A quick guide to note entry methods in Sibelius


Part of Sibelius’s appeal is how intuitive it is to use. Within a few moments of launching Sibelius for the first time, a new user can start creating music.

Another appealing thing is that there are often many ways to accomplish the same task. Sometimes, though, we tend to stick with how we first learned to do something, even if there is a more efficient method.

Take note entry, for example. In one of my training sessions, I was surprised to learn that a participant had entered an entire orchestral score by using the mouse, and that learning about step-time note entry was revelatory for her.

The Quick Guide to Sibelius Note EntryIn that spirit, Katie Wardrobe of Midnight Music has created “The Quick Guide to Sibelius Note Entry” and has generously made it available for free download from her site. She clearly explains the different note entry options available in Sibelius, and also includes a helpful video tutorial with details about using Flexi-time.

Katie promises two more free Sibelius guides coming later this month, so be on the lookout for what will surely be useful information.


  1. Bob Zawalich

    Thanks for making this information available in such a concise form.

    I note that for step-time input in Sibelius 7, there is also the “Finale-style” option to “Specify Pitch, then duration”, rather than the traditional Sibelius “Specify duration, then pitch”.

    Many people find this easier, especially if you come from Finale, or want to enter a lot of varied durations and then repitch.

    This is set up in File > Preferences > Note Input > Specify Pitch, then duration.

  2. Dave P-B

    Fantastic Katie

  3. Katie

    Thanks Bob and Dave!

    Bob – good thinking. I’ll add that in on the next revision of the guide.


  4. Dave Markivee

    Kate, I enjoy your videos but I seem to have a particular issue I’m having trouble resolving. I’m using the latest version of Sibelius 8 (2023.5) and I’m trying use “step” midi entry using an M-Audio AxiomPro 49 key MIDI keyboard.

    My MIDI interface settings seem to be ok as I can test inside Sibelius with the keyboard and the light comes on when I play. When I am trying to enter notes in a composition, I hear the playback of the note and I see the cursor changing to the note type selected. The only thing that is not occurring is that the note does not get entered into the manuscript. Weird, huh?

    I tried Flex input that works correctly, however there is quite a bit of latency when entering notes. I’d like to be able to use Flex entry but I’m more interested in fixing the step entry problem first. Any ideas?

    1. Dave Markivee

      Update: I changed a setting in File, Preferences, Note Input that seems to have affected the Step Entry process. I changed “When inputting notes” to “Specify duration, then pitch”, and that let’s me input notes in Step Entry mode. Doesn’t make sense to me but it worked.

      1. Katie

        Glad you worked it out Dave!

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