To the Members of the Community:
I am an adult beginner piano student. I have the modest needs for musical notation software a beginner might be expected to have. It is not impossible but unlikely that I will ever compose music. I am not young and the time needed to become sufficiently sophisticated and expert to permit composition seems too long from now. I might be wrong.
I run Windows 10; 64-bit operating system.
I want to find software that allows me to attach typewritten notes/comments immediately nearby musical notes and chords on sheet music—for example, fingering instructions and/or alphabetical letters identifying notes and chords. I currently try to accomplish the same tasks by creating pdfs of sheet music and using pdf management software to attach text boxes with lettering and numbering at the appropriate places on sheet music. The process is labor-intensive, error-prone and not tailor-made for music—I’m hoping you can recommend musical notation software that makes all of this easy.
I would like to be able to design and print flash cards (never for commercial purposes; for my own use only) with musical chords displayed graphically on one side and letter-written comments on the other side. Fancy/decorative graphics are neither desirable nor helpful for my purposes. The ability to print in large format would be both. There are probably other written/graphic teaching and self-teaching aids of which I am not yet aware that would also be helpful to have; I would like access to those also.
I have only very limited experience with freeware: Several months ago I tried programs which claimed to offer the ability to do something like what I describe above: The process with two independent programs was extremely cumbersome: The user is forced to go back and forth repeatedly visiting the Unicode schedule of symbols for different musical notes in Microsoft Word and import these symbols into the document worked on. As I recall I think it was not possible to place a note on a musical staff… results were generally unsatisfactory; a waste of time. But I gave up after trying only two programs. Perhaps you know of superior freeware answering my needs.
In searching for commercial music notation software, it appears that a product named Finale is highly regarded by many music professionals. A small handful of other programs are mentioned.
I went as far as joining the user community online for Finale asking them if I could accomplish the tasks described above readily with Finale and whether they could recommend a simpler and less expensive product. I got back one terse reply promptly from one person saying, in effect “Buy Finale. It will do everything you want to do. No you can’t get around it. No, there’s no inexpensive way.” For all I know this comment may come from an individual representing the software’s marketers. That individual also mentioned a lesser and less expensive product still marketed by the writers of Finale called PrintMusic which “is still available, but not supported.” Not the warmest or most encouraging recommendation.
At amazon.com the price for Finale is about $100.00 less than from its authorized dealers online. The small number of online reviews available to read is a mixed bag ranging all the way from satisfied devotees to growling malcontents warning the reader to “Stay away from this garbage and buy Sibelius!”
One never knows….I have an uneducated but still strong suspicion that users once having invested substantial time and money in one software package and its updates may be reluctant to try a different product. But one never knows.
My teacher is highly capable but familiar only with Finale and felt this would definitely be overkill for my needs.
I described my situation to a small number of faculty and graduate students at two nearby university music departments. One of the individuals was kind enough to suggest I look into Dorico, especially the Dorico Elements package. He had no firsthand experience with it but by word of mouth from colleagues felt it might fit the bill. The $99.00 price tag, compared to prices several times as much for full-featured packages, seems more in line with my needs. I am willing to spend a substantial sum if there is absolutely no alternative. It seems unfortunate to buy a hugely powerful program and then use only a tiny fraction of its capacities. I would think there should be a better solution.
So my questions are:
a) Can Dorico Elements accomplish what I described above? Can I, say, present it with pdfs of sheet music and then readily have it allow me to type (numeric) fingering and alphabetic and other notations and position these notations on the page at will? Can it produce flash cards and other printed pedagogical materials music students find useful? Do you think Dorico Elements would not suffice but the full-featured program would?
b) I have the sense from reading comments about different software packages that they all initially involve steep learning curves. Are the online tutorials available for Dorico adequate (especially considering my restricted needs)?
c) Can you think of a superior solution—commercial or freeware—you would recommend?
Thanks in advance to anyone willing to help a beginner, a non-professional and a musical non-sophisticate.