Consider Finale’s Simple Entry, Part 1

If like me, you’re a movie fan, and you read every last credit of the movie before you leave, then you’ve read the name JoAnn Kane Music Service many, many times. They have prepared the music for countless Hollywood films – as well as for TV, recordings, live performances, video games, and much more. A few years back I had the good fortune to pay a visit to their Los Angles offices, for a Finale get-together, Q & A, and wine and cheese party (I also distinctly remember fruit, chocolate, and bread as well, but I digress….) for Los Angeles-area music copyists.

I arrived around noon and was greeted by Mark Graham who gave me the quick tour of their large, bustling office. Many copyists worked in the center of a large room where workstations were back to back, each with a computer monitor, keyboard, and small MIDI keyboard. Printers were housed along the walls and were busy printing out reams of prepared sheet music.

Amid all the activity I quietly set up my gear in the corner between an old upright piano and the food. Location, location, location. Besides the food, I noticed some sheet music on top of the piano in nice, organized stacks. Eventually my curiosity got the better of me – I took a peek and noticed it was all hand-notated, and on the manila-colored paper I associate with scores from the pre-software days of music notation. The manuscript was in pencil and I was thinking it was quite readable when I noticed the title: “The Prisoner of Azkaban!” John Williams’ score was just sitting there, ready to be entered into Finale. In a warm glow I went back to my task and readied myself for the event.

When the 80 to 90 copyists had arrived and I had begun my workshop, I asked how many of the attendees used Finale. All but two did. That did not surprise me – it was a Finale event after all. Then I asked who was a Macintosh user. EVERY HAND WENT UP. I asked again, “You mean there isn’t one Windows user here?” No one came forth. This fact did surprise me, but when I tell others this story they look at me as if I am the uninformed one. Obviously, the L.A. copyist community is very, very Mac-based.

I proceeded with my clinic and got to the part where I talk about entering notes in Simple Entry vs. Speedy Entry. Usually when I ask how many “Speedy” users are in the audience more than half the hands go up. This time, however, ALL the hands went up. My experience is that most people who prefer Speedy Entry learned Finale back when Speedy was undoubtedly the fastest note-entry method, and they have been using Speedy ever since. My guess is that described most of the people in this room. As I continued to explain Simple Entry they were quite vocal in their impatience in even thinking they would change their ways. “I am so fast at Speedy I would never change,” one enthusiastic engraver avowed. Who was I to try to change their minds?

As a student of diversity my entire life, I respect that each Finale user has their preferred method for note entry. Of course we would. Each person is different. And as my father used to say, “That’s a good thing as it would be a pretty boring world if we weren’t.” However, I think our best decisions are made when we have all the information at hand, and with that in mind, I invite you to read my next blog where I make my case why long-time Speedy Entry users might consider something new.

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