Notation software is most often used to create printed scores and parts and to assist with the creative process of composing and arranging. It is also used for other applications such as education worksheets and practice materials.

In my Berklee online course Music Notation Using Sibelius, one of the students in the class in the Spring, 2010 semester, Nicholas Alexander Krishnan, used Sibelius to assess his performance of his MIDI keyboard playing. Nicholas is a talented musician who lives in Bloomfield Hill, MI, and has taken several Berklee online courses.

The assignment was to use real-time input in Sibelius, called Flexi-time. Here is how Nicholas used Sibelius. His post to me in the lesson read (posted with his permission):

Hi Tom!

I have been using Sibelius to help with my rehabilitation.

I chose the song, Harvesting The Fields Of Russia, since one of my first assignments was a rehearsal sheet for this song. Since I made that sheet, I have had some issues with my brain function, making it more difficult for me to perform. I am slower with my motor skills. I decided to use Sibelius to help me with fine-tuning my skills.

Using the Flexi-time option, I set the goal for myself to make the Sibelius notation match the original marimba passage before I could move on to another. This was nice, since I could keep trying Flexi-time over and over again while helping me get feedback, both audio and notation, on my motor progress. After all, I rely on muscle memory for playing most of my music.

Sibelius helped make a game out of the long rehearsal hours. I created a very embarrassing sheet of Sibelius notation. This notation shows the five bars of music I was working on until I could master them. That is, when the Sibelius notation matched the five bars in my music. You will see all of the errors made until the last systems.

Nicholas Notation Takes

I had a friend use their iPhone to record a brief clip of the process. On the right is the original music. The Laptop has the Sibelius running, creating the samples like you see in the Sibelius attachment.

I wanted to share this, since it could help other musicians who may need to recover and regain their skills to play music again someday.

On the video clip, you will notice that my fingerings look different.

I play the marimba, so when I practice marimba music on the keyboard, I practice as if I have four mallets in my hands.

It is more like right left right, etc.


Not many of us think of Notation software as a performance feedback tool for practice. It could be used for many, many applications, preparing for performances, practice motor skills and playing rhythms with a metronome. I have had students play in rhythms to get feedback from Sibelius, Finale and other notation software that has real-time MIDI input. There are some other tools that are designed for practice and feedback such as SmartMusic. However, Sibelius can be a handy tool for performance feedback.