How to teach notation in Finale Notepad

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    After years of teaching K-2, I am now teaching 6th grade, as well. My school just implemented a one-to-one laptop program, so all my students have PC laptops. Due to budget restrictions, we are using the free Finale Notepad this year so we can do some composition. Do you have any suggestions on how to get the students comfortable with navigating the program so we can do some actual composing?

    Should I start with just having them copy a short piece of music so they can practice selecting the right note values and putting them in the correct place? Or should I do something with more creativity built in, such as giving strict parameters, something along the line of “in 4/4 time, write 4 measures in C pentatonic using only quarter notes and half notes”, which at least gives them choice in the notes?

    They can’t get more creative until they master the software, so what is the quickest way to do that?


    I think that having the students transcribe short pieces would be a good way to have them practice the skills of working with finale. Once they understand the basic concepts, then you can bring in the creative aspect. I think they are both good ideas, but having them learn with a piece written before hand will more clearly show whether they have mastered the concepts. Once they have understanding, they can use the program as a tool to express their creativity, rather than having divided attention between “How do I make this work?” and “What do I want to do with this?”

    As far as the way to teach it, you may well know that mixing strategies is usually more effective than using just one. If one student learns more by hearing and seeing, but another learns by experimentation, both will be engaged and can benefit from a demonstration followed by an in-class assignment. I know you have more experience than I do, though, so methods to use in the classroom is your call.

    I hope this helps!

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