My Perspective – My Most Useful Music App for Teaching

8 01 2011

Everyone is making lists of their favorite apps from 2010. For me making a list is too finite. There are so many great apps out their but my most useful app that I used in 2010 as a music educator that I would not want to do without is NoteFlight. It is a music notation and playback application that has made a huge difference in my classroom. NoteFlight is not a granddaddy music publishing and notation software like Sibelius or Finale. However, it does include all of the most common and useful features you would need to teach general music and composition. My students make use of the fact that you can notate and print, save as a sound file, or a midi file for import into GarageBand (or other music DAW software). And the basic student membership to NoteFlight is free, it is online web software so the platform of computers you are using does not make a difference. Homework can be done with any computer with an internet hookup. Teachers and heavier users can buy a higher level membership at a very affordable price that allows more flexibility for sharing to larger numbers of students. This allows templates of exercises that can be shared online. I also can make comments in text on the music and share it back with the students. And not least the Interface is the best I have come across for notation software. It is simple, clean, and easy to use. No need for thick and heavy manuals. Check it out at



8 responses

21 01 2011
Jim Jeffery

Hi Brad,

I’m a classically trained pianist and software engineer and have been teaching my three children piano. One of the things they’ve struggled with is music rhythm notation so I’ve written an iPhone App “Dr Rhythm” that helps them out.

If they come to a section of music that they’re unsure of the rhythm of they can tap the notes/rests/ties/triplets into the App, set the time signature and speed (Italian notation or BPM) and hear what it’s supposed to sound like and see the currently playing music event.

It’s available now in the App Store and there’s more information on my website at

Best Wishes

6 03 2011
Cheryl Oosterman

Thanks for sharing this – our students love it! Very accessible software and it contains all the features one would need in MYP & DP Music.

Also thanks for sharing so many useful posts!

Greets from the Hague, the Netherlands

6 03 2011
Brad Johnston

Hi Cheryl, Yes, I am always surprised more people haven’t found this gem yet. Glad you enjoy it!

6 03 2011
Brad Johnston

I tried a new lesson plan using this software this week and it went quite well so I have decided to add it here.

I teach listening and analysis to my seniors and have been giving them an mp3 or CD to listen to and then they write a listening and analysis report on what they hear. I tried using SoundCloud to share a song with them this week. It was fantastic as they could leave a voicethread on the audio file I gave them in real time. It worked beautifully and they didn’t even have to give a bar number of the score or timeline of the mp3 as the file is playing along with their comments. It is a great way to get students to practice for the IB Music Listening and Analysis Exam coming in May. Give it a try. I am sure you will enjoy it.

6 03 2011
Cheryl Oosterman

Hi Brad, Have you ever shared your wonderful YIS music website on the OCC? There are many relatively inexperienced IB teachers out there (like myself) who would be greatly helped by it – my Year 13 students even use your website to study…
Just checking out SoundCloud – looks wonderful – a great tool to use with all yeargroups, actually!
Thanks again!

7 03 2011
Brad Johnston

I shared my site a while back by putting it up on the OCC. There were several things that I found helpful and posted there. I am not sure how many people use that resource. There are some good things posted. Especially helpful for getting started. I began teaching the IB five years ago and no one in our school could give me any help.

28 10 2014
Andrea Trivax

What do you recommend for elementary? Noteflight’s legal terms state that it is not intended for students under age 13, and 13-18 only with parents’ permission. We have 1:1 laptops and I need something for 5-6th grades.

16 11 2015
Brad Johnston

Hi there,

Noteflight works fine for grades 5 and 6 as well. I think the reason they say it isn’t good for elementary is legal terms involved with email addresses. Our school is a one on one school and therefor every student has a school email address and a personal blog where they post there work. To sign up for the FREE version of Noteflight the student needs an email address and has to agree to certain terms for useage which is not a problem if they are supervised in class and have a school email.

It will depend on your schools IT department and how they feel about this situation. I would just ask them for their opinion if you want to protect your own interests.

I hope this helps.


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