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More and more people may be recording songs on their phone these days, but when it comes to composing music, you’ll still want to use a pad of staff paper.
The best staff paper (also referred to as “sheet music paper” or “music manuscript paper”) is comprised of staves, or horizontal lines, that let you write out your notes and rhythms. These sheets can then be used to play your composition, and can also be easily photocopied and distributed, say, for a band or choir to follow along.
Rather than printing out stave paper from the internet, we recommend buying a notebook or notepad of blank staff paper, which is higher in quality than what you’d get out of your printer and far more convenient.
We looked for sheets made of thick, high-quality paper, either in a spiral notebook or as a pad. Both options keep your notes neatly organized and are easy to carry around in your bag. This is an important consideration for students of course, but really for any writer who may want to jot down a piece of music while on the go.
For students who need to turn in music sheets as assignments, or composers who want to share their projects with others, consider a staff paper pad with pages that tear away neatly from the binding. Staff paper with three-punch holes to fit inside a binder are nice, too.
Whether you’re a music theory student needing to jot down an analysis, or a musician creating your next masterpiece, these staff paper pads and music notebooks should be an essential part of your composition toolkit.
1. MAXCURY Blank Sheet Music
This tidy little staff notebook is perfect for music composition, and fits as nicely in a shoulder bag as it does on a piano stand.
This is a 100-page wirebound book, with ten staves per page. We like the high-quality balanced pH paper, which ensures your compositions will stay in tact for a long time. The decorative cover is also a nice touch, just in case you forget what you’re using this paper for (the cover design is also ideal if you’re giving this notebook as a gift).
Pros: High-quality paper and easy to carry around.
Cons: Lines are a little far apart which might make longer compositions trickier.
2. Staff Music Writing Pad
For music students or anyone else who needs or prefers loose sheets to a notebook, we’d recommend this staff paper pad, which is bound at the top like a legal pad. It also comes with handy holes for binders.
These are high-quality music sheets, with clear and evenly-spaced staff lines. Pages tear away neatly and easily, which is ideal if you prefer loose sheets, but can be a nuisance if you’re using the pad notebook style.
Pros: Excellent if you prefer loose sheets to a bound notebook.
Cons: Sheets tear easily; if you aren’t distributing your sheet music or taking them with you on the go, it’s best to stick with a notebook.
3. Standard Wirebound Manuscript Paper
Another handy wirebound notebook, this one’s got 96 sheets and has 12 staves per page rather than ten like the book above. The lines are therefore somewhat closer together while still perfect for visibility from a piano or music stand.
While some people quite like the spacing of this paper, if you’re the type to write notes outside of the standard five lines of the staff, you might find it a bit cramped and difficult.
The paper is quite thick, which we like, specifically because this helps prevent bleeding when you write in the notebook in pen. And because it is spiral bound, the book lays perfectly flat and is easy to flip through while playing your instrument.
Pros: Thick paper and easily visible staff lines, while the notebook is ideal for use while playing.
Cons: Tight spacing makes it difficult to make additional notes outside the given staff.