Noteflight

What is it?

A useful score writing/playing app that works straight from your browser (nothing to install) on devices including PCs, Chromebooks and even mobile phones. It saves to cloud and has an intuitive interface with some procedures shared with Sibelius. While it’s not as powerful in purely score writing terms, it can still do plenty and also has some nifty features of its own.

Who is this for and how do we access it?

For S3–6 Music pupils (‘KHS Music’ Google class), we’re currently trialling Noteflight Learn and you should be able to use your school Google login at:
https://khsmusic.gc.noteflight.com/

Sorry we can’t maintain a Noteflight Learn subscription for every class, but other interested pupils might like to try a free Noteflight Basic account at:
https://www.noteflight.com/

Getting Started

The best thing we can do here is check out a couple of Noteflight’s own short ‘Getting Started’ videos. So here’s Creating Your First Score (2:27):

And here’s The Score Editor (3:24):

Note that, while you can’t do the Sibelius ‘chord click’ quick copy in Noteflight, the excellent ‘r’ for ‘repeat’ does work (for selections as well as individual notes). And the square bracket keys [ and ] are really useful for shortening and lengthening notes in the absence of the Sibelius keypad method. You can see these and a fair bit more in Making a Mess (5:34):

So that’s hopefully already a good start in 11 minutes 25 seconds of video! What else do you really need to know? Read on…

User Guide

Noteflight is well documented with a comprehensive User Guide accessible in two ways. It’s publicly available at:
https://www.noteflight.com/guide
And you can also find it in the left sidebar menu of Noteflight Learn.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Like Sibelius or just about any other program, Noteflight workflow becomes so much faster and more fun through learning to use your computer keyboard wherever you can instead of clicking menus. (Note that it’s inevitably more clumsy on mobile phones.) We’ve already seen ‘r’ for ‘repeat’, square brackets [ and ] and some other shortcuts in the videos above, but the single-page Keyboard Command Summary conveniently brings you more power (especially if you keep a printed copy with your computer or Chromebook):
http://assets1.noteflight.com/docs/noteflight-keys.pdf
So you might sometimes find yourself frustrated trying to use a Sibelius procedure that’s not in Noteflight or vice versa, but familiarity with one can ultimately only help with the other despite the inevitable odd mix-up!

Formatting and Printing

If you’re likely to be printing your score(s), you probably want to do Formatting > Page Setup > Paper size: A4 because the default is US Letter and US Letter’s not UK print-friendly.

There are also plenty of other Formatting controls worth exploring as you start to need them or wonder ‘why does Noteflight keep doing that to my music?’, but nothing essential for first steps.

Horses for Courses?

So we’ve got Sibelius licensed for use at school and Noteflight available anywhere… who needs which, and why? For most of you doing most things, Noteflight might be all you ever need, whereas some might still want the greater power and finer control of Sibelius. But the full version of Sibelius costs hundreds of pounds and needs installing on a PC or Mac, whereas Noteflight Learn is free (to you) on any compatible device. Since there are also import/export options enabling work to be transferred between the two, starting something in the ‘wrong’ one never has to be a dead end. We’ll probably be teaching Noteflight first now and using it for more things because you can work at them anywhere anytime, but can still choose to use Sibelius when we need it. :-)