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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When you are working with transposing instruments such as the Bb trumpet, Eb alto sax, Bb tenor Sax, F Horn and other instruments, keep the following in mind:

Be sure to create the staff with the proper transposing instrument. Finale and Sibelius have the transpositions built-in so long as you select the specific instrument when you start a score or make an instrument change. For example, if you use an “unnamed treble staff”  the transposition for the instrument will not be part of the staff.  If you are adding an instrument to the score, select it as follows:

  • Finale 2011 and earlier:  Select the Staff Tool and choose Staff > New Staff with Setup Wizard. If you don’t select a staff the new staff will be placed below the score. If you want it in a specific place in the score, select the staff handle below where you want the new one to appear before you access the menu.
  • Finale 2012 and later:  Choose Window > Score Manager and add the instrument to the score. Adjust the location by dragging the instrument in the Score Manager window.


Sibelius 6 and 7:  Press the letter I to open the Instruments window. Add the specific instrument to the score.


Switching between Concert and Transposed View

When I am composing an arrangement, I usually view the score in concert pitch. Then, when I am done, I change to transposed view, check to be sure the ranges are correct, and then print the score and parts.


Finale: To toggle between Concert and Transposed View

From the Document menu, choose Display in Concert Pitch. Uncheck this option to display the score in transposed view.


Sibelius: To toggle between Concert and Transposed View

  • Sibelius 7: Choose Home > Instruments > Transposing Score. If it is highlighted the score is in transposed view.
  • Sibelius 6:  Click the key of Bb icon in the toolbar or choose Notes > Transposing Score.

With both Sibelius 6 and 7 you can use the keyboard shortcut:  Shift+CTRL+T (Shift+Command+T on Mac)


Guitar and Bass Transposition

Both the guitar and bass are transposing instruments. They are written one octave higher than where they sound. Finale and Sibelius handle the display of these instruments differently.

  • Finale:  When you turn on “Display in Concert Pitch” the bass and guitar will both be displayed down one octave from where they were written so long as you created the part using one of the guitar or bass options.

Finale In Transposed View:

Finale with “Display in Concert Pitch” checked:


  • Sibelius:  When you turn off  “Transposing Score” the guitar and bass remain where they are written – an octave higher than where they sound. In other words, Sibelius ignores the guitar and bass when you switch to a concert score.

Sibelius with Transposing Score checked and unchecked (no difference):

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When working in large scores, it is often helpful to adjust the staves that are displayed. This can be extremely helpful when working in big band, orchestra, and concert band scores. Even with a large monitor screen, it can be extremely helpful to customize the look of the staff. I will often display a specific instrument family or section while working in a big band score.  For example, show the sax section and the rhythm section in a big band score. In a concert band score, I will sometimes look at all the bass instruments such as the bass clarinet, tuba, and baritone sax to speed the copy and paste process and review how the parts interact. Below are some examples:

The full score view of an arrangement I wrote on Stevie Wonder’s All in Love is Fair for Jazz Ensemble:

Using an adjusted staff view to view just the saxes and rhythm section:

Using an adjusted staff view to see specific staves:  bari sax, 4th trombone, piano and bass:


When working with large scores, I do the majority of my note entry using the scrolling score view. Finale choose View > Scroll View. Sibelius choose View > Panorama.

Finale Staff Sets

To accomplish this in Finale, you use Staff Sets. These must be programmed for each document. Here is how it works:

  1. You must be in View > Scroll View
  2. Choose the Staff Stool
  3. Select the staves you want to view, for example, the saxes and rhythm section. Hold down CTRL (Command on Mac) to select staves that are not next to each other.
  4. Hold down CTRL (option on Mac) and choose View > Program Staff Set (this only appears if you are holding down the CTRL (option on Mac) while selecting the menu).
  5. Once you have programmed one or more Staff Sets, you can select them from the View Menu or use the shortcuts:
    • CTRL+zero (control+zero on Mac) to show all staves
    • CTRL+1, CTRL+2  (control+1, control+2 on Mac) and so on for up to eight Staff Sets.


Finale prints all staves (and displays all staves in Page View), however, no matter which are visible in Scroll View.

Reference the Finale help documentation for more details:

Sibelius: Focus on Staves

Creating Staff Sets in Sibelius is done using the Focus on Staves feature.  It is applied in any view including the normal page view or Panorama.

  1. Select the staves you want to display by clicking an a bar to select the staff
  2. Use Shift+Click or CTRL+click (Command+click on Mac) to select staves that are not next to each other.
  3. Choose Layout > Focus on Staves.
  4. You can switch back and forth from the Focus on Staves to the entire score using the shortcut: CTRL+alt+F (Command+option+F on Mac)


Review the Sibelius Reference for more information:

  • Sibelius 6 reference section 5.8 Focus on Staves
  • Sibelius 7 reference 7.4 Focus on Staves


Focus on Staves Plug-ins

There are two custom plug-ins that can be installed in Sibelius that provides similar  features as Finale offers with Staff Sets.
The two plug-ins were programmed by Bob Zawalich and are compatible with Sibelius 5, Sibelius 6 and Sibelius 7:

  • Focus Set
  • Focus Families


To install Sibelius plug-ins

Sibelius 7:  Open any Sibelius file or create a new file

  1. Go to File >Plug-ins > Install Plug-ins
  2. Choose the category and then the specific plug-in.
  3. Read about the plug-in in the right window.
  4. Click install to install the Plug-in.


Sibelius 6 and earlier you must go to the Plug-ins section of the Sibelius website and download and manually install plug-ins

  1. Go to the Sibelius main Web site:
  2. Click on Downloads.
  3. Under “Other Downloads” click on “extra plug-ins.” (
  4. Click on the Focus on Staves link.
  5. Review the steps to install plug-ins at the bottom of the page.


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When you want to display polyphony in a drum set, piano, harp or vocal part, you should use Voices in Sibelius and Layers in Finale. Both programs have the capability of using up to four independent parts in one staff using four different Voices (Sibelius) or Layers (Finale).

It is common to use two voices/layers in drums, piano and vocal parts. However, it is rare to use three voices or layers and extremely rare to use four layers.

Both programs follow the same basic rules:

  • Stems up = Layer/Voice 1
  • Stems down = Layer/Voice 2

TIP: The most common mistake I see made is when there is a piano part or SATB vocal part with two clefs. It makes musical sense to use Layer/Voice 1 and 2 in the top staff and then Layer/Voice 3 and 4 in the bottom staff. This is not correct!  Use Layer/Voice 1 for up stems and Layer/Voice 2 for stems down in every staff. Use Layer/Voice 3 and 4 only for special (and rare) instances.

Below is an example of using Layers/Voices in Piano music.

Below is an example of using Voices/Layers in a Drum part.

 TIP: In Finale and Sibelius, you can display the voice/layer color. This is helpful to see the specific voices/layers.
Finale:  Choose View > Display Colors and be sure “Use Score Colors” is Checked.
Sibelius: Choose View > Note Colors

TIP: In Sibelius, if you reverse the common Voices and put Voice 2 with stems up and Voice 1 with stems down, the alignment of the beats will be off.


Entering Voices/Layers

Finale: Choose the appropriate Layer at the bottom left of the Finale Window.
You can also use the shortcut to select the Layer: hold down CTRL+alt (Command+option on Mac) and press the number 1, 2, 3, or 4 across the top of the computer keyboard

Sibelius: Select the bar and press the letter N. Choose the Voice from the bottom of the Keypad.
You can also use the shortcut: hold down alt (option on Mac) and press the number on the keyboard


Swapping Layers/Voices

Both programs have the capability to change a Layer/Voice from one to the other after they have been entered.


  1. Select the passage
  2. Choose Edit > Move Copy Layers
  3. Select the Layer you want to move


Sibelius 6:

  1. Select the passage
  2. Choose Edit > Voice > Select the Voice you want to swap

Sibelius 7:

  1. Select the passage
  2. Choose Note Input > Voices > Swap


Examples When Three Voices/Layers are needed

It is rare when you need to use more than two layers/voices. Below are two examples that required three layers/voices:

Example 1:  A classical guitar piece. Notice the one place that required a 3rd voice.layer.

Example 2:  A piano part. Notice where I used voice/layer 3 for the chords that enter and sustain on different beats.

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