Below is a selected list of low-budget music teaching and creation resources compiled in February 2013 and updated in 2023. The list is still useful as many of these titles are still available but with updated and enhanced version. I've attempted to remove any that are no longer available. Check the products website for most accurate pricing, especially academic pricing.

When do you need the power of a desktop or laptop computer in place of a smartphone or tablet?

  • Pro-level music software
  • Classroom management of instruction or creative work
  • Processing power, lots of RAM and harddrive or SSD storage
  • Multiple USB, Firewire, or Thunderbolt ports for music peripherals
  • Larger screen display area
  • Standard work area with keyboard & mouse


  1. Finale NotePad (Mac/Win) Free
  2. Sibelius First (Mac/Win) Free, Artist $10/month
  3. MuseScore Free
  4. SmartMusic (now integrated into MakeMusic Cloud) Individual Performer $30/yr; Teachers $40/yr
  5. Chromatik (store, record & share scores online) Free along with iPad app
  6. Also consider Notion, Dorico, and web-based Flat

Elementary/General Music

  1. Free or membership-based websites like PBS Music Games, Teoria: Music Theory Web (another long-standing, comprehensive set of online materials) (Web/iPad) Free or $4 iPad
  2. Rising Software Auralia and Musition (Mac/Win)
  3. MDecks GarageBand (Mac/iPad) Free with any Mac device
  4. Abelton Live Intro (Mac/Win) $50

Audio Editing and Recording

  1. Soundation DAW: Comprehensive online digital audio editor (Web) Free or $99/year for more loops, sounds and storage. Free or $60/year
  2. Abelton Live 11 Intro $59 academic
  3. Sibelius Ultimate $99/year academic
  4. MakeMusic Finale V27 $99 academic
  5. PreSonus Sphere (package with Studio One Pro, Notion, large library of sound packages and plug-ins) $165/year

Interesting Trends!

  1. music software delivery (see below); Xonami collaborative multitrack apps using Cubasis, Notion, Castiv Drum & Guitar Sidekick, AirTurn pedals, Melodyne (e.g., Zynaptiq's 30+ years: Artiphon's Instrument 1 (cloud-based licensing of standard music education apps; price covers all students, home or school with more apps coming). Note: this is a new commercial project so anticipate that product options and pricing my change.  Visit the MusicFirst website for information on all the products below.  All can be bundled in various ways within the MusicFirst Classroom integrated learning management system (compatible with Google Classroom).

  1. Creativity: Soundtrap for Education, O-Generator, Focus on Sound
  2. Notation: Noteflight, Flat
  3. Performance Ensembles: PracticeFirst, Sight Reding Factory, Focus on Sound
  4. Music Theory: Auralia, Munition, Focus on Sound
  5. Elementary: Cool4School, Hyperscore, MusicplayOnline

Music Educator's Websites

  1. MusicEd Tech (Barbara Freedman's site, music teacher at Greenwich H.S. in Connecticut)
  2. (Andy Ritenour and others share insights and materials on their blog from technology to the music classroom as music majors in music education)
  3. (Dave Williams and Rick Dammers website for "The Other 80%." Reaching students through technology based creativity classes and activities)
  4. MusicTech Magazine (issues plus articles plus MusicTech Focus specials in depth on music software)
  5. TI:ME (Technology Institute for Music Education) organization website with many, many resources. Join and get full access to the website and more.

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