Computers for Music Majors


All entering Longwood University freshmen and transfer students are required to have a laptop computer.

What this means for Music Majors

Certainly in the world of music publishing, recording and MIDI, the Apple Macintosh is the platform of choice. While obviously a generalization, musicians often prefer the Macintosh because of its design, friendly interface, and ease of use. Longwood University's computer music/MIDI lab is a Mac lab, and the faculty in the department uses the Macintosh. In the past there were legitimate concerns about the ability to share files between Mac and PC applications, but that is no longer a problem.

The bottom line is this - if you have a recently built computer of any brand that you will bring to campus, keep it. If you are going to purchase a computer for college, and you know you are going to be a Music Major, buy a Mac laptop.


The computer industry is always changing, and it is virtually impossible for anyone to keep up with the changes. Any new computer that Apple currently sells will work for these musical situations, but you will usually be happier with a faster processor and more memory. Most music students prefer a larger display for music notation projects, but that has to be balanced against the portability of a smaller display.

New Macs do not have a wired Ethernet port, but Thunderbolt and USB adaptors are available or you can connect through Wifi. The same is true of CD/DVD drives. While most Macs do not include one, an external SuperDrive is strongly recommended for music majors. For more details about the university’s recommended computer specifications visit

A printer and a good pair of headphones and/or speakers are also recommended. A music synthesizer is not required, but would be helpful to the student. iPads and other tablets have become very popular devices, but at this time they do not have the capabilities we require for the music classes.

Software (Listed are the current versions which may, and probably will, be updated at any time)

REQUIRED for music notation (MUSC119 and other classes)

* Finale - - music notation software. All computers in the Wygal MIDI Lab have Finale already installed. Do NOT pay the full retail price for Finale. Student discounts are available.

REQUIRED for recording (MUSC219 and other classes)

• Apple GarageBand 10.1.6 - This probably is included at no extra cost if you purchase a new Mac. If not, you can download GarageBand from the Mac App Store.

• iTunes 12.6 will also be included if you purchase a new Mac. If not, download it for free from

• Audacity 2.1.3 - Free, open-source multitrack recording software can be downloaded at

OTHER SOFTWARE - Every student will need word processing and other basic software packages.

Office 365

Students are eligible for a free download of Microsoft Office 365 via their Longwood Live Mail account. To access the software, students should log on to Live Mail account and select the Office 365 tab at the top of the screen. Please note that that the software is available to current students only and that access will be removed upon graduation.

Probably the most popular package is Microsoft Office 2016 Home and Student Edition (including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Entourage and Messenger), which can often be purchased at a discount if bought at the same time as the computer. Other possible sources of Office 2016 and Finale are,, or other educational discount software stores.