Importing Instrumental Parts Scanned In NotateMe Into Notion Using Just an iPad – Tutorial

notatemelogoNotion Large IconSmartMusic LargeSmartMusic InBox Large

Most teachers use their summer time as a chance to rejuvenate and relax while at the same time planning and preparing for the upcoming school year. As a music teacher who likes to take advantage of the technology available to us today, I am deep into the prep work for my fall Marching Band Show. Currently I am working on the music. I wanted to share some of that process because the tools we have available to us are exciting. These tools open doors to new ways to teach, assess and improve our students/ourselves.

CURRENT PROJECT: My end outcome is that I want my marching band students to use SmartMusic to record playing assessments. This allows me a chance to hear each and every individual student, give them feedback to improve as an individual and then I also use those assessments to hone in on issues to work on with the full group.

THE PROBLEM: SmartMusic has an extensive repertoire for band students but my marching band music is not included in that list.

THE SOLUTION: Thankfully MakeMusic allows us to use Finale to create our own SmartMusic assessments.

THE PROCESS: Of course that means that we have to take each instrumental part and get it into Finale in the first place. Because Finale and I do not get along – I have other programs that allow me to work much faster – I utilize the XML file format. XML allows me to work with other music notation programs to create the digital sheet music that will then smoothly import into Finale which will translate that into SmartMusic.

As complicated as this process sounds it really is so much easier these days! In fact, much of the work can now be done using simply an iPad allowing me to work wherever I want to. I do not have to be sitting at my desk at my house or God forbid, the school! So here it all is….

STEP ONE: Using my iPad I scan each part into NotateMe working with the PhotoScore plugin. Neuratron has just updated the desktop version of PhotoScore to version 8 so this process can also be done using a regular computer. I’ve not yet figured out which is fastest, the computer or the iPad. Each works so darned well now that I think you are going to win no matter which way you go!

STEP TWO: Using NotateMe on my iPad I go through and carefully check for the following items – Time Signatures, Key signatures, Multi-measure Rests and then notation issues. If any of these, which I call the Big Four, are messed up then trying to import the NotateMe XML into another music notation app is going to be more work. Honestly, I don’t even worry that much about articulations, dynamics and for sure NEVER worry about markings such as rehearsal letters, tempo or style. Those items are faster most times to fix later in another app once all parts are imported.

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 5.07.48 PMSTEP THREE: I then take advantage of NotateMe’s XML export feature to dump the now digital sheet music into Notion on my iPad.

STEP FOUR: I double check that all is good once I open the music in Notion. Again I check the big four – I often find I missed something in NotateMe like a key signature change. Sometimes I find that measures of rests did not all import correctly.

STEP FIVE: If it is a transposing instrument I then transpose the part to concert key and then select the entire part and copy it.

STEP SIX: Then it is time to open the full score and paste in the individual part. You really must pay attention because if you missed one of those big four items in the above steps then when you paste in the new music EVERY SINGLE STAVE is changed and is now WRONG! Time signatures will be in the wrong spot, key signatures will be messed up etc… In fact – if you messed up the measures it is absurdly hard to fix it after pasting into the full score. I will just undo the paste, exit out of the score and go back to the individual part to fix any of the big four issues.

STEP SEVEN: Importing from NotateMe into Notion using the XML format messes with positioning of dynamics so you have to select the entire Notion score, tap the more option, tap the attachments option and select the auto position.

STEP EIGHT: I now go through the entire score to figure out where I have missing dynamic issues, to input rehearsal letters/numbers, set correct tempos and any other final details.

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 5.07.37 PMSTEP NINE: Then I export the score out of Notion as an XML file, Import that into Finale and save it as a SmartMusic file.

STEP TEN: Assign playing tests to the students

STEP ELEVEN: Listen to the playing tests and give immediate feedback!

This all sounds like it might take forever but in reality I can have a song completed in one day and STILL not get my wife too upset at me. :)

I’ve recorded this process in a nifty YouTube video for you to see the process of taking the scanned NotateMe music and importing it into your score. That is the part that takes a little bit of thinking so I figured a video may help some of you. If you have questions please contact me and I will see where I can help.


Notion Large IconNotion -Download on App Store (Just make sure you know that the Saxophones are an IAP for .99 each – STUPID)

notatemelogoNotateMe – Download on App Store (Make Sure to get the PhotoScore IAP too though)

SmartMusic LargeSmartMusic – Download on App Store

SmartMusic InBox LargeSmartMusic Inbox – Download on App Store

Finale – Web Site (as they do not have an app for the iPad yet for Creating Finale files)

Music XML – Can’t download this as it is built into various apps like Notion and Finale. It is owned by Make Music though.

Creating Music Notation on an iPad

Notion Large Iconnotatemelogo = AMAZING

Ever run into the scenario where you pull out a piece of music that you really want to perform for your next concert only to find out that the keyboard part has been lost?

Ever have a budding young bass guitarist who is learning how to read notes and play that bass but you know that if you handed her tabs to go along with the notation things would go a whole lot faster in rehearsal?

My answers: Yup and Yup!

My response: Use a couple of apps, my iPad and an external MIDI Keyboard along with my Camera Connection Kit and an hour or so later I have the problem solved!


I took the actual paper copy of the bass part to the piece of music, used the outstanding app NotateMe Icon SmallNotateMe along with the PhotoScore plugin and took a picture on my iPhone of the bass part. NotateMe and the PhotoScore plugin turned that picture of the sheet music into digital notation. Using my iPhone and my finger I cleaned up and fixed a few small errors. Then I exported that as an XML file into Notion Small IconNotion for iPad. Notion is a full featured music notation app for iPad as well as desktop computers.

I did the same for the guitar part just for the fun of it because it is so stinking fast and easy to do!

Here is what the Bass guitar part looked like after I imported it into Notion and set the instrument as a Bass Guitar (Notion automatically had the TAB turned on for me already but it is a quick tap of a button to turn off as you will that I did for the Guitar part) Now I’ve got my bassist taken care of.


On to the lost Keyboard part – for this I hooked up my Camera Connection Kit to my Novation LaunchKey. The LaunchKey is bus powered by the iPad so I didn’t have to worry about additional power cords or batteries.

Then in Notion I added a piano part, tapped on the first measure, and then the record button. Then I played the right hand in real time while Notion (on an iPad mind you!) recorded it. During recording you get these little blue lines but as soon as you hit the stop button those blue lines get turned into music notation! I have come to discover that doing this on an iPad is giving me just results that are just as excellent as on a laptop! Then I repeated and recorded the left hand. While recording the left hand I set the split point so that it wouldn’t mess up the RH part. I had a couple of weird errors afterwards so I fixed those quickly by tapping and selecting and erasing and changing – easy and quick!

After all that this is my score I ended up with on the iPad… You can see that it looks fantabulous!

Notion ScorePRSunset

The last and final step was to hit the share/export button, elect Export PDF, select Individual Parts and then Email. I sent myself a copy to print in the morning and I also sent my bassist a copy of her new sheet music that now included the TABs.

If you have NOT used NotateMe you really must! There is even a totally free version of the app called NotateMe Icon SmallNotateMe Now that allows you to experience the PhotoScore plugin as well FOR FREE – the limitation is that it only works with one stave parts. So a trumpet part could be scanned in but a piano part could not.

If you have not decided whether or not Music Notation on an iPad is ready yet get your gift card out and buy either SymphonyPro Small IconSymphonyPro ($9.99) or Notion Small IconNotion for iPad ($14.99) (warning – Notion does take about 2GB’s of space on your iPad because of the amazing sounds used in the app!)

Xenon Labs does also have a version of Symphony for iPhoneSymphony for iPhone that works very well and is only $4.99

The Full version of NotateMe is $39.99 (NotateMe is actually an app that allows you to handwrite music notation)
The PhotoScore Plugin for NotateMe is $29.99 (Yes, I fully understand that some of you may have choked on your pancakes upon seeing the price of these two apps – let me put it into perspective for you though – I used to do this same thing with a REAL computer, a REAL scanner and the $250 version of PhotoScore for computers. The scary cool thing is that it seems like this almost works better on my iPad!)

Notion on iPad – Music Notation Rocks on iPad!

I’ve got to say that entering music notation scores and editing them on an iPad is a very enjoyable feat these days!

Notion Small IconNotion ($15) makes things so extremely easy with the touch interface! If you have NOT purchased Notion for your iPad you are crazy! I have no idea what in the world you are waiting for!

In fact, using the on screen keyboard to enter notes using the record function actually ends up working better many times than doing it on the laptop!

Notion Record

Drum notation is so much easier too using their drum pads to enter the notes in. I used to dread clicking on the correct space or line with a mouse – now I just select voice on or two and then tap the pad for which ever instrument I want! Easy as pie!

Notion Drum Editor

Th sound is amazing as well when we play the score back!

Notion is not without issues – it drives me crazy having to transpose in my head to get all the instrumental parts entered correctly! Also, there are still issues with page layouts. I just can not believe this is even possible though on an iPad all for $15!

Editing Music Notation with Notion (On Laptop vs iPad)

NotionLogoThere are more and more reasons to love using an iPad as a musician! One of those is the fact that we now have full featured music notation apps available! One such app is Notion from PreSonus Music. It is for several reasons that I have purchased Notion on both my iPad as well as my laptop. Now the journey has been to learn the in’s and out’s of both apps!

Using Notion feels very familiar in so many ways, in fact Notion is even easier sometimes then wha tI have used in the past! I really like inputting articulations for instance – it’s a breeze! Sometimes I run into problems figuring the new methods out though. Thank goodness for Twitter and Notions quick and helpful response! To Whom ever is on the other end of that Twitter account – THANK YOU FOR BEING HELPFUL AND RESPONSIVE!

Here is the issue I had today – My score had rhythmic issues in it. I had 16th notes for instance that I needed to be changed into 8th notes. I was on my laptop at the time. What I tried was to select the 16th note then click on the 8th note tool in the tool bar – I figured it would a quick fix. Well, it did not work!

Eventually I decided the best way to change the 16th notes was to click on the 8th note tool (or simply type the short cut – e) then I went and clicked on each of the 16th notes in the score that I wanted to have changed. As long as I clicked right on top of the old note this worked, each 16th was changed to an 8th. This process created problem #2 though –  I kept missing that darn note head and so I would end up with an extra note that I then had to delete!

Then I found that if I selected the notes I wanted to have changed, then typed the = key followed by e then all the notes I had selected would then be changed to 8th notes. This of course then left me with problem #3 though – Now I had measures with the wrong number of counts in them!

So I grabbed my iPad, fired up Notion and tried changing note values on the iPad….

Strange thing was that on iPad, if I tapped on the 16th note that I wanted changed to an 8th and then tapped the 8th note in the tool bar the value changed as I expected it to! I guess this is just the difference between working with a touch screen. What I could not ever figure out on the iPad was how to change more than one note at a time (problem #4) This really wasn’t an issue though as on iPad it is so fast to select a note and then change the value – it just seems faster to tap, change then on the desktop.

So…. in hopes that I help someone else figure out how to do this this the correct way I post this blog post. I also made a video so you can see what I mean – it’s a bit difficult to explain.

Posted in Notation. Tags: . 2 Comments »

Symphony for iPhone – Free! Music Notation App for the palm of your hand!

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 7.56.50 AMOK People! This is a no brainer!

There are a couple of music notation apps available for iPad currently. One of the main choices for anyone seriously looking for a great app has been SymphonyPro Small IconSymphony Pro by Xenon Labs, LLC. This app has been out for a while now and has matured into a wonderful way to work. Now Xenon has released Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 7.56.50 AMSymphony for iPhone  (normally $4.99 and worth every penny of that!) BUT currently it is on a very short sale – it’s a good sale too – FREE!

Unfortunately, Xenon is breaking one of my cardinal rules of selling an app. They really have no web site showing off what the iPhone version is capable of currently. I am sure they are working on one but for now you have to read what is offered to you on the iTunes Store.

Let me highlight a few significant items for music educators:

  1. This app works with Music XML – that means you can start a score here and transfer it to another app like Symphony Pro on iPad, Notion on iPad or even Sibelius/Finale/Notion on desktop!
  2. This app will allow students to pull MIDI files off the internet and put them into notation files! This is a wonderful way to find transcriptions that others have done but are not available in sheet music yet.
  3. You can hook up an external device like a MIDI keyboard and speed up entry of notes!
  4. You can even record in real time!
  5. You have up to 15 instruments, 45 staves and 4 voices per stave at a time to work with!
  6. You can make staves invisible to view only what you want to view at any given time – as you can imagine, this would be very helpful on a smaller screen.
  7. There are chord, lyric and even annotation tools available
  8. After your students are done creating they can use AirPlay to play their masterpiece through AirPlay compatible speakers or an Apple TV (or the AirServer/Reflection apps) – Think about it – NO WIRES!

Can you tell I’m a bit excited about this? :)

Symphony Screen Shot

MakeMusic Joins Peaksware

Peaksware MakeMusic

Well that’s interesting….

August 6, 2014 – MakeMusic, Inc. announced today that they will join the umbrella company Peaksware, Inc. owned by LaunchEquity Partners, the same investment company who took MakeMusic private in 2013. MakeMusic joins TrainingPeaks, another brand already under the leadership of the Peaksware team. Each brand will remain focused solely on their respective markets of music technology and endurance training, continuing their long histories as industry leading brands.

Back in March of 2013 , MakeMusic was sold to LaunchEquity Partners for 23.8 million. Now, in August 2014, LaunchEquity puts MakeMusic under the same umbrella of operation with two sports training programs.

Here are a few quotes from the press release:
“Our vision is to provide the platforms by which performers and instructors can work to perfect their crafts. Both TrainingPeaks and MakeMusic have already helped countless people achieve mastery. Working together under the Peaksware umbrella, they will be able to reach even more,” said Andy Stephens, Chairman of both MakeMusic and Peaksware.

“Whether it’s coaches and athletes, teachers and students, or composers and musicians, we’re pioneering software platforms that help people reach their potential across sport, music and beyond,” said Mr. Fisher, CEO of Peaksware. “Our vision is broad, but it’s based on a core strategy that we’ve honed over the years at TrainingPeaks, and it will be the cornerstone on which we build a great organization.”

What I know about Peaksware…. From their website here is their “What We Do” Statement…
“We bring together industry leading brands to help guide people along their journey of improvement through a unique approach to deliberate practice.”

They have three brands listed under their direction – MakeMusic, TrainingPeaks, and TrainHeroic. So now they have one music company and two athletic companies under them.

The Peaksware website will take you about 60 seconds to see EVERYTHING they have on it. Short, precise and to the point. –

The Peaksware four step approach does make perfect sense from a teachers perspective – take a look at it here.


My Thoughts…
I will say that MakeMusic this past year has not seemed to loose traction from the first acquisition. They have just made a few nice updates to both SmartMusic and Finale 2014. We can only hope that this new partnership creates a stronger MakeMusic!

Chris Russell had a chance to talk for a few minutes with Peaksware’s CEO, Fisher. It is interesting that he has a daughter who is using SmartMusic in her efforts to learn an instrument. This helps me think that maybe the news of today is good news.

Read more about Chris’s thoughts here.

The press release from MakeMusic can be found here

Essential iPad Apps For Marching Band Directors (during the prep for marching season)

Are you a Marching Band Director with an iPad? Well then you are probably working through much of the same preparation as I am. How does my iPad help me in all of this craziness?

In the prep of the drill I have my iPad on the entire time even though I am writing drill in Pyware 3D. On the iPad I use UnRealBook Small IconUnRealBook or ForScore Small IconForScore or possibly even GigBook Small IconGigBook to display my music. I also use the annotation tools in those apps to write on top of my music all of the drill chart pages and instructions. I can not imagine going back to paper music and having to write al of this in, copying the scores, inserting into sheet protectors, using three ring binders and then just waiting for that rain to wreck it all!

If you have an iPad and you are NOT using one of these three apps along with PDF’s for you sheet music you need to go get on this task right now! These apps are some of the apps that have been on my iPad since I bought the first iPad on the day it was released! In fact, as a music teacher, this is THE reason I bought that iPad1! Which of the three should you start with? Pick one…. seriously…

I have a new app that I think is going to be amazing this year – DrillBook Next Small IconDrillBook Next is $9.99 for the Directors version of the app that I just discovered this year. After creating the drill in P3D I then simply export performer coordinate sheets which I then import into DrillBook Next – giving me my entire drill in interactive format on my iPad!

Students can also easily use the app as well – BONUS: they can use it on DrillBook Next Small IconDrillBook Next Reader for iPad ($4.99), DrillBook Next Small IconDrillBook Next Reader for iPod ($2.99) or even Android ($2.99) as well as on a desktop computer (on the computer it’s free, yup, FREE!)

The only thing missing here is being able to watch my drill and have it synced to music. After talking to Scott – the developer – though, I fully understand the copyright issues this would cause with the way access to the drill works.

I have not convinced myself to go iPad on this front while creating and editing my musical notation files yet. I have ordered my Notion5 though for desktop and am committing to digging in and learning Notion this year. I mean, come on! There is a full fledged desktop AND iPad app available for Notion Small Icon Notion! Yes, I could work with NoteFlight but Notions excellent sound have won me over!

Currently my workflow is to create and edit in Sibelius then export to Avid Scorch Small Icon Avid Scorch. I also export PDF files to use in ForScore or UnRealBook. I will say that when I use Scorch I find one extra step is needed to make great use of the size of the iPad. If I just open the full score there is always too much info on the screen. On the desktop I simply focus on select staves and all is well. In fact if you save your Sibelius file with it focused on those select staves then when you email it to yourself and open it in Scorch it will stay focused! My problem is that I want to also have a DrumLine condensed score I can jump back and forth between. Well…. here’s your Sibelius Tip of the week – I wrote this Blog Post back in Aug 2012 and I use it all the time because of dumping scores over to the iPad. This Blog Post will show you how to set up condensed scores so that they are just a tap away, just like you can quickly jump to any other part in the score.

Of course I also have to have a metronome app while arranging music – I find that I have used Tempo Small IconTempo the most of all my metronome apps. It works on my iPad as well as my iPhone. It looks great on both. This is not a metronome designed for the iPhone that I have to use in 2x mode, it was designed for both devices screen sizes.

MUSIC RECORDINGS (of our show):
CLICK TRACK CREATION – For each of my marching show pieces I always add in a click track at least for an intro measure. That way we are not guessing when the recording is going to start as we rehearse. In order to do that GarageBand small iconGarageBand works fine.

MultiTrack DAW small iconMultiTrack DAW or Cubasis small iconCubasis would work too. The process is simple – Import the recording, create another track with drums in it and record a few measures of you tapping along to the recording. Move that audio to the beginning and export the new file.

Remember – These apps would also give you an excellent way to record your groups for evaluation later! UnRealBook and ForScore allow you to record rehearsals (or whatever) while you are viewing your PDF music even!

REHEARSAL with those recordings – One of my essential apps for marching band rehearsal is AnyTune Icon SmallAnyTune Pro+. We use this app constantly all season long so we can rehearse our marching skills to a recording of the show. AnyTune Pro+ allows us to set book marks so we can quickly jump to any place in the song we want. We can slow the music down and we can even loop a section if we want to go through it a few times. In fact, if you are only going to by one app this fall this just might be your best choice!

MUSIC RECORDINGS (of any song):
I of course use my iTunes app and library to play music for the students over AirPlay – AirServer App works wonders for not having to have wires connected!

I have also started using SpotifySpotify. On the iPad it is amazing the music you have available at your fingertips FOR FREE! There is so much educational music on there it astounds me – soloists for all instruments, classical, jazz, brass band, pop and whatever else you want.

I use FileMakerGo Small IconFileMaker on my desktop and iPad all the time. I have created databases in FM that save me a ton of time every year. Want a roster of my class, tap that button. Oh, you want it sorted by instrument? No problem. What about if you want a list of your band sorted by gender but then also broken down by grade level and then sorted by last name? Every year you have to order shoes? Not a problem, here is the list…. same with shirts…. and by the way I grouped the kids names by size of course!

The drawback to FileMaker is that you have to create the database on the desktop FIRST! Then it can all be transferred and worked with on an iPad or iPhone. Of course if you have a friend that has designed a database maybe they would be nice enough to share! But seriously, go buy a database and STOP USING SPREADSHEETS! There are a few very useful sample databases that come with the download of the free iOS FM13 App. The real fun is when you can edit those to make them work in ways to benefit you and your program.

DropBox Small IconDropBox is also an essential place for me to share files with students like music arrangements as they become available or PDF’s of the drill charts (although with DrillBook Next, I think PDF drill charts are going bye-bye!)

We also use DropBox to store all of the registration and medical forms for all the kids. They send it to us, we scan it and upload it to DropBox. From there my entire staff has access to important information. DROPBOX TIP – We will also make sure to download those files to our devices so we can have access when there is no network at camp, on trips or God forbid in the hospital.

I try really hard to keep my blog up to date on wordpress by using Blogsy Small IconBlogsy. Blogsy is heads and tales better then the WordPress App. When my students are blogging I suggest they use the WordPress app because it is free and it does actually work (most of the time).

I also have a band Twitter, FaceBook and YouTube.

The Apple Calendar app is basic as is the Reminders app. The benefit to using those two apps is that I use SIRI to interact with my schedule all the time.

When I actually need to open an app though I use Calendars 5Calendars 5 or Fantastical Small IconFantastical – a huge step up from the other apps!

I also love using GoodTask Small IconGoodTask for my reminders (you know, this might need to be your one MUST buy app for the fall… hmmm….)


This is just a blog post to get started with ideas of how essential tech is in a Band Directors life during Marching Season


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