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.
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.
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.