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I'm SO excited about this newsletter issue because we are finally sharing our APP DEMO with you!  We haven't yet released it to the public, but we're thrilled to share it first with you, our Noteful community.

We are busy doing internal testing, so things are getting pretty exciting.  You know you're getting to a fun stage when “work” means lying on the couch and playing with the app you've helped to create!  OK, don't get me wrong--there's still a lot of other work going on, but it definitely feels like we're at a turning point of having an actual product, even if it's not yet fine-tuned and polished.  Right now we are shooting for the end of August to launch the beta, so if you're signed up to be a beta tester, you can expect things to start ramping up around that time.   Not signed up, but you want to be?  Join the Noteful beta tester team.

Over the last month we've been onboarding our summer interns who are already contributing greatly in the progress towards launch-date.  

Thank you again for your enthusiastic support of our project and mission!  Don't forget to follow Ed on social media. :-)  
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Becky Billock
CEO & Co-founder | Noteful LLC


It’s been a whirlwind at Noteful since our last newsletter in February.  If you’re new to the Noteful community, welcome!  We remain excited about our mission of bringing fun and accessible music education directly to your smartphone or tablet.  We can't wait for you to have the chance to improve your ear, and learn to recognize notes on the staff with more ease.


First in the news is that we are now officially incorporated as Noteful LLC!   This means we are legit, and can do fancy stuff like pay taxes and whatnot.

We’ve made significant progress towards the beta version of the Noteful app.  Just this past week we had a very exciting moment when our team members were able to get a working version of Noteful on our phones in order to begin internal testing prior to the beta round.  ​Speaking of beta testing, we will be organizing our beta round over the next month.  Each tester will receive a link to complete a basic registration form, answering a few questions that will allow us to better process the feedback that we receive during the testing.  I’ll take this opportunity to give a huge shout out to all of you on our mailing list who signed up as testers.  You are our heroes!   And if you didn’t sign up as a tester but you want to…. you still can do so until the remaining spots are filled! 

If the word “test” brings back bad memories of high school math class, don’t be alarmed.  Being a beta tester mostly means that you get access to play with the app before anyone else.  We will need testers who are complete music novices as well as others who are professional musicians, plus everything in between.  So don’t let your experience–or lack thereof–deter you from signing up!  We will also have some fun perks and incentives for this special group of people.  

After the beta round we are planning a gradual onboarding of users at launch time in order to ensure a quality experience.  Those of you on our mailing list will get first dibs on the waiting list and then we will add people incrementally as we are able. 

In other news, we will be officially releasing our app demo to you soon!  We’re waiting to post and promote it publicly until we are closer to the public launch, but we plan to share it with our Noteful community–in other words, with you!–prior to that time.  Here’s a sneak preview of a few scenes from the demo.  



  • Jonathan has gotten nearly all the templates functioning that are slated to ship with the first version of the app.  He has deployed the app to both Android and iOS.​

  • Jamie has implemented a gorgeous keyboard (much prettier than the one pictured in the app demo!)

  •  Paul  transitioned our database to a dedicated Noteful development server, and has updated many features to our interfaces that help our processes to run more efficiently.  

  • Bradley has created a code pipeline that we will be using to generate much of the app’s content, based on carefully created lesson structures.

  • Becky has been creating the lesson structures for Bradley’s code pipeline, as well as preparing for the beta round and launch.

Other team members

  • Shalini, Kelly, Ahana, and Neely (our HCI team at Carnegie Mellon University) have nearly completed a hi-fi prototype of a student/teacher interface for the Noteful app.

  • Christian has been engraving musical examples for the app, and will be joining us as a full-time intern this summer.

  • Nico has been creating podcast episodes as companion material to the content in the early levels of the app.

  • Lyn has been crocheting versions of our mascot, Ed.  

  • Hudson will be joining the team in a few weeks as a full-time intern over the summer to contribute to the software development.

Learn more about each of our team members on our Noteful Facebook page.

Be Noteful.  Every day.

Becky Billock
CEO & Co-founder
Noteful LLC



Dear Noteful community,                                      

We’re barely into 2022, but a lot has happened at Noteful in these first few months of the year.

Back in November we got word that Noteful was a recipient of a Creative Entrepreneur Grant from the Pittsburgh Partners in the Arts.  We’ve been putting those funds to use in a couple of important ways.  


The first is to hire composer/sound engineer Curtis Dahl to add the audio component to our app demo (coming soon!)  Curtis is responsible for engineering, editing, and producing every recording that I’ve released during my career, so I trust him implicitly with this project, and can’t wait for you to hear what he is coming up with!  

The second is that we’ve contracted rock/classical/jazz musician and music educator Nico Sleator to create a podcast that will flesh out and complement the content in the Noteful app.  A little trivia for you is that Nico was my piano student for many years prior to going off and becoming a rock star.  It’s so fun to be able to incorporate his expertise into what we are building here at Noteful.  Right now the plan is to launch the podcast just prior to launching the app, so stay tuned for details!


Behind the scenes on the app construction, Jonathan Aldrich is now working full time on the project and huge new chunks of the app are shaping up every single week.  We got some important features working just this week, such as our keyboard display (thanks to Jamie Quishenberry’s work), and some critical aspects of the audio component.  Bradley and Paul are still collaborating diligently with me to simplify and speed up the content creation process.

We have some very skilled students who are working hard for Noteful right now as well.  One of my college piano students, Christian Abbott (a piano and computer science double major), has been working on helping to create content for Noteful.  We also have a very capable team from the Human Computer Interaction department at CMU who are delving into creating a student/teacher interface for the app.


By now you may have met Ed, the trusty Noteful mascot (if you haven’t, then by all means, you need to meet Ed!)  Our friend Karen Hay, who is a crochet designer/editor extraordinaire (and 
also married to our team member Bradley Schmerl) designed a real Ed, that you can actually hug and cuddle and who will listen to all your note-reading woes.  For the record, you can talk to the animated Ed, too, but the physical version of Ed just *might* be a bit more sympathetic.  My parents, who are both skilled fiber artists in their own right, have agreed to crochet up this bad boy using Karen’s pattern.  Be on the lookout for opportunities to get your very own Ed!  Just beware:  sometimes he’s hard to find, as he tends to blend into his natural habitat.  

Be Noteful, every day!

Becky Billock 
Noteful CEO and Co-founder

Stay connected on social media:  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

December 2021


Noteful Newsletter

Dear Noteful community,                                      

It’s hard to believe that 2021 is coming to a close.  It has been a whirlwind year and I want to thank each of you for your interest and enthusiasm in the Noteful project.  It was just over one year ago–while isolating due to the COVID-19 pandemic–that I had the idea to create a free and fun “Duolingo-esque” app for learning music theory.  Having music as an integral part of our household during the lockdown meant so much to our family, and it occurred to me that people who were able to enjoy music-making had an easier time with the new normal that we suddenly found ourselves in.  Noteful’s mission remains to bring quality music education and the magic of music to everyone!  We believe that through our free app, in addition to educational outreach programs, we can provide new, fun, and engaging opportunities for a wide array of music enthusiasts and students, as well as great tools for music educators.

My first ideas for the app were sketched out in a green wide-ruled composition notebook which I toted around with me in order to brainstorm on the fly.  A little over a year later, we are now a team of five spread across the US, so paper notebooks don’t quite cut it anymore.  But I’m getting ahead of myself!  

Here’s our year in review:

October 2020

  • Lightbulb moment for the Noteful app concept

November 2020

  • Name chosen and domain name nailed down:

December 2020

  • Partnered with Jamie Quishenberry (developer) and with Jonathan Aldrich as a consultant.

February 2021

  • Started working with our wonderful mentor Olga Pagoda at Project Olympus (a startup incubator program which is part of the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University).

March 2021

  • Market research (over 100 interviews with music teachers, students, and adult amateur musicians)

April to June  2021

  • Fine-tuned the structure of the app content and concept

  • Created our trusty mascot, Ed the Zebra!  Meet Ed here (25-second video)

July 2021

  • Noteful Retreat at Mount Baker: working, hiking, eating lots of blueberries!

August 2021          

  • Paul Billock (my brother!) came on board to design, build, and manage our database.

September 2021 

  • Created a clickable prototype for the app, started sharing and getting feedback

  • Launched company website at

  • Launched our social media suite (@benoteful on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

  • Coined the acronym FRESH Theory to organize content in the app.


October 2021

  • Jonathan Aldrich (software engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University, who also happens to be my husband) was added officially to the team as our Chief Technical Officer (he will have a supported leave from CMU during spring semester 2022 in order to work on Noteful full time!) 

  • Launched the #dailyintervalchallenge on Instagram (@benoteful).

  • Launched the blog on our company website

  • Started receiving beta tester interest requests from people all over the world, including an entire music school in New Zealand!

November 2021      

  • Bradley Schmerl (a systems scientist at CMU) joined the Noteful team and has been helping to explode the speed at which we can generate content for the app.

  • Received a Creative Entrepreneur Grant from the Pittsburgh Partners in the Arts.

December 2021

  • Noteful was chosen as a partner/client for the Human Computer Interaction Capstone Project at Carnegie Mellon University.  In January 2022 we will be welcoming a team of four to five CMU masters students to work on Noteful’s student/teacher interface so teachers can assign work and track student progress within the app. 

It’s pretty remarkable to look back and see how much has transpired in this relatively short amount of time.  I’m grateful every day for this amazing team that is working with me and shares my vision for what we can accomplish.  (Meet the whole gang here!)  Our team members span the entire US geographically, so we end up working and connecting with each other at odd hours to avoid conflicts with the time difference and full time job schedules, but we have been thriving nonetheless.  We will have an app demo to share with you very soon, and we have other exciting developments in the pipeline which I hope to be able to share and celebrate in the next newsletter.  If you have friends and family who would be interested in our project, please direct them to our social media platforms, and to the signup form for our newsletter and our beta tester team.  (We will need beta testers that are experienced musicians as well as complete novices–and all the space in between–so really anyone who is interested is eligible.  Get in here!)  We are also actively seeking a team member with marketing expertise.  The value of your help in spreading the word about our project cannot be overstated and our whole team thanks you in advance!

The past few years have been challenging for humans in every way imaginable.  With Noteful, we hope to bring the comfort, joy, and inspiration of music making into more homes and lives in 2022.  

Be Noteful, every day!

Becky Billock 
Noteful CEO and Co-founder

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