An interactive whiteboard (IWB) can be used with any application that you run on your computer – including Sibelius. The key with using anything on an interactive whiteboard is to test everything out at the board (more than once!) before doing it in front of a class. Here are my top tips for using Sibelius on your interactive whiteboard.

Versions of Sibelius

Sibelius 6 and 7 work best on an IWB, mainly due to the re-introduction of the “de-select” key on the keypad in Sibelius 6 (it was removed in version 2). This key has the same function as pressing Escape on the computer keyboard and will de-select any note or rest you may have selected, leaving you free to move on to the next task in creating your score.

Tips for Teachers

Practice: Practice ahead of classtime. Get used to using Sibelius on your IWB yourself because it “feels” quite different to using it on your computer

Student Age: Decide whether your students have the motor skills to use Sibelius on the IWB. Some very young students may find it difficult and become frustrated if they can’t place notes on the score correctly

Tips for Displaying and Playing Ensemble Arrangements

You can display class ensemble arrangements, solo pieces or songs that you’ve created in Sibelius straight on the IWB.

Zoom in: Zoom in as much as possible (quick shortcut to zoom in or out: Control + or – on PC or Command + or – on Mac) without cutting off barlines or clefs

Short pieces: If students are going to play along with Sibelius, short pieces work well, particularly when you can see the entire score on the screen. Pieces with only a few instruments also often work well

Panorama: Use Panorama view (Sibelius 5, 6, 7) where possible. Panorama allows you to view your score in one long strip and students can follow their part in a continuous line.

Longer pieces: Reading across “page turns” (maybe that should be “screen turns”?!) can be difficult with longer pieces, or with pieces that have many instruments. Sometimes you can avoid this by reducing the number of instrumental parts in view. If students are only reading one part in a score, switch to the Part view instead of the Full Score view

Display limited staves: The Focus on Staves feature allows you to choose which parts will be displayed on the screen. Click on the stave you want to show on the screen and then go to View > Focus on Staves (version 6 and earlier) or Layout > Focus on Staves (Sibelius 7). You can view multiple staves by control-clicking (PC) or command-clicking (Mac) on each stave. The bonus with Focus on Staves is that the other parts will play back even though they’re not showing, making Sibelius your accompanist

Solo or Mute Parts: Open the Mixer (press M) and make use of the Mute and Solo buttons to vary the playback of the score

Count-in: If you’d like students to start playing right at the beginning of the piece, it can be useful to add a one-bar count-in. Create an extra bar at the beginning of the piece with a wood-block playing on each beat of the bar

Zoom Level During Playback: You may find that the score zoom level of your changes as soon as you press play. If you’d like it to stay the same, go to File > Preferences (Sibelius > Preferences on Mac) and click on Score Position on the left side. Un-check the box that says Use Different Zoom

Tips for Group Composition Tasks At The Board

Composition tasks work best on Sibelius when you prepare a little first: it’s a good idea to save time by setting up your score with the correct number of empty bars ahead of class

Zoom in: Again, zoom in as much as possible without cutting off any barlines or clefs

Lock Format: You might like to lock the format so bars don’t move around too much when students add notes into the score. Select the whole score by pressing Control+A (PC) or Command+A (Mac) and go to Layout > Format > Lock Format

“Touch and Hold”: To add a note or rest to the score, students can press the rhythmic value on the Keypad with their finger. They can then touch the line/space where they want the note to go. Teach them to “touch and hold” when entering the note, that way, if they touch the wrong line/space they can easily slide their finger up or down to move the notehead into the correct position (if they don’t “touch and hold” you may find they accidentally start creating chords!)

Undo Mistakes: If students enter the wrong note (or other musical object), make use of the Undo function. In Sibelius 6 or earlier, they can press the Undo button on the Toolbar at the top of the screen (if they’re tall enough!) and in Sibelius 7, go to Edit > Undo.

Escape: Teach students to finish their turn by pressing the black deselect arrow on the Keypad twice. If you have Sibelius 5 or earlier, you can sit one student down at the computer keyboard and put them in charge of pressing the Escape twice at the end of each person’s go. Why twice? When in note entry mode, pressing Escape once will take you out of note entry mode, but your last note will remain selected. Pressing it a second time will de-select that note, allowing you to move on to the next task. Twice is the safe option!

How About You?

Have you used Sibelius on an interactive whiteboard? Do you have any extra tips to share? Leave a comment by filling in the form below.

Interactive Whiteboard and Sibelius Online Courses and Workshops

If you’d like to learn more about the ways you can use interactive whiteboards and/or Sibelius in music education visit the following links:

Interactive Whiteboards in Music Classroom Online Course

Sibelius online courses for music teachers: Sibelius Basics, Sibelius Advanced, Sibelius Projects for Students, Speedy Arranging with Sibelius

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