Another Look at Notion for iPad

As noted by Paul Shimmons at “iPad and Technology in Music Education,” Symphony Pro, one of two legitimate music notation apps on the iPad, has disappeared.  This leaves Notion for iPad as the only legitimate music notation software on the iPad.

Thankfully, Notion had an update right before Christmas, and the update is significant.

Most importantly, you can export Notion’s wonderful audio files to .wav or m4a files.  The main selling point of the desktop version of Notion was audio samples from the London Symphony Orchestra.  Notion for iPad comes with a good number of those sounds, and you can buy an expansion pack if you so choose.  As a choral music educator, I’ve bought one additional sound: claves (I use claves to count off a recording when there is no piano accompaniment).

While I can’t say that I would choose to enter notes into Notion (for iPad) versus Finale, I prefer to export audio recordings from Notion on the iPad.  Notion allows you to upload directly to Dropbox, where I can make them instantly available to my students via our shared Dropbox folder.

The only problem I see in the near future is that–to my knowledge–Notion for iPad cannot be set for swung rhythms.

I won’t leave Finale, as I have hundreds (perhaps thousands) of songs in .MUS format, I’m very comfortable entering scores into Finale (or more appropriately, scanning scores and cleaning them up), and of course, Finale is the bridge to get music into SmartMusic for assessment.

One other note: I’m placing four different kinds of files on our Dropbox account for students, plus a fifth (if you count SmartMusic).  Although I’d prefer that all students have an iPad because of what the iPad can do, I want to make sure that any student with a technology resource can take advantage of what we have to offer.

  1. .pdf of the music in the event they have a tablet and want to use it for sheet music
  2. .xml (MusicXML) in the event they have MuseScore or Sibelius and want to rehearse using those programs
  3. ,notion file (from the iPad) in the event that they have an iPad with Notion on it
  4. .m4a audio of the song in their voice part, with an accompaniment, and all parts
  5. .smp SmartMusic file for those students that want to come in and practice on SmartMusic

I use Dropbox for two reasons (I created an account that I share the password with students): first, I can share a folder from my personal dropbox to my students and simply drop files there without worrying about copying files between folders.  Second, it makes sure that I can share these resources without just dropping them on the Internet where they become available to everyone.

Notion for iPad is $9.99 at the moment…and it’s the only option for music notation on the iPad at the current time.  Thankfully, it’s a good option, and they are continuing to improve the product.



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