MIDI Programs/Equipment

As mentioned previously, both Finale and Sibelius will work as midi playback options.  Those programs usually install the excellent “Garritan” sound set with normal installation.  You will not need to hook up a synthesizer to the computer, but you will need to add good external speakers.  Garage Band (Apple) also is able to import midi files.  If you do not have Finale, Sibelius, or Garage Band, below is a list of other options that are less expensive and created specifically for playing and recording midi files.  Since your computer most likely already has a basic sound card, all you need is the computer, the midi playback program, and a decent set of speakers.

MIDI Players:
This is a type of program that will play back midi files, but you cannot record or make your own midi files.  However, they are very easy to use and serve this purpose very well.  My favorite is Sweet MIDI Player.  Not only can it play back midi files with all the control you ever need, you can easily make your own custom MP3 files that your students can pop in the CD player and practice with.  This is a program I have used to make the recordings for my students.  Super, super easy to use!  It is compatible with Mac and Windows, and is only $30.  They also offer a “Sweet MIDI Sequencer” for Windows that is also only $30.  For folks that purchased the MP3 versions, this same company makes the “Amazing X Slow Downer”.  You can slow down the MP3 file without changing the pitch.  They even have an app for the iPhone/iPod/iPad!  Fabulous!

MIDI Sequencers:
This type of program will play back midi files, and you will also be able to create your own by connecting a digital piano or synthesizer to the computer with either midi cables or USB cables.  For years I used Master Tracks Pro.  They are no longer supporting Macs, but do well with Windows.  They have an Educator price at $60.

I now use a program called Metro because it is much more stable in Mac OS X.  It is now cross-platform, available for both Mac & PC.  There are different levels you can purchase.  Each higher level gives you more features, and yes a higher price.  Metro SE is $35, Metro LX is $100, and Metro is $300.  

For Windows users, an entry-level product might be PowerTracks.  It starts at $50.  I have not used it, but have received several recommendations.

Clicking this link will take you to the Sweetwater online store and give you a list of sequencing products sorted by price.  From there, you can visit some websites, try some demos, and make a choice!  Most midi sequencers on the market today also record digital audio (you’ll need a USB microphone) which may help you out when making Opus recordings!  No matter what you do, there will be a learning curve, so don’t wait until recording day!!

Your favorite music retailer may also have recommendations for you!

Digital Pianos and Synthesizers:
There are many digital pianos and synthesizers on the market today that include an onboard sequencer.  They give you the ability to both play and create midi files.  The capabilities, procedures for use, and specifications vary widely from one manufacturer to another and one model to another.  It is best to examine your owners manual to see what your keyboard’s capabilities are and try it out with the sample midi file found on the Samples page.  If you are looking to purchase a keyboard, begin your search at a website such as Musician’s Friend, then go to your school music retailer for additional help.  At home, I use a Roland RD-700SX, and at school, a Roland Fantom G8. 

© Michael Blair 2018