SongWriter 2012 from MakeMusic is an entry level notation program that still has a lot to offer in terms of professional looking output. The maximum number of staves is capped at eight, so a Wagnerian type score won't fit. But for band arrangements, small orchestral pieces and the like, the program has much to offer.
A setup wizard helps in defining the instrumentation and from there notes can be entered real-time via a MIDI keyboard (a MIDI interface is required on the computer), via the computer keyboard or by clicking the mouse. Collaboration with other partners is a breeze with the software being able to open files made by the entire family of Finale software, as well as import MIDI and MusicXML files created by hundreds of other products.
Using the Human Playback feature along with the software instruments, the composer or arranger can immediately hear the finished product, and edit to taste. Harmonization and a Drum Groove feature add usefulness to the program. An integrated mixer allows for shaping the sonic space surrounding the music with control over reverb, panning, balance, and more.
Sharing projects is easy due to the large format support of the program that includes both audio and printed export. Students can be guided with the included music education worksheets. And if at any point there are questions, SongWriter includes QuickStart Videos and other resources, right in the Launch Window.