I often get asked about how to scan sheet music with music scanning software. Here is a comment that got posted just the other day: “I have all kinds of sheet music books and a new Digital Piano. I also have a laptop and a scanner. Is there anyway to get the Piano to play the sheet music I have?”
So this just one very common reason for wanting to scan music – and there are a number of other reasons as well:
- Transposing music – you have sheet music in one key and want to easily transpose music to another key. Scan and convert the sheet music so you can then play it back or print it in a different key signature. It is so easy to transpose at the click of a mouse in notation software or any DAW. (See the video below for a quick example).
- Convert sheet music to MIDI – you already have a whole library of printed music. If you could just get it into electronic form then by converting it to MIDI then you could edit, play back, enhance it using any DAW or notation software package. Even change all the instruments!
- Play sheet music back on a digital piano – as in the FAQ above. Lots of you want to scan music so you can play it back, choosing the tempo and other settings, maybe so you can learn how to play the music yourself, or play along with one hand or the other etc. or use it to accompany yourself on another instrument.
- Convert handwritten music into a publishable format.
So there are lots of exciting possibilities available if you can get access to a music scanner.
And yes, it can be done.
Anyone with a computer and a few bits of affordable kit can get great results if they’re prepared to invest the time in learning the basics. I spent a bit of time looking at what is available in an attempt to help you make an informed choice and not spend too much. You can watch my how-to video on music scanning below, or read on for more detail.
*** Note… I have just discovered that the latest version of Finale no longer has scanning capabilities (apparently for copyright reasons). Therefore, if you really want to be able to scan sheet music, choose Sibelius … or stick with Finale 2014.5 or earlier. ***
The most cost effective way to get started is to purchase notation software that already has music scanning built in. If you start with the Lite versions that are included you can learn the basics and then upgrade to the pro version if you need to. For simple scanning of piano scores, you may find the Lite version is all you need. If you are starting with notation software with built-in scanning and looking to spend the minimum amount then choose Avid Sibelius First. If you know that you would like some of the Pro features then you can buy pro versions Sibelius here Avid Sibelius Music Notation Software .
If you are a teacher, student, or work in an academic institution then you can purchase the pro versions at a very beneficial price, for non-commercial use. Do check, before you buy, about if and how you should verify your academic status. You do NOT need to verify any status to purchase the ‘Lite’ version, Sibelius First. They are available to anyone for any kind of use. If you think you do qualify then here is the link for the academic version: Avid Sibelius for Students and Teachers .
Why would you choose the pro version now? If you want to score for large ensembles, make complex compositions with extended fonts, make accurate compositions for video, if you are working day-in, day-out as a musician, teacher or bandmaster then you will probably want to step up to the advanced features.
If you know now that you might want the extended features of the scanning software (for example you want to scan scores with many staves or handwritten music). Then there are also professional versions of the scanning engines featured in Sibelius (Photoscore) and their rival, SmartScore. I would pick the one associated with your preferred notation software to make life easy in future.
As ever, you get what you pay for, and so going Pro will have many advantages. BUT you can always upgrade from the Lite versions, so if you are just starting out spend the minimum and familiarise yourself with the software.
The professional music scanning packages are: PhotoScore Ultimate (nb a lite version of Photoscore is included with Sibelius First and Pro Edition) and SmartScore X2 Pro. There used to be a third option, SharpEye, but this does not appear to have been updated recently so I would stick with the big two.
Best Selling Music Notation And Composition Software
If you want to get even further into the world of music notation and composing music on your computer, then right now the top selling packages are listed below.
Platform: Windows XP / 7 / Vista, Mac OS X
Over To You …
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