Music 109 Introduction to Computer Notation

Assignment #1
Intro to Sibelius: entering a short and simple piano score








In this assignment you will learn the simplest ways of entering basic music information—mostly pitch and rhythm—using the application Sibelius, and you will notate a page of piano music. Be sure to read all the directions below.



Sibelius is one of the two leading computer notation programs (the other is Finale). It is installed on all the computers in the UVM Music Technology Lab, Southwick 200D. As a music major and/or a MU 109 student, your CATcard should give you access to the lab, which is available any time during music building hours except when there is a class (see the schedule posted on the lab door). If you have access problems, please notify your instructor.

The Music Tech Lab is all-Mac. If you are unfamiliar with the Mac OS, you should allow yourself some extra time to get comfortable navigating. Remember: although it may be unfamiliar, everything on a Mac is as easy or easier than in Windows. The most enjoyable way to familiarize yourself is to find a Mac-fluent buddy to get you started.

Sibelius, however, is fully cross-platform, and Sibelius files will transfer seamlessly between operating systems. You may do your work outside the Music Tech Lab if you have access to Sibelius elsewhere. You can also download the demo, for free, from the Sibelius website ( But the demo does not allow saving or printing, so do not plan to use it except for practice.


Getting Started

Sibelius is located in the Applications folder. If you can't see the main folders, click on the Finder icon (akin to Windows “root directory”) in the dock. Alternatively, there is probably a Sibelius icon in the dock as well, and you can launch the program by clicking it.

Watch the Sibelius “Tutorial Videos” nos. 1-4 (choosable either via the Quick Startup window or under the “Help” menu). The videos will run in a separate browser window. Take the opportunity to pause the video while you try out various actions in an actual Sibelius file. Note and try out any shortcuts or efficiency tips—you have to do them to remember them. This small extra effort will pay off enormously.


Main event

Choose any one of the following JPEG score pages and enter the music in a new Sibelius file. You may find it easier to print out the original to free up screen space. (Feurzeig section: do not use score 4 for your assignment—it’s our demo piece.)


Print out your final score and submit the hard copy at the beginning of class on the due date. A file on disk or sent by email attachment is not a valid substitute; however if you fail to print your work on time for any reason, a file is temporarily better than nothing.

You may print to the department printer, located in the Department office, Southwick A211, for ten cents per page, during regular office hours only (M-F 8:30-4:30). Alternatively, you may save your file as a PDF and transfer or email it to the computer & printer of your choice (PDF’s will print from any computer, whether or not Sibelius is present). Note: in Mac applications, “Save as PDF” is located in the Print dialog (File -> Print -> PDF -> Save as PDF), not (as you might suppose) in the “Save As...” dialog box.



RETAIN your file for this and all future Sibelius assignments on your own media (flash drive, zoo server space, etc.) for the duration of the semester. Your instructor may need to see your original file now or later.


Practice safe computing!

Name and save your file immediately on creation.

Save often to the local hard disk.

At the end of every work session, move your file to a safe storage medium: your own flash drive, CD, or personal server space. If your work is time-consuming, back it up in an additional location as well.

If you are working in a lab, DELETE your file from the local hard drive at the end of your work session. Failure to do so exposes your work to plagiarism, which will complicate your situation as well as that of the person duplicating your work. In any case, do not rely on the lab hard drives as safe storage space—any other user can delete your file.

Follow these simple rules for the whole course and the rest of your life!



We may NOT HAVE COVERED every operation you will need for this assignment. Do not panic! Watch the tutorials, use the on-screen Reference, and do the best you can. The purpose of this assignment is for you to jump in and get a sense of the program.

When you are unsure of anything, refer to the on-screen “Sibelius Reference,” accessible via the Help menu or by typing command-/. The reference itself is excellent, but its “Search” function is quirky; you may have better luck with the Index or Contents.

Train yourself to use the keyboards (qwerty and MIDI) as much as possible, and the mouse only as necessary. Keyboards good! Mouse bad!

When you use any of the drop-down menus—an excellent way to explore the program instead of always looking in the Reference—note the keyboard shortcut and USE THE SHORTCUT instead. Not next time, NOW. This is the only way to learn them. (Keyboards good! Mouse bad!)

You may find it convenient to print out the JPEG file you are reproducing for ease of reference as you work.



Strive to make your music look as much as possible like the original PDF file.

85-90 points: all clefs, time signature, rhythms (including rests), and pitches (spellings too!) as in the original.

90-100 points: as above plus all stemming, beaming, stem directions as in the original.

If you manage all that, any additional correctly-notated information from the original (slurs, letter dynamics, articulations, fingerings, hairpins, text, special barlines) will result in extra credit.

At this stage, you need NOT be concerned about system breaks and other details of formatting. It’s fine if the bars-per-system in your score and the vertical spacing on the page is different from the original.