

  1. Being able to see more than one part at a time
  2. The addition of AudioBus and/or InterApp Audio
  3. I really think that I should not be allowed to add too many beats in a measure. It might even be nice if the rest of the measure automatically filled up with whatever rests I needed to finish it – so if I had already entered a quarter note and two 8th notes then it would show a half rest. As soon as I entered an 8th note I would see an 8th rest and a quarter rest. (MINOR)

Here are the two PDF parts for you to see the quality of the printed parts (feel free to steal the music and perform it at your next concert, just mention my name in the program and send me a video of the performance!) -

Tabular Bass Part | Tabular Drum Part


Here is the audio of the file from my SoundCloud -

Music Notation Apps for iPad

So music notation apps have really had some major changes in the past year or two and even the past weeks!

Here is a file I scanned in using PhotoScore on my laptop, edited for musical markings and then I did a few experiments with it so you can see some of your choices… or rather see AND hear.


iPad Music Apps on sale right now! (Updated Again!)

Updated once at 2:47PM EDST – then again at 6:43PM EDST

For those of you wanting to get your feet wet in creating music on your iPads, this is the time to make a few purchases! These apps are currently on sale! Get them now because all of these are amazing and these prices represent a significant drop in cost! These are al apps that cost more than most people spend unless they are actually interested in what is offered. The price point of these apps are, at the same time, considerably cheaper than such an app would cost on a regular computer. Considering that many of these emulate a piece of hardware the difference in price becomes an even greater bargain!

For those who want some great synth sounds:
Animoog Animoog – $4.99 (On sale from $29.99) - If you do not have this app you need to get it NOW!
Animoog Animoog for iPhone – $1.99 (On sale from $9.99)
Filtatron Filtaron $0.99 (On sale from $7.99)
iMini iMini $4.99 (On sale from $9.99)
iSEM Arturia iSEM $4.99 (On sale from $9.99)
Magellan Magellan $6.99 (On sale from $14)
Sunrizer iconSunrizer Synth – $5 (On sale from $10)
Sunrizer iconSunrizer XS - 
Chordion Chordion – $0.99 (On Sale from $3.99)

For those who are interested in DJ app’s
TraktorDJ Traktor DJ – $9.99 (On sale from $19.99)
TraktorDJ Traktor DJ for iPhone – $1.99 (On sale from $4.99)

DAW – Digital Audio Workstation sort of app
MeteorMultitrackRecorder Meteor MultiTrack Recorder- $9.99 (On sale from $19.99) - A great entry price point into the world of iPad DAW apps!
Synergy Synergy Studio $9.99 (On sale from $19.99)
Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 11.38.29 AM BeatMaker2 $4.99 (On sale from $19.99)

For the Guitar players
TabToolkit TabToolkit $0.99 (On sale from $3.99)
Bias BIAS-Amps $14.99 (On sale from $19.99)
JamUpPro JamUp Pro XT $9.99 (On sale from $19.99)
AmpKit AmpKit+ $8.99 (On sale from $19.99)

For the drummer in all of us
ImpaktorImpaktor – $1 – (80% off!)
Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 11.38.29 AM BeatMaker2 $4.99 (On sale from $19.99)

GlitchBreaks GlitchBreaks $2.99 (On sale from $4.99)
iMaschine iMaschine for iPhone $1.99 (On sale from $4.99)

For the Live8 Users
LiveRemoteLiveRemote $6.99 (On sale from $9.99)

For Music Teachers
Moosic Studio iconMoosic Studio -$20 off right now!

NOT iPad/iPhone APPS
Presonus has 50% off their Studio One DAW, Notion4 software app, and Progression 2 software for writing tabs/notation!
Notion has a great iPad version of their notation app that works hand in hand with the desktop version. At this price Notion is a ridiculous low price of $49.50! That is even a lower price than you can cross upgrade for from Sibelius of Finale!

You Have To Go Slow To Go Fast!

Time stops for no one!

Time stops for no one!

That is what I tell my band students all the time. We are gonna have to make some bad sounds in order to sound good. This is what I tell my band students all the time in rehearsals.

This also applies to using tech in the classroom. It takes some serious time invested in getting my iPad setup and ready for use in teaching. The first reason I bought an iPad for, on the first day they were released, was to put all my music on it in PDF format. That way I did not have to lug around folders and folders of scores plus it would also mean I did not have to go searching to find the correct scores in the middle of rehearsal.

So here is the process and why I say it takes time, a lot of time!

  1. Pick the music out
  2. Pull one original of every part out along with the score
  3. Take those down to the copy room and scan them (we call this process “digitizing the music”. I say we because thankfully I have students helpers that help out here.
  4. Once scanned it shows up in my email. I open that attachment and rename it then save it into DropBox. Since Mavericks has been released this process is a tad easier. I double click that attachment and once it opens I can rename the PDf, Tag it (love those tags!), and choose where to save it to right from the top menu bar on the PDF. (If I open that email on my iPad then I use the Open In menu to open that PDF attachment in the DropBox app. That way I can file it and rename the file right away. That also allows me to access the PDF file from any other app on the iPad)
  5. The next step is to open UnReal, GigBook, or ForScore on my iPad. I then access DropBox from ForScore and import the files that I need.
  6. The next step is to make a set list for each band that I conduct and insert all the correct PDF’s into those set lists so that it is easier in rehearsal to find the next song. I could just use the search function but once I have all the songs for all the bands I conduct in the iPad there is a pretty long list of songs. It takes too long to search for a song in the middle of a rehearsal with a group of middle students when they all hold noise makers in their hands!
  7. Once set lists are set up I could stop there and my life would be made easier my just having the sheet music in the digital domain BUT I think there is one other thing we can do! Let’s link a song from out iTunes library to the PDF file so that we can easily play a demonstration recording for our students.
  8. That means we actually have to have a recording of that piece in our iTunes Library! So sometimes I have to go make a recording, go download it from somewhere, or go buy it. Sometimes I use a service like Keepvid.com to pull a video from YouTube.
  9. Then once the MP3 is in my iTunes library I can then tap on the link button A)in ForScore (tap on the song title in the top of the screen – at the bottom of the menu that pops up is that link button) B)in UnRealBook you use the music menu at the top of the screen to link a song to the PDF.
  10. HINT – In ForScore you can actually link several MP3′s to a single PDF – so If you are a choir teacher for instance you could have a recording of the soprano part, another recording of the alto part and also a recording of the accompaniment all linked to the PDF of the music. Then if you are not a great piano player you don’t have to try to stumble through the playing of the parts, just play the MP3!

Now, since I teach 4 middle school bands that each play 3-4 pieces for the concerts and 2 high school groups that will play 6-7 pieces each you can start to see why this process takes so long.


Here is the final action to be taken…. Once this is done for each piece the first time you then make sure to make backups of you digitized PDF music and also backups of your iTunes library! This way the next time you perform and rehearse these pieces this entire process will take just moments! It is well worth the time up front because your rehearsals are easier to plan for and carry out as well!

I am very interested in how everyone is using the new “Tags” in Mavericks. I have started using tags more now and started changing the way I name my files. Now instead of putting the composer and arranger in the file name I simply put that info into tags. How are tags changing your workflow?


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