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, 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 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.

Some Macs do not have a wired Ethernet port, but it is recommended. 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 NotePad - - this FREE software, which everyone should have is an introductory version of the full featured Finale 2014.


* Finale 2014 - - 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, and 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.

REQUIRED for recording (MUSC219 and other classes)

• Apple GarageBand 10.1.1 - This probably is included at no extra cost as a part of the iLife suite of apps if you purchase a new Mac. If not, you can download GarageBand from the Mac App Store.

• iTunes 12.3.3 will also be included if you purchase a new Mac. If not, download it for free from

• Audacity 2.1.2 - Free, open-source multitrack recording software can be downloaded at


• Every student will need word processing and other basic software packages. Probably the most popular is Microsoft Office 2011 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 2011 and Finale 2014 are,, or other educational discount software stores.