Technology for Music Comp

A photo of Adam Wiencken

Many current high school or college-aged students are beginning to take an interest in writing music, whether for film, the concert hall, or the football field and basketball arena. Most likely, the preference would be to draft these scores in a digital landscape. Here are recommendations for a “gear list” when starting this new venture.

A Quality Computer or Laptop

Most people involved in the pageantry arts would recommend getting an Apple computer. Consider purchasing a laptop for easy portability or possibly a Mac Mini for something just as portable but less expensive. You would need an external monitor to complete your setup with a Mac Mini; an external monitor could also be used with a laptop in a home office setting.


Sibelius or Finale are two options for music notation software. Both have pros and cons but are currently the standard. Pay close attention to subscriptions. Students and educators can typically receive a deep discount on the initial purchase and future renewal updates for the software.

MIDI Keyboard

A simple Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) keyboard makes the workflow process much more efficient. MIDI keyboards are fairly inexpensive, portable, and durable. Choose one that fits with your disk space or lifestyle if you plan to travel with it. Most are powered with a Universal Series Bus (USB) connector. You may also want to consider purchasing a USB hub for all external accessories.

Sound Libraries

Although not essential for getting started, investing in a quality sound library for your instrument playback will make the music more realistic, ultimately enhancing the creative experience. You can choose from many kinds of sound libraries, and they are often specialized by instrument section, such as brass/woodwind, percussion, etc.

Headphones and Studio Monitors

In order to get the full experience of your playback, quality headphones and/or studio monitors will make your output clearer, more professional, and ultimately make the experience much more enjoyable.

About author

Adam Wiencken

Adam Wiencken is the percussion specialist for Broken Arrow (Oklahoma) Public Schools and the battery arranger for the Spirit of Atlanta Drum and Bugle Corps. He is an alumnus of the Madison Scouts and The Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps. He is a Yamaha Performing Artist and an educational artist for Innovative Percussion Inc., Remo drumheads, Zildjian cymbals, and MEINL Percussion.

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