App of the Week: NotateMe

App of the Week: NotateMe

App of the Week

This week’s app is NotateMe. A free version with limited features – called NotateMe Now – is also available.


NotateMe allows you to handwrite notation on the iPad or iPhone using your finger or a stylus and see it transformed to “printed” notation in as you write.  The notes also make a sound as you go, allowing you to “proof listen” while you work.

NotateMe Now is a free version of NotateMe which is limited to a single stave.

If you’ve never seen NotateMe in action, take a look at the official demo video below

Using NotateMe

It takes a little practise to get used to the app, but I’ve had a good experience with it overall and there’s something magical about seeing your handwriting transformed instantly.  I also still think it’s a novelty to hear my handwriting as NotateMe plays it back!

When you first start using NotateMe, it has a “learning period” where the app learns your personal handwriting style.

The NotateMe screen is divided into two sections:

  • You write your notation in the lower half
  • NotateMe’s interpretation appears in the top half of the screen – as you write

Although I’m around technology all the time, the technology behind this app still amazes me.  I guess I appreciate it more because I spent so many years notating scores by hand the old-fashioned way – with pencil and paper.

What age students?

I’ve used this app with children aged as young as 7, and I think it works best if the students are given clear demonstration of how to write on the iPad screen first.  It’s quite a different experience to writing with pencil and paper.

My own 7-year old son spent a lot of time colouring-in his noteheads and nothing would appear on the “printed” stave at the top  until he lifted his finger or the stylus off the screen.  He also found that it was very easy to make accidental markings on the screen which were then interpreted by NotateMe as notes or other musical markings.

He did get a little frustrated at times when the app didn’t recognise his notes, but conversely when it did, he reacted with a “Yesssss!” (accompanied by small fist pump) as if he had conquered a level in a game!

You can see him using the app in this video:

Ultimately, I think pencil and paper is still best for young students, but NotateMe could be a good option if you want students to create their own printed score and iPads are the device of choice at your school.  Students do get a kick out of seeing their compositions published “professionally”.  One student once told me that once his composition had been typeset in Sibelius he felt it looked like a “real” piece of music.

NotateMe would be perfect for older students who want to jot down musical sketches for compositions or arrangements.  I particularly like it myself for this reason. There’s something natural about handwriting notation rather than always using a computer keyboard.

If you have the full version, students can also export the notated score as a MIDI file which allows you to open it in other (compatible) audio apps.


1. I much prefer to use this app with a stylus than with a finger because it’s difficult to see exactly where your finger touches the screen.  You can purchase an inexpensive stylus from Amazon, Ebay or your local electronics shop. You can even make your own (mind you, my son preferred using his finger). Tony Vincent of Learning in Hand shared some useful info on buying or even making your own stylus.

2. If the app is not recognising the note you’re entering, add some strokes to it – ie. colour the note head in a bit more, or add some length to the note stem.  It will re-read the note as you make adjustments.

3. Erase mistakes with a satisfying “flick of the wrist”: draw a circle around the mistake and then flick it upwards or downwards to delete it.

4. If you’re working with younger students, teach them to zoom in (by pinching and pushing your fingers out on the surface of the iPad) before they start writing.

How can I use it in music education?

1. Students can use the free version to notate simple single-stave compositions

2. Students can use it for melodic dictation exercises

3. Students can export their score as a MIDI file and open it in another compatible app – such as Music Studio – where they can add an audio recording (of themselves singing or playing an instrument) or other software tracks

4. Students can email the exported MIDI file version of their score (using the Send option) to themselves so they can transfer it to a desktop music sequencing program such as GarageBand, Mixcraft, Logic or Pro Tools

5. Students can email the exported XML file version of their score (using the Send option) to themselves so they can transfer it to a more fully-featured notation program such as Sibelius or Finale

Have you tried NotateMe with Students?

Let me know if you’ve tried NotateMe with your students and what age they are.  Has it been a positive experience?  What sorts of things have you done with them?

iPad Music Project Ideas!

iPad Projects for the Music Classroom includes 22 step-by-step projects you can use straight away with your music students. Take the guesswork out of choosing apps and discover how you can use iPads in an engaging and meaningful way.

Click on the image below for more information.

iPad Music Education Ebook

By |2018-09-07T01:38:18+00:00February 14th, 2014|iPads|17 Comments

About the Author:

I love to simplify technology for music teachers. I help teachers from all around the world through the Midnight Music Community - an online professional development community where teachers can take online courses, ask questions and receive personalised help for the music tech goals.


  1. Desley Meads February 15, 2014 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    This looks really useful. I think I’ll get the free version on my own ipad to trial it and then consider putting it on the ipads at school. By the way, your son has a lovely singing voice.

    • Katie February 16, 2014 at 9:34 pm - Reply

      Thanks Desley!

  2. Richard Llewellyn March 26, 2014 at 9:32 pm - Reply

    Hi Katie
    Good to see this review – thanks for sharing…

    It would be great if you could also review the Notion iPad app. I work for PreSonus who now own this app (so I’m going to be slightly biased)- but it really is far superior to any other notation iPad app that’s currently available.
    Notion is a viable alternative to the Finale and Sibelius programmes (neither of which have a notation iPad app!) – The programme is a lot easier to use, the sounds are extremely rewarding and I think you’ll find it’s a lot more affordable than other programmes.
    One thing you may like to mention is the 50% education discount Apple offer education institutions…

    Best wishes

    • Katie March 28, 2014 at 10:32 am - Reply

      Hi Richard – long time no hear! I wondered if you had moved to PreSonus along with the app. I have a few other apps lined up first, but will definitely consider it. I show it in most of my workshops and online courses. – Katie

  3. Nathan Cahill March 26, 2014 at 11:57 pm - Reply

    Thanks Katie, I was thinking about it, but you talked me into it! I use my phone’s microphone… a lot… to quickly get song ideas down – maybe this will take that process to the next step. Oh, may I suggest to people worried about the price that they could look for itunes gift card deals to soften the blow a bit?
    Thanks again, Katie!

    • Katie March 28, 2014 at 10:30 am - Reply

      Hi Nathan – I wish I was getting a commission for all the sales 🙂 I do think it’s worth it if you’d use it a lot in class and I figure people can test it out in the free version first to get a taste for whether they like it. iTunes gift card deals are a great idea – I often forget to mention that. – Katie

  4. Elizabeth Moran March 27, 2014 at 12:06 pm - Reply

    I’m loving these weekly emails Katie. Will be downloading this app for my class iPads tonight ! Thanks for the tip.

    • Katie March 28, 2014 at 10:28 am - Reply

      Thanks Liz!

  5. Bree March 27, 2014 at 8:18 pm - Reply

    I can also see myself using it to quickly notate things when presenting ideas to the students (reflected from the iPad onto the interactive white board). Much quicker than writing on the standard white board with the bonus that I can then play my example!!!!!

    • Katie March 28, 2014 at 10:29 am - Reply

      Yes – that sounds like something I would do too. Sometimes sketching by hand is just quicker. – Katie

  6. Joanne March 31, 2014 at 5:26 pm - Reply

    Weekly tips is a great way to learn and keep up with what is happening in ICT with Music. A useful app I have come across is Loopy HD which is on sale in the App store at the moment (50% off). It was used on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Billy Joel performing ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’. Clip is on You Tube.

    • Katie April 2, 2014 at 9:48 am - Reply

      Hi Joanne – yes I love Loopy HD and have been showing it (plus another looping app) in my workshops for a couple of years now. And the song I usually use to demo it is the Lion Sleeps Tonight 🙂 It’s a good thing that the Youtube video is giving it more exposure. – Katie

  7. […] App of the week: Notate Me. My 7-year-old demonstrates how to handwrite music notation on the iPad and see it transformed into digital “printed” music. http://www.midnightmusic… […]

  8. […] App of the week: Notate Me. My 7-year-old demonstrates how to handwrite music notation on the iPad and see it transformed into digital “printed” music. http://www.midnightmusic… […]

  9. […] Guide To Recording Vocals In Any Software Application [downloadable checklist] | Midnight Music. App of the Week: NotateMe | Midnight Music. 3 Ways to Create Graphic Notation on iPad | Midnight Music. How to make a funky beat in 30 seconds […]

  10. Engela Fullard April 29, 2017 at 12:24 am - Reply

    I hope one day one can use it with Android.

  11. steven sametz August 4, 2017 at 8:04 am - Reply

    Spent two weeks trying to get this run. All demos make this look intuitive and easy. The actuality is that it doesn’t really distinguish accidentals from each other or from noteheads. After considerable time, it hasn’t “learned” my handwriting, and I’ve been do pro copying for 30 years. Real thumbs down on this.

Leave A Comment