While I'm tone deaf and struggle to hold a note, I do appreciate well-composed, beautiful music. In the past the only high-end music composition package I've been aware of has been Sibelius, but at more than NZ$1000 a seat it's too expensive to have large groups of students discovering if they are the next Douglas Lilburn or Dave Dobbyn or not. Even if the school could afford it, shelling out another NZ$1000 to be able to tinker at home in the basement is just too much of a barrier for most students. Which is why I'm thrilled to have discovered Musescore. It's open source, multi-platform and powerful enough to meet the needs of even the most intricate of compositions. What did we do with the money we saved in software licences? We bought 18 new desktop computers to allow even more students to see if they've got a gift for song-writing.
...and as with most open source projects, free software means a large user base and a large community offering support and producing help documentation. Here's Musescore in 10 easy steps.