Annotating scores on a MacBook

I work at a school that has a 1:1 laptop program. This means that every teacher and student comes to class with a laptop. We are also trying to drastically cut down on photocopying and printing. These facts consistently lead me to ask two questions —

“Do I really need to print this?”     and

“How could I do the same task on my computer?”

My biggest problem this year has been with reading music scores. I love to photocopy them, give them to students and highlight and circle and write all over them. My solution as of yesterday is to use the annotate function in ‘Preview’ when looking at a PDF of a score from Below are the steps I took.

1. I started off with a PDF of ‘The Rite of Spring’ by Stravinsky.

2. I opened the PDF with ‘Preview’ on my MacBook and used the annotate button.

3. I then used the ‘!’ button to make a notes on the score.

4. Finally I got my grade 11 Music students to use this tool as well as ‘Variations Audio Timeliner’ to start making notes for their first attempt at an IB Music Investigation.

5. They will take ‘screen shots’ (Command + Shift + 4) of the score and timeliner and will use them in their investigation.

The next stage for me is to upload my PDF with annotations onto a set of iPads so that my students can easily flip through the score while listening to the music. I will be given a set of iPads to experiment with from today, so I’ll keep you updated as to how it goes!

About Alison Armstrong

Alison Armstrong BMus./BEd. (Queensland University of Technology), Dip. ABRSM (Performance- Singing) I have trained to teach Music (Elementary, Middle and High School) and Drama (Middle and High School). This is my 7th year as a teacher.
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4 Responses to Annotating scores on a MacBook

  1. I have not used Preview for annotation, I am sure it is great, but Skitch (it is on your laptop) is another very easy to use tool. Check it out. It may need an update, but pretty straightforward.

  2. Joe Peters says:

    I developed my own system which was semi-software, and then I found Variations. I am looking for more information on the use of Variations and if anyone has used the server based version. I could not get through anyone on the original team at Indiana University. I will share what I have done when I have posted it on my blog. Will keep you informed.

  3. Jon Dunn says:

    Alison: Just came across your blog… Thanks for your comments on Variations Audio Timeliner! We’re always happy to hear from people who are using it successfully.

    Joe: Please feel free to get in touch with me at jwd(at) if you’d like to talk more about Variations and/or Variations Audio Timeliner.

    Jon Dunn
    Indiana University Digital Library Program

  4. Joe Peters says:

    Dear Jon and Alison, Just to let you know that Victor Pang and I are progressing with Variations 3 and configuring that for server use by the current graduate music students in the Southeast Asian region. I would like to keep in touch with you and others who are doing this – not through the current SourceForge site which is not specifically about music applications. Perhaps, we could also think of a small conference on the topics of annotated timeline lines and shared databases.

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