Review by Erin Brereton, Common Sense Education | Updated July 2013


Safe, collaborative space for creating and sharing original music

Subjects & skills
  • Arts
  • English Language Arts

  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Creativity
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (4 Reviews)

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Pros: Noteflight for Teachers helps teachers and students safely share assignments, musical concept examples, and opinions.

Cons: The extensive options can be confusing at first for novices; student comments offer key feedback, but with no language filter, could get out of hand.

Bottom Line: This useful, well-constructed music composition tool lets classrooms collaborate and comment on student-created songs.

With the Noteflight for Teachers platform, you and your students get access to features from the premium Noteflight Crescendo membership. This allows students to create an unlimited number of pieces with up to 50 instruments, share them with select users, print out individual parts for rehearsal, adjust audio levels on recorded pieces, and annotate scores with colored notes and symbols. You might use Noteflight to distribute theory examples, send and receive assignments, and monitor students' progress on individual or collaborative pieces.

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Students can use the cloud-based Noteflight application to write and share music online. Teachers set up and administer a private site and enter a class password and usernames for each student. Students access the site using a special URL and their log-in information. The composition tool makes the writing process fairly simple: Students just need to click on notes or key in their names. Starting with a blank score, kids use toolbar options to adjust time signature, tempo, and key signature, and choose from a wide range of musical symbols. They can add a title and hear the piece played before teachers see it. If students get confused, they can access help videos and user guide links within the composition tool.

Students have to sign up for a completely separate account on the main Noteflight site to create and share songs with the public. When using Noteflight through a teacher account, student compositions won't show up in general searches on the site, and kids won't be able to connect with random strangers who have signed up for a free Noteflight account. In addition, the only forums students can access are class ones for assignments, projects, and general discussions.

Kids put musical skills into practice as they create original compositions. They can change songs in a variety of ways, including transposing them or changing the time signature, and hear the outcome. Forums also provide experience giving and receiving feedback. When using the Noteflight for Teachers platform, communication can be restricted to classmates, which can boost the potential quality of feedback. Students can also customize each composition they create on the classroom site, marking it as private, available only to classroom site members, or shared with specific users. Composers can also let other users comment on or change their work, making Noteflight a great collaboration tool as well.

The only apparent downside: Students will likely get more out of the site if they're already able to read and write music. Classmate and teacher comments provide essentially all feedback for improvement; teachers with large classrooms will need to dedicate considerable time and effort to reviewing student compositions and providing improvement ideas.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Music-minded kids can use the site to compose more complex tunes; kids with limited experience should also find it fun, thanks to the interactive aspects and chance to communicate with other users.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Kids learn by creating music with a tool that offers impressive options. Commenting and collaboration options deepen the learning experience.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Several active forums give users a place to discuss recent compositions and other topics. Kids can find a lot of info on how to use the site, but there isn't much background on reading, writing, or playing music.

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Joanna S. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Carolina Friends School
Durham, United States
Powerful music notation tool with a collaborative environment.
Noteflight is a powerful alternative to notation software such as Sielius or Finale. It was recently upgraded from Flash to HTML5 so it runs in browsers on computers and mobile devices. It does require Internet access to use--a con in some areas. It is pretty intuitive and the sounds are decent, but MIDI keyboard entry is only available with the paid version and is quite clunky due to browser limitations (it is step entry only). Because the product is entirely in traditional music notation, teachers of younger children or general music classes may prefer to use it themselves but not spend money on the fuller-featured classroom options. Excellent lesson plans from the Vermont MIDI project are available for free, and cover multiple standards in grades 3-12.
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