Computers for Music Majors


Since the Fall of 1998 Longwood has implemented an aggressive student laptop program. From that date forward all freshmen were required to have a laptop computer at Longwood.

What this means for Music Majors

Certainly in the world of music recording and MIDI, the Apple Macintosh is the platform of choice. While obviously a generalization, often musicians 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 use the Macintosh. While the University also has a program with Dell to sell laptop computers, we have had many students in the past say they wished they had bought a Mac instead of the Dell. Our department agrees, and we recommend that students planning on studying in the music department purchase an Apple Macintosh laptop. There are positives and a negative to this.


    •    Students will have the ability to work with their laptop on class projects when the lab is not open or is unavailable because a class is being held.

    •    The Macintosh can do anything the Dell can do–Email, Internet, Powerpoint, Word and Excel. It also works best with the recording and loop construction software used in MUSC 119, the arranging projects in MUSC 412 and 444, and many other assignments and projects throughout the student’s music career.

    •    The Macintosh is much less vulnerable to viruses, although not completely safe.

    •    As a Music major, you will use your Apple more than you would use your Dell for music notation, audio and MIDI recording, loop composition, intelligent accompanist software and CD and DVD listening, watching and burning.


    •    You have to purchase your Apple and the software, and, while it is greatly improving, there is less tech support on campus. We strongly recommend purchasing the AppleCare extended warranty which is required to receive the education store discounted prices.

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

If I want to buy a Mac, what would you recommend?

The computer industry is always changing, and it is virtually impossible for anyone to keep up with the changes. Any new computer that Apple current 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. For more details about purchasing a laptop 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 have become very popular devices, but at this time they do not have the capabilities we require for the music classes.

Software recommendations

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


Apple iLife ’11 (including iPhoto, GarageBand, and iMovie) probably is included at no extra cost if you purchase a new Mac. If not, you should purchase GarageBand for download from the Apple App Store.

• iTunes 11.0.3 will also be included if you purchase a new Mac. If not, it can be downloaded for free from

Microsoft Office 2011 Home and Student Edition (including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Entourage and Messenger) - can often be purchased at a discount if bought at the same time as the computer.

Finale NotePad 2012 - this FREE software is an introductory version of the full featured Finale 2012. Everyone should have this software. Finale and Finale NotePad are both available for both Mac and PC, and files are easily interchangeable.


Finale 2012 - - music notation software. All computers in the Wygal MIDI Lab have Finale already installed. Finale can be purchased at a much reduced price by using the purchase code which is included with the workbook that students will use in Music Theory (MUSC113) class.

Other possible sources of Office 2011 and Finale 2012 are, or other educational discount software stores.