What’s The Best Music Notation Software?

Help! I need some advice/expertise from experienced folks who’ve actually used some of these music notation software programs before. Any insight you can give would be greatly appreciated.

I’m on the hunt for information about the best music notation software, and I’ve been researching online trying to decide the software that is the smartest purchase between these three:

#1 – Sibelius First

Of course the Sibelius First would pop up first on Amazon. It’s got some great customer reviews, but I’m not thrilled about the $90-plus price tag. Also, the conflicting reviews are a little confusing. Some people say that it’s great and easy to figure out with keyboard shortcuts, while others write that it took them a whole hour to do something as simple as changing the playback tempo!

I’m not in the mood to wrestle with some overly complicated and complex software that makes you jump through hoops to perform what should be easy tasks. And I really don’t want to pay nearly "a hundo" for a program that’s very difficult to learn.

#2 – Notion 4

Now this program is looking better in terms of ease of use and understandability, even if the price tag is higher at nearly $100 a pop. It’s not like I want to pay more, but it could be worth it if it saves time – because time is money.

I’ve learned that the interface is supposedly well laid out and that this program is easy to use and understand, so I like that feedback. In fact, I don’t see anything negative about this program at all, which only makes me slightly skeptical and leaves me wondering if there aren’t just a bunch of paid reviews about the product online.

But those customer reviews seem real, with folks raving about what they were able to create when using Notion 4. In fact, one customer went back and amended their original lower rating because they took the time to work with the software and got to know it better, and actually used it to create music.

Perhaps the only stopping point would be the price.

#3 – Forte Notation

I discovered positive feedback about Forte Notation when I read how much a music teacher loved using it to write or compose sheet music that is customized to the students. Also, folks raved about the free version that allowed them to create certain options. Of course, that free version is limited – but heck, it’s free!

The main thing that has me leaning toward Forte Notation is some kind of explanatory documentation titled "Forte in Ten Minutes" that you should be able to download to help you understand how to use the whole thing. I’ve got ten minutes to learn just about anything, so that sounds like my fastest route to getting this sheet music thing downpat.

I feel like I’m one step closer to making my music creation dreams a reality, but I want to make sure I’m getting the best product possible.

What are your thoughts?

Have you been using music notation software– and which one is the best in your experience?