Near the end of this school young, my youngest son, (twelve) came home all excited about a website called Noteflight that was recommended by his music teacher. He was thrilled because he could now go online and compose music.
He was insistent about showing the site to me and I agreed it was very cool and especially great for kids who shared my son’s interest in music.
Noteflight is free to anyone who signs up, though there is a higher level that allows access to more scores as well. That, I admit, is a draw because creating his own music became quite addictive for my son and he soon wanted to do more. And at $49, it’s certainly less expensive than music tutoring.
I contacted the President of NoteFlight, Joseph Berkovitz, who talked to me about the site’s origins, its educational value, and how gratifying it is to know hundreds of thousands of people use Noteflight.
GeekDad: What was the inspiration for Noteflight?
Joseph Berkovitz: A few years ago we saw documents beginning to move into the cloud, making it really easy to share with others or do work from anywhere. When we started thinking about creating sheet music in the cloud, we realized it was a perfect fit: people write music down because they want to share their musical ideas with others. The web is the perfect way to make that sharing happen. It’s a new way of realizing the promise of music notation.
We also saw that an easy-to-learn sheet music tool in a social setting would be outright fun. Noteflight rolls together creativity, entertainment, education and community in a way that engages a lot of kids.
GeekDad: If you had to say what you think is the most valuable part of the site, what would it be?
Berkovitz: I love that I can quickly sketch out a musical idea in Noteflight and instantly let my friends read it, hear it, comment on it. I can even share a score on my blog or on Facebook if I want the whole world as my audience. Musicians have never been able to do something like this before.
GeekDad: I noticed there are different levels of composition, meaning it’s somewhat friendly to someone like me, who learned to read music many years ago and has a very rusty knowledge of notes. What do you think is the most fun for beginners?
Berkovitz: I think the most fun is not to worry about the rules. People have a great time painting or sculpting even if they didn’t go to art school, and music is no different! Play with the software, listen to the sounds you get, discover how things work and learn what sounds good to you. Even very young kids with no training in theory are making amazing music on our site, because they’re using their ears as they experiment. And they’re getting better while they’re doing it.
GeekDad: How many schools are involved in using noteflight? I know they must be aware, as it was my son’s music teacher who sent him to your site?
Berkovitz: We have around 25,000 teachers signed up on Noteflight — so that must amount to a lot of schools. They run the gamut, from elementary schools through colleges and universities.
GeekDad: Of the different types of accounts you offer–individual and the various levels for educators–which would you say is the most popular?
Berkovitz: Individual accounts are definitely more numerous, in the hundreds of thousands. But if you consider the different sizes of audience (there are more individuals out there than teachers) it’s clear that our service is extremely popular with educators. The moment we launched Noteflight, educators were right there, telling each other about it.
By the way, the fact that Noteflight offers a free basic plan is huge. It makes our community inclusive in a way that isn’t otherwise possible.
I think that all of us working on Noteflight see it as the one of most rewarding work experiences of our lives, because we’ve been able to open creative doors for other people, to provide something of real value all over the world. This makes us happy every day.