Berklee Online has moved this blog to their new site. Here is the direct link:


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In this post, I am going to outline some ways SmartMusic can help you as an arranger and composer.  SmartMusic is a subscription-based application for Mac, Windows and iPad that is designed for practice and performance for students and performers at all levels. There is no free version so you have to have a subscription in order to access the music files in SmartMusic. The annual subscription cost as of June, 2014 is $40.00 per year.


Jazz Improvisation Rhythm Section Transcriptions

There are two main areas of interest to composers and arrangers. The first is Jazz Improvisation materials. The reason these exercises are helpful to arrangers and composers is every improv exercise also includes a transcription of the piano, bass and drumset part. This can be an excellent learning tool for studying bass lines, piano comping styles, and how drummers interpret specific styles.

  1. Launch SmartMusic
  2. Select FIND MUSIC
  3. Click on Jazz Improvisation
  4. Choose one of the collections
  5. Select a specific tune

  1. Choose a collection, such as Wynton Marsalis Volume III: Standards
  2. Choose a selection
  3. Open the selection and press play to play back the file

From the instrument menu, choose one of the options for transcriptions: Bass, Piano, or Drums.

View the notation of one of the transcription to study the way Wynton’s rhythm section member played the part. It is a great way to study walking bass lines, 2-feel, Bossa-Nova and other styles. Below is a screen shot of the first page of the bass transcription from Monk’s Dream.

You can change at any time between the bass, piano or drum transcription for all of the Jazz Improvisation materials in SmartMusic.

Viewing Parts from Arrangements and Compositions for Jazz Ensemble

SmartMusic also includes a host of published Jazz Ensemble arrangements. Each of these arrangements allow for displaying any one of the individual parts. For example, you can select an arrangement and then view the rhythm section and horn parts one at a time. There is no option for viewing the conductor score. This can be a wonderful way to view and learn from a host of published arrangements.

  1. Click FIND MUSIC
  2. Select Concert and Jazz Band, String & Full Orchestra
  3. Check the difficulty level.  Medium Advanced or Advanced will provide a list of professional-level jazz arrangements.
  4. Choose the part, for example, guitar.

You can listen to a recording of the piece and view the printed part. This is a terrific way to review how arrangers write parts for various instruments.

TIP: SmartMusic is not designed for printing. Basic Mac and Windows screen capture is disabled. In order to make a screen capture for your personal reference (not for printing for commercial or performance use), you will need to use a third party screen capture app. Check out my blogpost on screen capture options for Mac and Windows.

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Back in 2008, one of my first posts in this blog, I did a post on scanning and music notation software. The concepts and information in that post are still relevant. If you have sheet music that you want to scan in, using a scanner and converting them to TIFF files is the still the best option. See the post for details.

In this post, I focus on scanning in PDF files.

Scanning Software: Free or Fee?

The first step is to choose the software for scanning PDF files. As of now (April, 2014) the free version of Scanning that comes with Sibelius, Photoscore Lite, does allow for scanning PDF files.  The free version that ships with Finale, SmartScore Lite, does not.

TIP: With Finale, there is an option using the free scanning software that comes with the program: convert the PDF file pages to a graphic TIFF image and then read them into Finale. That’s a bit of a pain, but if you don’t have the money to purchase the full version of SmartScore, then this can get the job done. You can convert PDF to TIFF files using any one of many free options including websites and free PDF readers such as Preview for Mac and Adobe Acrobat Pro.

Paid/Pro Versions of Photoscore and SmartScore

If you do a lot of scanning and importing PDF files into Finale or Sibelius, then consider upgrading the Pro versions. I recommend downloading the demo and experimenting with it to see how it does with PDF files. If it is accurate for the music you want to scan, then purchase the full version of the software. The advantage of the Pro versions is they recognize text, chord symbols and much more and the conversion process is also more accurate.

Sibelius PhotoScore Lite and Photoscore Ultimate

With Sibelius and Photoscore Lite and Photoscore Ultimate, you launch a separate program and then import the PDF file. Once the PDF file is imported into PhotoScore, you can then correct any mistakes. The last step is to send the converted file to Sibelius. Consult the Sibelius manual for more information on the scanning process.

Finale SmartScore Lite and SmartScore Professional

First you must convert the PDF file to TIFF files using one of the options mentioned above. Then, import the TIFF files directly into Finale. Be sure to watch the scanning video that Finale produced.  With SmartScore Professional, you launch the program, import the PDF files and then edit any mistakes in SmartScore and then send the file directly to Finale.

Sources of PDF files

PDF files are ubiquitous on the Internet. And, there are many sites that feature PDF files of music in public domain so you can scan in the music without violating the copyright law. These sites include:

  • Choral Public Domain Library  Thousands of scores in PDF format, and some are in Finale and Sibelius format as well.
  • Petrucci Music Library (Almost 250,000 scores)  Mostly in PDF format. There are some MIDI files as well.
  • Google the name of the piece of music and the letters PDF.
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Finale Worksheets

Apr 11 2014

Finale has included worksheets since version 2010. The current version, 2014, has hundreds of worksheets in a wide variety of applications. Back in 2009 I did a post on Sibelius Worksheets. I made the statement that the Sibelius Worksheets made the total cost of the software worth it for music educators. Since that time, Finale has created their own Worksheets and they are also an incredible free resource for use in private lessons and for K-12 and College music teachers. I tell Sibelius users to consider purchasing a copy of Finale just to have access to their worksheets. And, if you use SmartMusic, the worksheets can be used in conjunction with it.

TIP: Finale Worksheets do not come with the demo version of Finale. You must purchase a full version of Finale. Also, take advantage of the educational discount that MakeMusic offers. You can purchase Finale at a significant discount if you are a music educator, private teacher or church musician. You can purchase it from MakeMusic or resellers such as and as well as directly from MakeMusic.

Printing Handouts and Booklets

Some teachers have created their own personalized theory workbooks for students using Finale worksheets. You have permission to duplicate and distribute Finale Worksheets either in print or electronically. Finale includes the following statement on each worksheet:

MakeMusic grants permission to duplicate this worksheet for non-profit, educational use only, provided each copy includes this copyright notice. Copies may not be sold or included in any materials offered for sale to the general public.

Finale Worksheets are organized into two main categories: Worksheets and Repertoire

To access the worksheets, launch Finale and choose File > Open Worksheets and Repertoire.

The Worksheets section includes hundreds of pre-made materials useful with students of all ages.


There are over 50 rhythm worksheets that correlate with the rhythm exercises in SmartMusic. However, you don’t have to be a SmartMusic user to apply them in your teaching. You could print a packet of pages for sight reading or post them in PDF format or Finale format on your teacher website. I have used these worksheets with students and asked them to write in the beats over each bar. And, I’ve used them for sight reading materials. The numbers above each line of rhythms correlates with the specific number in SmartMusic.

PDF version of the above Worksheet: 2210 Simple Time 6215 to 6220

Other rhythm worksheets include a set of rhythm equations where students add up the total number of beats. These make for a good way to use cross-curricular concepts in a lesson as these are math-related exercises.

Elements of Music

The elements of music section includes worksheets that are designed to be printed out and completed with pencil. Teachers have used these worksheets to create a complete and customized music theory booklet for students.  Below is an example of the The staff,

PDF version of the above Worksheet: 0001 The Staff


Worksheet Answer Sheets

Many teachers use Finale worksheets for substitute lesson plans. For this and similar purposes, there is a complete set of answer sheets available. The answer sheets download as a separate PDF file when you install Finale. Go to the folder where Finale is installed on your computer and look for Finale Worksheets Answer Key. There is a PDF for each section of the worksheets. For example, the answer sheet for the above Staff worksheet looks like:


PDF version of the above Worksheet: Elements of Music The Staff Answer Sheet

Ear Training and Improvisation

The rest of the categories contain many helpful worksheets. The Intervals, chords and ear training worksheets can be used to help students practice ear training exercises. These files work best when opened in Finale or via the free version of Finale, Finale Notepad. Share specific files with students via email or posting on a teacher website. Students can then open the files in Finale Notepad for practice and reference.

Opening Worksheets with Finale Notepad

Since Finale offers a free version of Finale, Finale Notepad, students can open and manipulate worksheets. Finale Notepad does not have all of the editing functions of Finale, but students can view, playback and enter notation into exercises and worksheets that you want them to complete.

SmartMusic Exercises

If you use SmartMusic, you can use the worksheets as supplemental print materials for students.  The various rhythm and melodic exercises can be printed and opened by students. The Finale worksheets include the SmartMusic exercise number on the sheet (see the rhythm sheet, above). One option is to print up a booklet of the various rhythm worksheets you want the students to cover. They are numbered and correspond to the exercises in SmartMusic.


The Finale repertoire section contains materials of interest to teachers. There are folk songs that can be printed for singing as well as repertoire for ensembles. And, if you open the files in Finale, you can make adjustments to them for your students so it is a great resource for creating duets, trios and other chamber music pieces. Since all of the music is in Public Domain, you can arrange and adjust them for your own use without violating copyright.

In-Service Activity

I often suggest to teachers that if they can propose a topic for an in-service activity, propose that the staff take time to review the Finale Worksheets and Repertoire and integrate them into the music curriculum. With hundreds of worksheets, it can take the better part of an entire day to get through them all and to create lesson integration ideas for their use.  Even if you don’t own a copy of the full version of Finale, you can review the options from the online Finale manual. These only offer thumbnail versions of the files, but at least you can see the options. You will need at least one copy of Finale to open the full versions of the worksheets.

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A common question that I receive from my arranging students is about the difference between jazz shuffle and jazz swing.

Jazz Swing and Jazz Shuffle are similar styles. They both have swing eighth notes. When I am writing in a jazz shuffle style, the first thing I think of is a heavy back beat in the snare – like rock.  And, with shuffle, the horn rhythms can be a little more choppy or staccato sounding.

A good discussion of this topic:

Shuffle Notation

Sometimes, I write the parts with a dotted eighth and 16th rather than the typical 2 eighth notes.  Notice in the Bubba’s Revenge  example how there are 16ths in the first bar and eighth notes in the last. This communicates a slight variation of the rhythm to the player. This is from the guitar part in bars 9 and 10. Check out the YouTube recording, below.

Count Bubba’s Revenge: Gordon Goodwin


YouTube links in a Jazz Shuffle Style:

1. Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers – The Chess Players

2. Jump Jive and Wail: notice the heavy back beat in the snare.

3.  Buddy Rich Groovin Hard – after the intro section – when the drums play the heavy back beat

4. Harry “Sweets”Edison-Red Bunk Shuffle


Compare the above with straight ahead swing:

1. Sinatra:  Summer Wind – Notice the difference in how the snare is much less heavy and the figures in the horns more legato or “laid back.”

2.  Buddy Rich:  Basically Blues – Notice how the snare is a cross-stick and much less “heavy” sounding.

3.  Count Basie: Cute – drums with brushes, no heavy back beat.

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I co-authored a new book with Vince Leonard entitled the Musical iPad.  The book is available from Hal Leonard, Amazon and other book sellers and dealers.

The Chapters include:

  1. Getting Started
  2. Music Listening and Basic Tools
  3. Live Performance
  4. Reading Music, Chords, and Lyrics
  5. Recording
  6. Composing and Songwriting with Notation
  7. Learning Music
  8. Music Education
  9. Music and More

You can download the complete Table of Contents of the Musical iPad:
Musical iPad TOC

 From the Book Foreword:

Musical iPad will help you turn your mobile device into a powerful amplifier for your creativity—and turn your modest investment in a tablet device into an extremely valuable tool for learning and making music. The well-written, easy-to-follow instructions and descriptions will get you up to speed in no time and will help you make the most of your Apple iPad.

David Mash
Senior Vice President for Innovation, Strategy, and Technology
Berklee College of Music

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When you are creating a score in Finale, Sibelius or any other notation program, using the proper score order is recommended.  There are several ways to make changes to the score order in Finale and Sibelius and these will be address in this post.

New Score from Template

When you are starting a score, both Finale and Sibelius have templates. Finale calls them Ensembles and Sibelius Manuscript Paper. This is the easiest way to review score order as these templates have been created by musicians with knowledge of the common score order for scores. Here are the steps:


  1. Choose File > New > Document with Setup Wizard or from the Launch Window click “Setup Wizard.
  2. Select an Ensemble from the left column.
  3. You can also choose from one of the score order options via the menu below the instruments in the score list.
  4. You can edit the staves in the score by selecting them and adding or removing them from the Select Instrument(s) window.
  5. You can adjust the order of instruments by selecting the instrument and clicking the arrows to the right of the instrument list.
  6. And, if you do make adjustments, you get the option to save the ensemble as a custom one and it will be added to the Ensemble list for later use.



  1. Choose File > New
  2. Click on the “New Score” tab
  3. Choose one of the Manuscript Paper options. You can enter a word in the search box.
  4. Make adjustments to the score in the “Change Instruments” window: add or delete instruments from the list or move the order by selecting the instrument and under “Move” choose up or down.
  5. You can save the custom score as Manuscript paper and it will be added to the list for future use.  To add it to the list of Manuscript Paper, choose File > Export > Manuscript paper.
    : You will get a warning, “This will add this score to the list of Manuscript Papers that appear when you start a score.” Click Yes.
    : Enter the title of the Manuscript paper. Remember that it will show up in alphabetical order so name it accordingly. Select the category and then click the Export button at the bottom of the page.

Score Order Overview

Small Combo and Rhythm Section

When writing for a jazz or rock combo with rhythm section:

  • Instruments or voice
  • Guitar
  • Piano
  • Bass
  • Drums

If there are multiple guitars or keyboard instruments, put them in alphabetical order within the above overall order.

Jazz Ensemble

  • Vocals
  • Saxophones: Alto, Tenor, Bari
  • Trumpets 1, 2, 3, 4
  • Trombones 1, 2, 3, 4
  • Guitar
  • Piano
  • Bass
  • Drums

Concert Band

Highest pitched instruments at the top. Order of families:

  • Woodwinds
  • Brass
  • Percussion


Highest pitched instruments at the top. Order of families:

  • Woodwinds
  • Brass
  • Percussion
  • Strings


Voices at the top from highest to lowest:

  • Soprano
  • Alto
  • Tenor
  • Bass
  • Piano
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There are often times when you may want to indicate a “ghost” note in a part. These occur in jazz and rock and can occur in a vocal or horn part or rhythm section instrument. Ghost notes are suggested or implied and are much softer than normal notes. They are typically notated by placing parentheses around the note.

Check out the transcription of the beginning of Lee Morgan’s solo on Blue Train on the Jazz Trumpet Solos site.  Notice the ghost note in bar three of the transcription.

Finale:  Notating Ghost Notes

To add a parentheses around a note, enter a left and right parentheses via the Articulation Tool.

  1. Enter the notation.
  2. Choose the Articulation tool.
  3. Click on the desired notehead.
  4. Choose the left parentheses, #38 in the Articulation Selection Window.
  5. After entering the left parentheses, click the notehead again and choose the right parentheses, #39 in the Articulation Selection Window.
  6. Drag each parentheses to the desired location.


Sibelius: Notating Ghost Notes

  1. Enter the notation
  2. Select the notehead(s)
  3. From the second Keypad Layout choose “Bracket notehead”

(Thanks to John Hinchey’s comment for suggesting the above Sibelius method)

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MakeMusic is shipping the latest version of Finale notation software, Finale 2014.

Improved note entry when entering with Voices and entering accidentals

I am impressed with the improvement Finale continues to makes with note entry. Finale 2014 addresses this issue in several ways. Check out the Finale promotional video on these features:

Additional Finale 2014 Improvements

  1. An updated Mixer
  2. Additional options in Special Tools
  3. Enhanced set-up for percussion staves

Demo video:

New Export options:

  1. Backwards saving in Finale 2012 format
  2. Exporting in EPUB format for incorporating with iBooks

The new option of backwards saving in Finale 2012 format is a welcome new feature. However, in order to backwards save to earlier versions of Finale you must import and export via MusicXML.

Additional Garritan Sounds in Finale 2014

Sample playback:


Finale offers an upgrade to Finale 2014 from any previous version of Finale for $139.95.

if you are a teacher or church musician and you are purchasing Finale for the first time, take advantage of their Academic Pricing.

Sweetwater offers a significant discount on the Academic version of Finale.

Check out the list of  third party vendors who sell Finale:

However, in order to upgrade, you must do it directly through MakeMusic.


Finale 2014 is not an update that I would consider significant in terms of features. However, there is enough here to make it worth the upgrade cost. And, if you have an older version of Finale, the upgrade price is worth it as there have been many new enhancements in Finale 2010, 2011, and 2012.

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In Finale Notation Software, when you are entering Lyrics via the Click in Score method or you are entering chord symbols by typing them into the score, you are presented with a series of triangles on the left of the screen. It is a good idea to know what they mean, as each has a distinct function. From the Finale manual:


  1. Choose the Lyrics Tool.
  2. From the Lyrics menu, choose Click Assignment or Type Into Score.
  3. Move the Click Assignment box out of the way, if necessary. At the left edge of the screen is a row of four small triangles pointing to the right. They control the baseline for the lyrics. If necessary, click the staff whose lyrics need adjustment.


  1. Choose the Chord Tool.
  2. From the Chord menu, choose Manual Input.
  3. Click to the left of the staff and a box with four small triangles will appear.

What Each Triangle Controls:

  1. Drag the leftmost triangle (1) up or down to set the baseline for the entire piece (for the selected lyric type and number). As you drag it, the other three triangles move with it.
  2. Drag the second triangle (2) up or down to set the baseline for the selected staff only, all the way through the piece (for the selected lyric). As you drag this triangle, the two triangles to its right move with it.
  3. Drag the third triangle (3) up or down to set the baseline for this staff, this system only (for the selected lyric). As you drag this triangle, the rightmost triangle moves with it. Use this third triangle only in Page View (so you can see the system you’re affecting).
  4. Drag the rightmost triangle (4) up or down to set the baseline for the next syllable, before it’s entered. This option is useful when you’re entering lyrics with the Type Into Score feature or by Click Assigning one syllable at a time.

Here are some examples of when to use these arrows for chords or lyrics:

  • Drag the leftmost triangle (1) to set the base line for all of the chords (or lyrics) in the piece.
  • Drag the second arrow (2)  for a specific staff – for example, perhaps the guitar has a lot of high notes and ledger lines and you want to move the chord symbols up so they do not collide with the notation, but you only want this in the guitar part, not the piano and bass parts who also have chord symbols. Select the guitar part and drag the second triangle from the left.
  • Same example as #2, above, but it only occurs in one specific system in the guitar part. In this case, just drag the third triangle (3) from the left.
  • Only use the fourth triangle from the left (4) if you have moved arrows 1, 2 or 3 and want the next lyric or chord to be entered at a different location.
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