Easy Articulations — Tom’s Top Tip #6

In the course of my travels I talk to Finale users almost every day, and I love sharing the tips I’ve picked up along the way. I’m delighted when someone’s face lights up as they realize how a specific tip is going to radically simplify their workflow, and it’s been my plan to share a top ten list of those tips that most often get this kind of OMG reaction.

Back in September I shared the first three of my top ten tips, and then a few weeks later added number four (on QuickStart Videos) and number five (on SmartFind and Paint). Today, for number six, I have some articulation entry tips which, if they’re new to you, should save you a bunch of time and will likely make your top ten list as well.

Occasionally I get a chance to see folks use Finale for the first time. It’s fun to see how they quickly intuit how to enter notes and more. But get to the point where they’re adding staccatos to several notes in a row and it’s laborious – one dot at a time. So I share this tip:

  1. With the Articulation tool selected, hold down “s” while you click and drag to surround some notes. Voilà – a staccato immediately appears over them all.

That’s it, there’s no step two! Of course the “s” stood for staccato, right? The epiphany comes when you realize there are probably other common-sense shortcuts too, like “a” for accent, “t” for trills, “u” for upbow, and “f” for fermata.

To learn the shortcut key for any articulation just double-click on a note (when in the Articulation tool) to get to the Articulation Selection dialog box. Here every articulation appears in its own little box (kind of like the Hollywood Squares without Paul Lynde). In the upper right-hand corner of each box is the shortcut key, so if you forget that “8” is the key to press for tremolo (“t” was already taken for trill), you can always look it up here.

Okay, one more related tip. Let’s say you want to put a staccato on all the quarter notes in several measures of your piece, but not on the eighth notes. Is there an instant way to do this? Yes!

  1. With the Articulation tool chosen, drag-select the desired region of your score – the Apply Articulations dialog box appears.
  2. Click Select then double-click on the desired articulation (in this case the staccato).
  3. Under Apply Articulation to select Notes within the range of durations and indicate the shortest note on top (in this case a quarter) and the longest note you wish to impact on the bottom (in this case a quarter too), then click OK.

Now your staccato appears on only the quarter notes in the measures you specified!

Both these tips are great timesavers and are easy as well. Creating great-looking scores quickly AND easily is what Finale is all about.

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