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!

Sibelius Percussion Part Tips

When entering Marching Band Drum Line parts I have a few tips that might make your life easier. I think they fit into that category of “things I know Sibelius can do but how do I make it do it?”

BASS DRUM STEM DIRECTIONS – (Click on the thumbnails to the right for larger pics) Marching Bass Drum parts usually have all the stems going up. The stem direction after inputting your notes will not be all going up though! To fix this you have to wade through a few dialogue boxes. 1)Go into the House Style menu and Edit Instrument. Find the instrument you are using for the Bass Drums staff and click on it once then click the Edit Instrument button. If you picked the correct instrument and your score is currently open then you should get an error message stating that the instrument you are about to edit is currently being used. Click the OK button. 2)Now go to Edit Staff Type  3)go to the Notes and Rests tab. 4)Find the option that says stems always up. Now you have to hit enter three times to exit out of the edit boxes but you should be in business.

1)  2)  3)  4)


CHANGING 4 DRUM PARTS to 3 DRUM PARTS – Changing from 4 part Bass Drums to 3 Part Bass Drums can be easy. You may have to tweak a few ideas here and there but this is an easy and quick method. My BD part is using notes F, A, C & E from the bottom up. I’ve got the 4 part music input and now I need to print 3 part music for my kids. Add another Bass Drum part to your score, Select the entire 4 drum part (triple click in the first measure) and copy it down to the new 3 BD part (hold down the option key and click on the first measure of the new part). Now comes the magic! Keep the entire part selected and go to the Edit Menu – Filter – Advanced Filter (while you are there learn the sort cut!) Now select the option for Notes or Chords with at least 2 notes in them and then go down and change the Pitch section to single E any octave. Then click the select button on the bottom. Check out the screen shot….

Now double check your music and make sure that only the top notes in spots where you have “chords” in the BD part are selected.

If that is true then it is time to get rid of those top notes… hit the delete key.

Now select the entire line of music again, use the advanced filter once more but this time change the notes/chords with at least option to only 1 instead of 2 like last time. Hit the select button. Check your music… you should now only have the high bass drum part (the E space) selected. Now simply hit the down arrow twice. Now the rhythms that the top note BD were to play will be played by the 3rd BD. Now you may want to alter this technique a little, maybe you want to get rid of the bottom note, so use the idea to get the results you desire. There may be a few spots where you need to alter pitches to keep enough movement going.


Now it is time for me to go to Drum Line Sectionals! Afterwards I will give you a tip on how to make only one of those Bass Drum parts show up in your score.

AirDisplay App Thoughts and MobileMouse Pro

I have seen an app called AirDisplay, read reviews about it and thought about the app for a long time now. I have always thought that it was an interesting concept but never could convince myself to try it out. The app has been pretty steady in price, about ten dollars. This past week I finally gave it a go. So let me tell you my thoughts….

First of all, let me fill your in on the app purpose. The purpose of this app is to give your computer a second display. That display can be your iPad, iPhone, a Mac or a PC. It really is pretty slick. If you are not used to running two monitors it does take some getting used to the idea of what is going on. In other words, I could use my iPad as the second display. Then I could have my laptop showing a report I am working on and my iPad running preview showing a PDF that I am taking information from. Maybe you want to keep an iChat window up on your iPad or iTunes while you create a keynote for your next days class. Maybe you want to run Sibelius and put all the little tool bars over on your iPad so you can have the entire laptop screen for the music.

This last situation is what caught my attention as being possibly useful to me. It has always annoyed me that my laptop does not have a number pad when I work in Sibelius. So figured that maybe I could just put the keypad over on my iPad and touch whatever note value I wanted. AirDisplay does support touch.20120702-232913.jpg

Does it work? It actually does work very well, kind of. The iPad and laptop work well together. I can drag my keypad to my iPad and use touch to control the note values. There is not that much of a lag when working on the iPad at all. The problem is that my fingers are WAY to fat! There is. No way to change the size of the keypad and there is no way to change the resolution on the iPad. I thought that maybe when I used the iPhone the keypad would fill the screen more. I was wrong, the keypad was WAY smaller on the iPhone! I can of course use the mouse and click on the keypad and it all works great but my purpose is to keep my hands off the mouse to work faster.


The app does exactly what it says it will do. If you want a second display for your computer then this app would work really well! Plus it would save y from filling your desk like you see in the picture below! Just beware of what size things will be on the iPad and especially the iPhone!

I should offer an alternative to this situation though. I do have an alternative that works very well so it would not be fair to not share would it? 🙂

I have been using an app called MobileMouse Pro ever since I only had an iPod Touch, no iPad or iPhone. This app works wonderfully! It is a remote control for your mouse and your computer. It has several different ways you can set it up to be useful. I have it loaded on my iPhone and use it in the same situation as I mentioned above while using Sibelius. I simply pull up the number pad mode in the MobileMouse app and I am all set. Now I can select the note values using my phone and type in notes with my other hand. The app also has modes to control your cursor, just drag the cursor around with your thumb or use the accelerometer for a really fun time! You tip the phone to the right and the mouse goes to the right, tip the phone down and the cursor goes lower…. There are also ways to set up specific hotkeys for specific apps. I have a SmartMusic setting where I can start SmartMusic, stop it, change songs, turn the metronome on and off, turn the accompaniment on or off and other things just by tapping a button in MobileMouse. I would highly suggest MobileMouse! In fact I should do a post on it soon!

If any of you have used AirDisplay and have found a great way to incorporate it into your workflow I would love to know what you are doing! Leave a comment!