You write the songs….and want to write them down?

There are many free online tools for creating music – where pupils can use drag and drop graphic representations of sound samples to combine together into a piece of music.  And these musical creations can be highly complex, with the user’s ear and creativity as the guides – the end result can be listened to online (and perhaps downloaded as an audio file).

But sometimes teachers and pupils need to be able to write down the music score in standard music notation. This can perhaps be so that others can perform the created music.

All Falkirk primary schools have the free version of Finale notation software on their PCs.  Opening the Finale Notepad  program starts a wizard where the user makes choices such as paper size for the print output, the choice of instruments (or voices), the title of the music, the key and time signature (which are both selected from a drop-down choice list). Those who don’t see themselves as experts in notating music will be reassured to know that Finale Notepad automates much of the work.  Once the music score opens up a user simply chooses the note type and clicks onto the score to make a start. The user can click away (adding or deleting notes) and press the play button to hear back the creation.  If it doesn’t sound the way the user wants it’s a simple matter to add or delete notes until it does sound the way the user wants.  Finale Notepad automatically makes the note values fit the music score so again it supports pupils who are still learning about music notation by letting them concentrate on getting the sound they want – Notepad lets them play it back anytime and adjust as often as they like. And if writing a song with lyrics the user simply clicks on the lyric tool and then the first note of the music. Then when typing the words the music notes are automatically re-spaced to line up notes with syllables (for multi-syllable words a user simply clicks – for the various syllables to be spaced to each note). Clicking on the space bar moves the cursor to the next note for the next word to automatically line up under the note.

MuseScore is a free music notation software download which provides an alternative to commercial programs such as Sibelius and Finale, and is available for Windows, Mac or Linux. MuseScore lets you enter your music (and edit until it sounds the way you want) and then print sheet music or save it as PDF or MIDI file. Notes are entered on a “virtual note sheet” – and if you don’t like what you hear when played back you can drag any note until it sounds the way you want. There are an unlimited number of staves (so you can have various voice parts or instruments), and within each staff you can have up to four voices or parts. Note entry can be done with your keyboard, mouse, or MIDI keyboard. And there is an integrated sequencer and synthesizer. You can import and export MusicXML and Standard MIDI Files.

A list of features of MuseScore (and as a comparison table of features to Finale Notepad 2008) can be found here:

A full guide to using MuseScore (both online and as a download handbook) is available here: MuseScoreTips is a useful site which provides tutorials, guides, helpsheets, videos and tips for users of MuseScore.

So whether it is to have a print version of a song pupils have created, or an instrumental composition, Finale Notepad or MuseScore provide both provide a means to get the music into print for sharing and performing by others.

Noteflight is a free online music score creation tool. This online music writing application lets you create, view, print and hear music notation  right in your web browser. Work on a score from any computer on the Internet, share with other users, or embed into your own pages. There is a free version and a paid-for version. The free version lets you link, embed and share scores online with audio playback, have up to 10 scores per account with 10+ basic instrument sounds and  print scores with any number of staves. The free version can also Import/Export MusicXML and MIDI files and sync with MP3s or YouTube videos.

ScoreCloud – free downloadable software for computer or as an app for mobile or tablet device. This lets users input the music they want to notate either by using notation to add note by note, or by playing (or singing)  into a microphone. The software then converts audio to notation, and any notes which need to be amended can be moved within the on-screen score. The free version lets users save a limited number of scores online. There are premium pad-for versions which gives users more storage and options.

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