I really enjoy composing handbell music, when I can find the time! Since the only instrument I can play is handbells (that's right -- I cannot play keyboard!), I completely rely on my computer hardware and software. Currently, I am using a Macintosh G4 (cube) computer and two software programs, Composer's Mosaic and Performer. Both software programs were manufactured by Mark of the Unicorn. In addition, I use a Yamaha PSR-3000 keyboard connected to the computer via a MIDI cable, and print the scores on a 300 dpi LaserWriter Select 310 printer.
Composer's Mosaic gives me the ability to produce high-quality manuscripts. In addition, it does have limited MIDI-capability so that I can playback and hear parts of or the entire composition. (It will not, however, interpret articulations such as crescendos, ritards, acceleranos, etc.)
Performer allows me to play performances on the keyboard with articulations. The software is very powerful, and to be honest, has a lot more capabilities than what I use it for.
Files can be transferred between the two programs by saving the data in a standard "MIDI" format.
I first became interested in composing while attending North Carolina State University. At the time, the university did not have a music degree program, but some classes were offered. I took two semesters of music theory and one semester of composition. I was fortunate to have the same instructor in all three classes, Dr. Phyllis Vogel (who is a talented classical pianist).