a couple of questions

I've been putting off buying Sibelius and Virtual Drumline for a few years now, but I'm finally going to buy it in the next few months. I just have a few things I'd like to clear up.

1. I have a macbook 2.0 ghz with 1gig of ram. I'm updating the ram to 2 gigs whenever I buy Sibelius. According to all the requirements that should be enough, but is it really?

2. Sibelius 5 has some of Virtual Drumline obviously but is it enough to satisfy me? I'll mostly be doing arranging for lines.

3. The midi keyboard. I know most of you have it. Is it worth buying and can I get some insight into how it's used? I've looked for explanation but haven't had any luck.

I think that's all I had in mind. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
1. 2 GB RAM worked well for me (I'm 3 GB now), but it took a little tweaking of each sample (not hard to figure out after you get a handle on it). I ran into problems when I tried to do full pit, battery, AND winds (Garritan Marching Band).

2. Definitely buy the full version, a lot more variety of sounds.

3. The MIDI keyboard is crucial to enter VDL data. For example, snareline right hand is entered with G#, and the left is F#. Entering a paradiddle is no problem when you can just tap between the two black keys. Each octave triggers a different sound, so it is WAY less complicated with a MIDI keyboard. If you're using Mac, you can get VDLMIDI somewhere on this site (do a search) to get you started. Personally, I can't begin to imagine life WITHOUT a MIDI keyboard. You can get a pretty good one in the $100 range. Before I bought the one I have (Keystation 49e and Oxygen O2), I used my old $50 Casio keyboard that just happened to have MIDI on it!

I got a screaming kid to tend to, I'll try to post again if you need more info!

1. I agree that 2 GB is enough, especially if you only write for battery.  If you write for pit+battery, you will still be ok if you use ";lite"; instruments.  Also, If you are writing for 4 Marimbas and 3 Vibes, you can get away with only loading samples for 2 marimbas and 1 vibes.  Only the fastest desktops can handle a full band+battery+pit. 

2. I was surprised by how many VDL sounds were included with Sibelius 5.  I think it's enough for a battery arranger, but won't cover all of the possibilities for front ensemble sounds.

3. Just because you might writing for a single space on the staff for a snare drum, you will be doing many different things with the keyboard to get the best realism.  You can get a good M-Audio 49-key model for under $100.  Here's a snare keyboard to show why you need a MIDI keyboard. 

Yeah that makes it a lot more clear with the midi keyboard. So if you have like a triplet roll in a bar and some sixteenth notes in the same bar, how do you distinguish the triplets from the sixteenths? Do you just manually do it in Sibelius?

I forgot to ask this too. I'll be purchasing the academic version of Sibelius. This is probably not the best place to ask, but how does tapspace go about getting my academic credentials proving I am a student?

Oh and after looking at that diagram, I'm thinking the midi board with the most keys is the way to go. Or does it matter?
Sibelius will allow you to set which rhythms you're entering, whether it be eighth notes, sixteenths, tuplets, or any variation in between. That's basic functionality of the notation program.

You won't have to verify your academic credentials with Tapspace if you purchase the Academic version of Sibelius from there. You just buy that version, and then the academic verification occurs when you register your software. There's a form you must fill out and supply to them that gives some information about the school you attend (or teach at). It's not a long form and generally gets confirmed very quickly.

The benefit of using a MIDI keyboard with a larger range is that you won't have to shift octaves. You can, however, still work just fine with a small keyboard. It just means that you'll have to manually shift octaves up/down on the MIDI keyboard before entering certain notes. I might recommend you check out the keystation 49e. It gives you four octaves which will serve you pretty well for much of the sounds, and won't require a ton of octave shifting. It's also very reasonably priced.

You're doing the right thing by asking questions in advance and starting to wrap your brain around everything. You'll be learning several new things at once, so be patient, taking things one step at at time, and I'm sure you'll have good results. Your machine sounds like it should do well, especially once you update the RAM.
Let me try to specify what I meant about the different rhythms. With just Sibelius, you manually enter each note. Now with the midi board, each note on the board represents a specific notation which Sibelius reads like a roll or shot. What I was trying to ask is if you want a bar with mixed duple and triple rhythms, do you have to make the triplet a triplet on Sibelius? Or can you just tap the rhythm you want on the midi board? This is what I'm trying to grasp.

As for the patience comment Jim, I've definitely learned plenty of it. My first notation software was Finale 2.0. haha. I used that during middle school and some of high school, but finally concluded that it wasn't worth the effort.

Also, I'm a non-music major in college right now so would I qualify for the academic version? I may do a music minor though.

Thanks for all the help.
As long as you're a student (any old student), you're good to go, so no worries there.

I understand what you meant about rhythms. Don't think in terms of playing rhythms in ";live."; Rather, you'd A) select the rhythm you're about to input, the B) click the pitch on the midi keyboard to determine which sound is triggered. Once you click the midi keyboard pitch, the note is placed into your selected staff in Sibelius. You do this for each note as you go. Sometimes this is called ";step entry."; As for diddles, these are also added in Sibelius (in that program, they're actually called ";tremolos";). Adding a single slash to any note in Sibelius will make that note play a double stroke.
hey guys i'm back with another question. so i'm wanting to get a keyboard to continue my efforts in learning piano. right now i'm interested in some of the digital pianos like http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Casio-Privia-PX200-88-Key-Weighted-Slab-Piano?sku=700919 . (i just found a random one to use for an example.) most of these have the usb port and midi. my question is would a keyboard like this work just as well in sibelius as a midi keyboard like the ones tapspace sells?
Yes, it will work fine- assuming you have room to put it right next to your computer.  You'll want one hand on the keys and one hand on the numeric keypad when entering notes. 
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