Guidance on Choosing Notehead Symbols

Having the ability to choose notehead symbols really amounts to being able to significantly adjust the WYSIWYP design to suit the users preferences and needs.  Experimenting with different choices will help you decide what works best for you.  What follows is some general guidance for each.  However, as a general rule, selecting the large notehead size may be the best choice until there is some familiarity with the score regardless of notehead symbol choices.

The SNapp defaults.  These are what is seen when first starting SNapp.  They provide the most visual and intuitive approach that requires the least amount of mental adjustment from what is seen to what is played.  All twelve of the Chromatic scale notes have their own unique vertical location on a staff octave.  Each maps directly to a physical key on a piano keyboard.  The hollow circle represents the naturals.  Sharps and flats are represented by a combination  (combo) notehead,  a black rectangle.  The display invokes the image of a black key on the keyboard.  Each rectangular notehead represents both a sharp and a flat of its two adjacent naturals.   The shape and the absence of a black “fill” provides a two-fold contrast to the combination notehead for easier reading.  Here's an example (treble and bass staves):

Black filled circles and triangles.  These choices provide an interim step between Traditional Notation and the default WYSIWYP preferences.  Sharps are represented by upward pointing triangles while flats are represented by downward pointing ones.  The vertical placement on the staff is the same as the corresponding natural.  For example, a C sharp is an upward point triangle on the same vertical position as the C natural.   This maps to a key on the keyboard that is both a C sharp and a D flat.  So, the same key can be represented by a downward pointing triangle on the same vertical position as the D natural.  Traditional Notation works in a similar way wherein a sharp is played by pressing the black key to the right of the natural and a flat by the key to the left. 

If you are planning to switch to using Traditional Notation, then this might be a good way to not drift too far from its design and to get used to making these last moment mental conversions from natural to sharp and flat.  Using symbols that are black filled makes the noteheads really stand out on the page and perhaps easier to read by some.  

Another factor to consider is the use of color-coded chords.  The filled notehead makes the colors stand out in order to be more easily recognizable.

On the other hand, if the sheet music has some very closely spaced notes in chords such that the noteheads overlap, using a hollow natural notehead may be easier to read. 

Hollow circles and triangles.  Fingerings can positioned above, to the left, or behind the notehead as a user preference.  Of course, to see the fingerings behind, the hollow noteheads should be selected. 

Traditional sharp and flat symbols.  These may be useful to those who are not familiar with these traditional symbols in order to learn them.  Notice how a sharp and a flat for the same note are displayed on different vertical positions.