Music Notation on iPad

Notion Large notatemelogo

I was so very sad when I lost the ability to use Sibelius because I upgraded my mac to whichever cat or landmark it was two years ago. Of course Sibelius had just gone through a huge shake up because of Avid so my faith in the product wasn’t high anyways.

So, what did I do? Bit the bullet and bought Finale! HA… no…. sorry…. already owned it (since the very beginning) HATE IT! Only use it because of SmartMusic (Love that!)

So what have I really done in the past two years? Bought Notion on both my Mac as well as on my iPad as well as Symphony Pro on the iPad. I have also relied heavily on NotateMe and it’s scanning/handwriting features which rock!

NotateMe has saved me countless hours with it’s PhotoScore plugin! It is amazing the number of times I have to rearrange, recreate, compose and alter music for myself and my students. Because of the ability to take a picture of existing music using NotateMe and it’s PhotoScore plugin (on my iPhone/iPad) my life has become much happier! Notion is the app into which I dump my NotateMe files to do any editing that I need to do though. It just seems easier for some of the final edits like adding measures and multi-rests or adding rehearsal marks.


  1. I can hook my Novation LaunchKey keyboard up to my iPad, hit record and Notion rocks at transcribing whatever I play.
  2. Notion has just added HandWritten music capabilities! This is rock solid people! I’ve used it to write out the parts to an entire song for my beginning band and create the final score/parts to print out. I love it! You just simply write, I prefer to use the Pencil stylus by FiftyThree, and the handwritten notes get turned into digital music notation!
  3. Notion combined with iCloud is blissfulness! I can start a score on my iPad, save it to iCloud and then open Notion on my laptop and my score is there. It just works! No emailing the file, no texting the file, no dinking around with DropBox or Box. The score just shows up on both devices!


  1. I still run into stupid issues every now and then using Notion. Like trying to do step edit entry from my midi keyboard. It worked great but then when I wanted to stop entering notes and enter a rest I got stopped dead in my tracks from entering anything else form the keyboard! (All because I didn’t click on the little tiny pencil icon in the bottom left corner that I could barely see even though I had my glasses on!)
  2. Notion on iPad has this stupid drifting screen issue where it keeps trying to find the cursor, as it should. The screen drifts over to the cursor and keep going putting the cursor out of sight!

I don’t have to rely on my laptop so much anymore but I do still long for Sibelius at times. BUT that is partly just because I’d used it for so long that knew exactly how to accomplish things in it. AND Sibelius was rock solid and stupid easy to use!


Take the jump people, stop holding out! Be brave and dive in because the capabilities on iPad for music notation is going to blow your mind! In the words of my 6th graders, “What is that Magic?!”

Be ready to read and learn from other peoples mistakes and willingness to share! Be ready to write about your experiences and share with others what you have learned!

Be ready to join the FaceBook Notion Users Group! They are awesome people and I’ve gotten help there very quickly when I run into issues!

Notion Small IconNotion on iPad/iPhone costs $14.99 – this is a no brainer these days.

The Handwriting IAP for Notion costs $7.99 – This is really a no brainer as well. The technology fades even further into the background when using this capability!

notion 5Notion on a Desktop costs $99 – So much cheaper than Sibelius or Finale. Allows you to own both the desktop and the iOS apps as well as the handwriting for less than normal cost of the other two!

NotateMe Icon SmallNotateMe Now is Free and allows you to scan in one stave parts for free as well!

NotateMe Icon SmallNotateMe is the full version of this app and costs $39.99

The PhotoScore IAP costs $29.99 – again buying BOTH the full version of NotateMe along with the PhotoScore IAP costs you WAY less than purchasing these capabilities on a desktop!


Expect the same feature set and no bugs and no frustration trying to learn the new apps.

If you are a long time user of Sibelius and still have a working copy – keep it around! (Especially for all those files you have created through the years!

iMaschine 2 is here! Very Attractive for Music Composition and a Very Nice Intro Price!

iMachine2 intro price -$4.99! Ultimate Expansion Pack intro price -$1!

(Normal price will be $9.99 for each!)

How do you get kids composing, creating, playing and exploring? Give them some inspiring tools, some technology that allows for easy manipulation and creation. Native Instruments has been around for a long time creating hardware and software. They also are releasing apps for iOS devices, like iMaschine2.

iMaschine 2 gives you and your creative mind a way to create music anywhere, easy ways to rearrange those ideas that pop into your mind and then allows you to share your explorations with others. After all, what fun is music that you keep to yourself!? Give your students a real audience by making it easy for them to push their newly created masterpiece out to their friends, family and your community.

Seeing as how this app gives your kids an easy method of sampling and recording they will be fusing electronic alongside their voice/instruments without thinking twice about it.


You get pads, keys, step sequencer, arranger, a smart keyboard, sampler, and some really pretty colors in this new version. The smart play keyboard gives you a way to play chords, arpeggios and scales, all leading to more ways to get something that sounds “right”. If you have an iPhone6s you even get to make full use of the multitouch capabilities! iMaschine2 is one of the first apps to really dig in and use this new tech in a music app. Multitouch gives you a way to play different velocities, will change the repeat rate on the pads and gives you instant access through use of pop up menus.

Here is a list of features from the App Store


  • The Arranger lets you turn your loops and scenes into full tracks with the swipe of a finger
  • Create different patterns for each group and arrange your scenes
  • Step Mode lets you quickly create beats without finger drumming
  • The Smart Play keyboard lets you play chords, melodies, and basslines that are always in-key
  • The arpeggiator lets you add dynamic motion to your tracks
  • Multi-colored pads and groups help you better organize your sounds
  • Quick Actions with Apple 3D Touch help you optimize your workflow with shortcuts*
  • 3D Touch lets you control the velocity or rate of note repeat depending on how hard you press the screen, bringing you closer to a true hardware experience*
  • Major library update, now including over 300 MB of content: 19 projects, 38 drum kits, and over 750 samples
  • Open your existing iMASCHINE projects effortlessly in iMASCHINE 2
  • Expand your sonic arsenal with ULTIMATE COLLECTION – 36 iMASCHINE Expansion packed into one ultra-affordable bundle

Features like this don't usually come cheap but until December 1 they do! Currently iMaschine2 is at an intro price of $4.99 after the 1st it will go to the normal price of $9.99! The news gets even better in that the Ultimate Collection of ALL 36 iMaschine Expansions packed into one bundle is also at an introductory price of $1 the normal price will be $9.99!

I love this video from the first version of iMacschine – it really shows the possibility of this app for musician/dancers!


PDF Expert Free! (First time ever!)

PDF Expert is one of this apps that I use all the time. This is the app that I run all my non music documents through. I use it to keep track of anything sent to me via email especially. This is the app I use to fill out entry forms, contracts, to sign membership papers and all sorts of things teacher related.

It is free currently and it normally costs $10! This week only though I believe!!!!! So hurry! You would be crazy not to grab it at normal price but while it is free it's a no brainier!

The capabilities are extensive so watch a few of their videos and read their website to get an idea of the possibilities!


Tunable is Free Today! Get this NOW!

For Today at least Tunable is free! Go…. Go now! Tuner and metronome both in one app! There is a tone generator as well.

This app is great in that it shows a history of being on or off pitch. It also has a big green bar that grows the longer you are in tune! Great for students to visualize the concept of tuning!


Using Technology To Let Students SEE Musical Concepts – MultiTrack DAW to the Rescue!

MultiTrack LogoWe are in Middle School Band rehearsal and I am trying to explain the concept of shaping notes a particular way. I am trying to explain the space I want between the notes. I am trying to get the students to understand that there is a start to each note, a middle to each note and an end to each note. I am even playing for them on my instrument so they have a professional to listen to and model. And…. as frequently happens in middle school it’s not sinking in with nearly enough of the little children.

I stop…

I pause…

I think. In fact I think FAST!!!! HELP!!!!! What can I do to help them understand? Then it hits me, they are musicians and so many musicians are VISUAL learners!

I grab my phone and quickly AirPlay it out to my Apple TV. I tell the kids to watch the screen. I open up MultiTrack DAW SmallMultiTrackDAW and see a few quizzical looks on their faces… ah, ha! I’ve got ’em! Technology!

I record enable track one and hit the play button and I record the perfect take of a few short measures. NOW they are SEEING the music! We talk about what they see, the digital waveform, the shape, the space. Then It happens… a student raises his hand and says… “Can I try?”

He records. We compare the shapes. We listen to the two recordings and compare. Now the students SEE and HEAR both! We record a few other kids and slowly the style and shape starts to come around to what I want. We leave class feeling like we learned something today, feeling like we are superstar recording artists! (well…. OK, OK…. that might be pushing it.)

Here is what they saw… Which version is mine do you think? Which one is WAY too run together with not nearly enough space?

Notice that the Mute buttons are on for three of the tracks – that is because I wanted to record four different times but not hear the other tracks. It didn’t matter that they did not line up because we were just using them to visualize a very difficult concept which just got a whole lot easier.


You can do this with MultiTrackDAW, GarageBand or any other app that is sitting on your phone/iPad or computer. But man is it cool when you can whip out that phone and in seconds be recording/showing the kids what they sound like. I like MultiTrackDAW because it is one of the most solid and straight forward recording apps to work with that works on BOTH iPhone and iPad!

MT DAW gives you 8 tracks fro $9.99 and if you want to add 8 more it is an IAP for $5.99 and if you want to add a glorious  16 more it will cost $7.99

Juliard String Quartet – Schubert’s Death and the Maiden App on a BIG SALE!

Juliard SchubertJuliard String Quartet – An Exploration of Schubert’s Death and the Maiden for $2.99! (Regular price is $19 I think)

Now here is some quality music for you – Experience the best seat in the house, as the Grammy Award-winning Juilliard String Quartet performs Franz Schubert’s Death and the Maiden. The collaboration between Touchpress—creators of the acclaimed music apps The Orchestra and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony—and Juilliard Digital, introduces a new way to experience world-class chamber music.

Key features:

• Take your place in the quartet to see every detail of the performance—an invaluable tool for both serious students and casual listeners.
• Highlight each instrument to discover the interplay between the musicians.
• Unlock the secrets of Schubert’s composition with the innovative BeatMap visualization.
• Gain deeper insight through a synchronized score, commentary, historical context and personal reflections from the musicians.
• Avery Amereau and Brian Zeger perform Schubert’s haunting original song, presented together with the quartet for the first time.

Notion Just Got HandWriting!

Notion LargeAnyone who wants to create music notation on your iPad is aware of Notion from PreSonus. (I hope anyways!)

Tonight Notion, a $14.99 app, just got a huge update that seriously ups the possibility of what is possible with this app.

Notion now does HANDWRITING! This is a $7.99 In-App-Purchase and is powered by MyScript.

The IAP is a bit hidden. You have to go into a new score and tap on the gear icon at the bottom of the screen. There you will find the Handwriting Info.

From Skitch

Not much info is available at the moment as this just came through tonight and I’ve not seen any videos either but here is a screen shot of the info built into the app itself….. Maybe when I get paid Friday I will buy this and try it out! IF you try it let me know how it goes!



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