Finale 2011: Less to learn and remember

Today I’m in a coffee shop in Madison, Wisconsin, brainstorming blog topics between stops on one of my many Finale road trips. In doing so I was checking out Justin’s excellent blog posts on Staff Layout and Lyrics in Finale 2011, and I began to notice a theme. It seems to me that many of my favorite Finale 2011 improvements aren’t so much about doing things Finale couldn’t before, instead they’re about HOW to accomplish those things. And the big difference, at least for me, is that there’s so much less to learn and remember.

While the Staff Layout improvements alone offer some very significant examples of this theme, I wanted to use one small addition that Justin mentioned to illustrate my point.

To do so we have to travel back to a world before Finale 2011. Imagine you’re Tom Johnson, and you’re demonstrating Finale 2010 somewhere, and you’re entering lyrics when an audience member asks you how to ENTER VERSE NUMBERS (cue the echo chamber so those last three words reverberate horrifically).

Well, you click on the first lyric and type a 1, right? That works. But things get tricky when you want to put a space between that number and the first lyric. Upon hitting the spacebar Finale assumes you’re moving to the next note. The solution is to type something that looks like a space but works like a character. Okay, some of the audience is still following you, now all you have to do is tell them which key to type. And here you have to say: “All you have to do on a Windows computer is type “ALT-0160!”

Of course it works fine every time, but holding down the Alt key and typing a four digit number isn’t exactly intuitive (at least Mac users only had to type Option-spacebar). And who can remember which four-digit number to type? Did I mention you have to repeat this for every verse?

To add verse numbers in Finale 2011 I go to the Lyrics menu and choose Auto-Number>Verses. Done.  Numbers and appropriate space appear before each verse. 

It’s not that the same result couldn’t be obtained with earlier versions of Finale – it could. But first you had to learn the steps and then remember the number. From big things like hiding staves to little things like numbering verses, common tasks are more intuitive in Finale 2011 so there’s less to learn and less to remember.

If only Finale could make it easier to remember where I left my sunglasses. If you’ve seen them, please let me know by clicking on the “Comments” button below.

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