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Notation apps for iPad just got easier with Notion

By Tim Topham | iPads / iPhones

May 19

ipad notation apps notion 2

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been testing out Notion for iPad. notion-ipad_icon

Notation apps for iPad are getting pretty impressive these days but it can be hard to find the right one to suit your working style. Notion is a good cross-over for people who are used to software-based applications on their Mac or PC and want similar functionality on their iPad without handwriting recognition. 

If you regularly use an iPad in your studio and are looking for an easy way to notate music in a professional way, I’d highly recommend checking it out. I’d previously struggled to get my head around Symphony Pro (which cost a bomb and is no longer supported in any case) and while Finale and Sibelius have music viewers (here’s a good summary of the options), nothing, in my opinion, has the functionality, features and ease-of-use of Notion.

Main thoughts:

  • Fully featured – this app can do everything!
    • Unusual note heads? Done. Percussion notation? Done. Articulation and Dynamics? Sure. Ornaments? They’re all in there. Instrument-specific signs and symbols? Yup. Lyrics and chord symbols? No problem!
  • The MIDI note input is excellent (i.e. you can connect your keyboard via USB and Apple Camera Connection Kit, and play directly into the software – fastest way of notating anything!). Although it doesn’t have a quantize function, it does allow you to select a ‘margin of error’ (minimum velocity and minimum duration) of between 20ms – 60ms when you record to allow for notes not being playing at exactly the right time or keys being accidentally half-depressed. This worked really well in testing and was a big feature lacking in Symphony Pro.
  • The layout is easy to use once you know the main sections.
  • There is a good help feature for when you can’t work out how to do something, including a quick overlay reference to show you what all the buttons do. I couldn’t instantly work out how to change key signature in the middle of a piece, but with a quick look at the in-built help file, I found where the key adjust was.
  • The quality of the final print-out was excellent.
  • Can output to lots of different formats incl wav, output to PDF/MIDI/XML, email, save to Dropbox, etc.
  • I liked some of the tricks like “fill score with rests” and a number of other time-saving features.
  • Recent updates have solved a number of bug and crash issues that have been reported in previous reviews.

Granted, I don’t need to notate on a daily basis, however when I need to quickly write and print something, this will be my first port of call from now on as it’ll be just as easy as (and far more professional than) hand writing.

Want to find out more? Check it out on the app store now.

What’s your favourite notation app?

Let me know below what you use for notation? Do you stick to Sibelius because it’s what you already know or are you venturing into the handwriting-recognition apps?

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary download of this app for review purposes. I was not required to write a favourable review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Tim Topham

About the Author

Tim Topham has one mission in life: to stem the tide of children quitting music lessons by helping teachers maximise student engagement through creativity, technology and innovation. Tim hosts the popular Creative Piano Teaching Podcast, blogs regularly at topmusic.co and speaks at local and international conferences on topics such as pedagogy, business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Tim has been featured in American Music Teacher, The Piano Teacher Magazine, Californian Music Teacher and EPTA Piano Professional. Tim holds an MBA in Educational Leadership, BMus, DipEd and AMusA.

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