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Software share-out

A SECONDARY school in Cambridge has decided to make sophisticated software for composing and arranging music available for the first time to students who are not doing GCSE music.

Alastair Wells, head of ICT at Netherhall School, is giving students the opportunity to use the Sibelius software as part of their Key Skills portfolio, which encompasses graphics, desktop publishing and music. Students are expected to put together a broad-ranging portfolio of work that combines text with images and number. The software has been installed across the school's network.

Those who have not taken GCSE music but enjoy composing their own tunes for, among other things, their mobile phone ring tones, will be able to use Sibelius software from September.

"Composition s always popular, whether pupils are studying for GCSE or just want to write new tunes for their band," says Alastair Wells. "It has been difficult to timetable sessions in the music department that would allow everyone to use Sibelius as much as they want. Now it is on the network, access is almost limitless. It allows pupils to experiment with as many instrumental sounds as they want and offers instant playback, which feeds their enthusiasm for learning ICT."

The programme will transcribe music played through MIDI (musical instruments digital interface) or will play back music after the notes have been plotted into it.

The school, which has 25 students studying GCSE music this year, is hoping that many more will take advantage of the software.

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