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You can input in various ways, and all of these methods are available simultaneously - you don't need to pick one or the other.
The basic rule is that whatever input method you use, a symbol will be entered in the active staff at the current insertion point only if you have chosen a note or other symbol. If the cursor is the arrow tool the appropriate key will highlight on the screen piano but no symbol will be entered in the staff. So if you want to just play but not enter notes, choose the arrow tool.
You can enter notes directly on the staff, or indirectly by playing notes on the screen piano, letter keys, external MIDI keyboard, or even the microphone. Don't forget using copy-and-paste. Even if a copied passage is only similar to another you can often save time by using the up and down arrow keys to move a selected passage up or down by step.
Input directly on the staff using the mouse
Choose a note or rest tool by clicking on the appropriate tool box and then click in the staff where you want it to go. Note that there are some very useful keyboard shortcuts to change the value of the note or rest, or to add or remove an accidental or dot, without having to click again on a tool. Clicking a symbol tool into a staff (or clicking any symbol in that staff with the arrow tool) causes that staff to become the active staff that would receive input from letter keys or MIDI or the microphone.
Input via the screen piano or fretboard
You can play notes by clicking the mouse on the keys of the onscreen piano (or the onscreen fretboard).
The menu in Options/Keyboard has a number of choices that include a plain piano, a fretboard like that of a guitar, a piano with labeled keys, and the "enharmonic" keyboard whose keys are divided into specific sharps or flats.
The piano keyboards have a range of four octaves, but you can move the range up or down an octave by pressing the period and comma keys on your computer's letter keyboard. A small yellow triangle above the piano keys will mark the current position of "middle c," the c that is between the treble and bass clefs.
Input via the letter keys
Your computer's letter keys act like a simple piano in Counterpointer. The middle row represents the white keys beginning on c, and the upper row provides the black keys. The letters "f" and "g" just happen to come out playing the notes f and g (pure coincidence). The "w" key would play c#, and so on. The letter keys piano of course has a limited range, but you can move it up or down an octave with the period and comma keys.
Input via MIDI
MIDI (Music Instrument Digital Interface) provides the most convenient method of playing notes into a computer. This doesn't require expensive equipment - for well under $100 you can obtain a small MIDI "controller" keyboard that connects to your computer's USB port. A controller doesn't make sounds of its own but can be used to trigger the sounds of the computer itself. And of course if you happen to have a MIDI device that does make sounds you can use that, too.
MIDI devices will often come with driver software that needs to be installed before they can be used. Remember also that you need to plug in the device and turn it on before starting the program, so that Songworks will notice that the input is available when it's starting up.
If using a MIDI device that is just a controller, be sure to open Counterpointer's Sound/MIDI Settings window (Options menu) and click the box titled "MIDI device is a controller." That tells Counterpointer to play a sound on the output instrument whenever it hears one coming in from the controller.
If you have a MIDI device plugged in when Counterpointer starts, and you haven't changed any of your settings, you should find that you automatically have MIDI input in the program. If you don't, check here for more information.
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