We're about to give online music theory lessons to primary school children and would like advice on notation software to use in the lessons to give real time examples - at the moment we're considering how we can mix real time music notation examples and explanatory text paragraphs that can be provided to students after each lesson. Options include

  1. using sketch software with a digital pen to draw the music and write the text
  2. lilypond - which will look much nicer - however as the examples will grow in complexity, doing it in real time might become a challenge!

Here is an example using lilypond (via Frescobaldi)

\version "2.23.7"
\markup \huge \bold {
  "Lesson 22 April 2022"
\markup \vspace #0.5
\markup {This is missing something!}
\new Staff \with {
     \remove "Time_signature_engraver"
  } \relative {
    f'2 g2

\markup {
  Here it is 😀
\new Staff \relative {
    f'2 g2

Music theory class real time example

3 Answers 3


This is not specifically for music lessons. When I want to use preset materials I save them as a PDF.

Then I can circle things or draw pictures using PDF tools. I find Foxit PDF reader works well for this.

This process is fast enough to do in real time. So you could do several notes using your notation program on your live stream, hit save to PDF and go straight into editing.

If you know ahead of time exactly what changes you'll be making, I recommend saving multiple PDFs because you can open them in tabs and change between tabs very easily.

I'm teaching ESL online and I find this method allows me to repeat lessons very easily by just reusing the same tabs again. I can save the collection of PDFs into a sensibly-named folder for later.


I think abc.js (https://www.abcjs.net) might be a bit easier to write in real-time than lilypond. True, it (obviously) isn't as powerful, but it should be enough for this purpose.

If you're familiar with js it's pretty easy to develop an application which will be tailor made to your needs, but otherwise the standard online editor should do the trick too: https://editor.drawthedots.com

But obviously the more complex the scores get the harder it will be to do in real time, so I think Bennyboy's answer w.r.t. pdf's is definitely valid too.


Here are a few online editors that support teaching:

  • Flat.io
  • Soundslice.com

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