Annotation in literacy

Annotation is a strategy in which the reader jots responses, observations, or questions about a text physically into the text itself.  This can be done in the margins of the text, on sticky notes placed in the text, or through annotation programs if the text is digital.  This provides insight into the reader's thought process, allows for real time reaction to a text, and can be used to advance more formal responses from the reader.

Annotation in music

Annotation looks very similar to traditional annotation when used with sheet music.  It is a common practice for musicians to make markings in their music about performance reminders (e.g. accidentals, rhythm patterns, stylistic markers, etc.).  The same practice can be used as a tool for critical and affective response to printed sheet music.  The student can write questions about the purpose of specific parts, the intentions of the composer, and responses to their observations of the music in the process of reading the sheet music. Sticky notes can be particularly useful for this, as they can be removed to allow for the music to be performed more easily. These annotations then can be used to inform musical decision making by the students and creating a comprehensive understanding of the music not only as a piece to be performed but as a piece of art to which to respond.

Annotation can also be used in recordings.  Free software, such as Audacity  and Filmora, allow students to insert text markers within audio and video recordings that can include annotations of musical performances in the same way that this is done with print annotation.


These annotations can be used as observations and discussion points on their own or they may be used to support more formal responses that can include altered music performances, critical responses,  or rehearsal plans.

Additional resources

AP Central

Read, Write, Think