When Noteflight first appeared on the scene over a year ago (read the original Noteflight review) I was happy to welcome it with open arms. At the time of its debut cloud computing was finally starting to take root in the form of online services such as Google Docs and other similar ventures. Noteflight was the first truly usable online music notation program that I felt was a worthy replacement for bare bones, basic editing programs like Finale Notepad. At the time it was a little rough, but the product has matured quite a bit and now the company has rolled out a new premium version of the software dubbed Crescendo which offers even more more storage space, commercially sampled sound fonts, and other requested features such as score templates and guitar tablature.
Still, why should a music teacher
care about it if they are more comfortable with Sibelius, Finale, or Notion? It turns out there is a significant reason, especially if the
teacher is using the product in a large group classroom setting.
The new premium
version of Noteflight adds many new features such as dozens
of high quality commercial sounds, an increase to 250 the amount of
scores that one user can have in their save file, and the addition of
more ready made templates that can include guitar tablature and other
notation variations. The sharing features of Noteflight also received a
boost in Crescendo, allowing the user to share a score with an
individual instead of having to make it publicly accessible to everyone
on the Internet.
The nice thing is that for those schools and teachers that subscribe to the Noteflight Learning Edition of the software all of these features are available as well, making this version of the software every bit as useful to teachers as the now non-free Finale Notepad. The thing that sweetens the deal is the integration with the Haiku Learning Management System, an online portal where teachers can create and receive completed assignments with students in a local or distance education classroom. For those of you not familiar with Haiku, consider that what Haiku LMS provides to Noteflight Learning Edition is similar to what Impact provides for SmartMusic users. The Haiku system simplifies grading and classroom management tasks and makes for a more robust learning experience over the long run.
In an interview with Joe Berkovitz,
CEO of Noteflight I asked him where he saw the product going in the
future and was he really sure that Adobe Flash (which powers the online
Noteflight music notation software) was able to take him there. The
response to that question was an unqualified yes, stating that Flash is
not going to get in the way of innovation in the Noteflight music
system. While he acknowledges that Apple's denial of Flash support puts
a damper on easily porting to an iPad application he says
that the company is fully committed to taking Noteflight into the mobile
arena on tablets and other devices that have not even appeared on the
market yet. At the same time he touts the fact that Noteflight is not
investment driven, they instead pursue a very organic model of growth,
leaving nothing to stop them from one day achieving feature parity with
other major music notation systems.
With the new
Crescendo feature set, the Noteflight Learning Edition is even more
appealing to music teachers than it was a year ago. The idea of having a
constantly up to date music notation software program that needs no
user user initiated maintenance coupled with the power of the Haiku
Learning Management System is really an interesting possibility. One
that I would have to guess most K-12 institutions would probably
discover that they prefer over burdening the IT department with upgrades
and fixing things when something gets corrupted.
For the price of $300
a year for over 200 students, the Noteflight Learning Edition makes
good financial sense if the more advanced features and MIDI note entry
are not an issue. While the lack of MIDI support is a downer perhaps
one day with the help of technologies such as InternetMIDI or other programs Noteflight will be able to overcome that hurdle as
well. In any case, the simplicity and convenience of creating and
viewing student assignments through Haiku LMS with the help of
Noteflight Learning Edition is well worth exploring.