One App at a Time: Notability

Best-of-2012_2About a month ago,  Apple listed Notability as the bestselling note-taking app of 2012. Having no idea of Notability's celebrity status, I simply purchased the app because someone had recommended it. Now I find myself staying awake at night figuring out new ways to use this productivity app to its full potential. It has and will continue to change how I organize anything related to my studio from keeping track of student repertoire to worksheets, theory tests, receipts, virtually any document. Notability integrates handwriting, PDF annotation, typing, recording, and organizing all at one place. These features caught my eye immediately because it gave me the ability to:

  1. Download, view and annotate any pdf--worksheets, important documents, etc
  2. Organize them as I please

Here an examples of how I've used the app so far.

Colorado State Practice Theory Tests

To maintain a certain amount of accountability for my students theory knowledge (which is most effectively imagetaught at the keys during lessons with reinforcement at lab time, in my opinion) I decided it would be good for my students to take the Colorado Teachers Music Association Practice Theory Tests and see how many levels they could pass. This would help me determine what to assign next during lab time and to cover gaps in comprehension. The tests include 12 levels totaling 32 pages. Accck, I did not want to print out 40 some copies for my students. So I...

  • created a file "subject" called CSMTA Theory Tests in Notability
  • accessed the tests on line on the iPad via Safari
  • clicked on the link and landed on the first page
  • after tapping on the screen, a menu on the screen pops up asking "Open in iBooks" and another appears "Open In"
  • after tapping on "Open In" one of the choices is Notability
  • tapped on Notability and a screen appears and tapped on "Create a New Note"
  • immediately this places the document in the file labeled "CSMTA Theory Tests"

Once the test was securely in its place, it was easy to make copies in Notability. By tapping and holding my finger on the file, the word "Duplicate" appeared. Tapping on "Duplicate" made a new copy magically appear. Tapping on the "Edit" button on the top left allows you to change the file name. I added a student's name to the copied document. To exit the "Edit" mode I clicked "Done". I did this for every student.

Here's where things get REALLY nifty.

In Notability you can create "Categories" (which look like file folders) and "Subjects" which appear like file headings that can be color-coded easily. So I created a "Category" titled "Students" and then beneath that created a "subject" file for each student family. I color coded these files according to the days the students arrive for lessons so I can find them easily. Ok, just about finished...then I moved a copy of the CSMTA theory tests  with the students name on in the appropriately named file folder.

I know, this sounds like a great deal of work but really, once I figured out the system, it was easy. It has worked like a charm and NO one complained taking the tests on the iPad as they can choose their ink color and zoom in to answer any questions. I saved a tree and now I have a record of these tests all organized and easily accessed. They can also be taken again thanks to the ease with which you can annotate but also erase on pdfs.

photo (3) 2

I'm not finished. If you are reading this blog it means you are also reading others and as you know, most of them offer pdfs. The next blog will provide another specific way in which Notability has become notable and irreplaceable in my studio lab.

One more thing; if you have not seen the Music App Directory at or even if you have, check it out again. I've added new apps and new categories and attempt to keep it up to date. If you see an app that is missing OR a category, please let me know.



Leila's Opinion of  Notability $1.99

Application Potential: 5/5  Like I said above, it is has been hard not to think about new ways to use this app to enhance my teaching and studio needs.

Ability to Use with Ease: 4.5/5 Along with its massive capabilities comes a large learning curve. However, if I can do it, you can too. Also, do not forget to use the support offered at Ginger Labs Web Site.

Assessment of Investment: 5/5 With the amount of trees I can save, this app seems priceless and definitely worth the small price tag.

Total Score: 14.5/15



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