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!

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Click on the image below for more information.

iPad Music Education Ebook