Published: April 13, 2010

The programming software that professor Daniel Jones used for his honor’s music courses was a little outdated—the program was stored on floppy disks. With his students in mind, he decided to change his music notation software to Sibelius. Now, his students will benefit from a music tool with 21st century teaching in mind.

“This is the current stuff,” Dr. Jones said about Sibelius. “[It’s] cutting edge…designed for working on present computers that interface with other software.”

Sibelius allows program users to produce and view musical compositions with music notation and is used by professional and amateur musicians alike. Music notation refers to the visual representation of music notes. It works as the universal standard for trained musicians.

How can you use notation software in teaching and learning?

Dr. Jones hopes this technology will keep his students interested and help them understand the material. He said using the software enhances his ability to teach. “I used to use overhead transparencies for lyrics, for songs, for music notation, for other visual aids, and all that stuff now I just do it on laptop.  So if we want to be looking at a particular piece of sheet music or a video of a performance, or whatever it is, I can just do it easily now…Part of my job in teaching is to not offer incredibly complex notated examples, but to make them really simple…that is one of the reasons…I wanted to get this notation software,” he said.

The program will not completely replace his  arsenal of teaching tools. He will still rely on traditional methods, leaving the software to function as an additional tool, “Being a music teacher, one of the visual aids for teaching that I use all the time is notation of melodies, and so on, notation of music. Using software is just so much more effective."

How will students benefit?

Dr. Jones said some students find the notation too technical. The program allows him to present musical pieces to his class with a computer, allowing students a simpler view of the material. “I’m a firm believer that if you can present a topic in multiple conceptual and physical forms, you’ll have a better chance of getting it across to the majority of the students. [Sibelius is] a visual aid among several approaches for teaching,” he said.

Although most students won’t be directly working with Sibelius, they probably won’t need to.  The software will demonstrate the functions behind music, from melody to bass line, and keep students informed while entertained in class.

With help from his ASSETT Development Award, Dr. Jones plans to purchase the software and a multi-feature electronic keyboard called a workstation. He said he will use the workstation in conjunction with Sibelius. He plans to use this technology for his Appreciation of Music, Music in American Culture, World Musics, and Music of the Rock Era courses at CU.

Written by Esteban L. Hernandez, CU 12’, ASSETT Reporter