Part 3 – Notation Software

Today we are delving into my favorite notation softwares. There are so many options available so before picking one, look around! Then you’ll be sure to find what’s best for your studio.


The free version is Notepad 2012.

  • Free download is available for anyone, on any computer.
  • You can save files, print, listen to playback and use up to 8 staves.
  • One font is available and only simple entry (by hand).

After Notepad, there are several other Finale product levels that go up in cost and capabilities – see the comparison of products here.  The full version of Finale is amazing and I love having that for my studio. However, my students use Notepad at home to do most of their work and it’s such a great product for free!

*Sibelius – Another music composition software, very powerful as well. Friends use this software and love it. No free versions available.

* – an open source, free music notation software. I have not used this much but the interface looks simple enough. Would be neat to use with students so you don’t have to worry about sharing file back and forth.

*NotateMe – This is a powerful music notation app available for any apple or android mobile device. Using your finger or stylus, you write music and this program learns to read your markings to convert it into a fully professional score! Very neat for on the go composing or even to jot down a motive your student comes up with while improvising in the lesson.

These are my favorite notation programs but I know there are so many other neat softwares out there. Please let me know in the comments below if you have any other programs that you love to use – my students and I would love to check them out!

(Side Note: Thankfully, all musicians and composers realized the importance of everyone being able to work together so file extension .xml will convert easily between all music composition softwares now. However, if you have the same software as your student, I find it easier to pass files back and forth that don’t need to be converted.)

Author: Whitney

Whitney Hawker, NCTM, teaches group and private piano at Weber State University, Utah. She loves surprising students with the perfect piece or a new exciting game! After graduate school, she missed sharing ideas and resources daily with colleagues so she and her friend, Spring, began blogging together at