Finale and Boomwhackers® Musical Tubes

Some Finale users have more complex notation needs than others. That makes sense: I would imagine that someone creating avant garde 21st century notation would push notational boundaries more than someone creating a traditional string quartet or big band score.

The surprise, to me at least, was that General Music educators also have complex notation needs, despite teaching the simplest music possible. How can this be?

Consider for a second; who else requires one huge measure per page with one whole note placed in the middle of the measure?

That a music engraver would never put a whole note in the middle of the measure doesn’t matter. What matters is that this is what a General Music educator might require to best convey the concept they’re teaching. What’s more, they might also require even more outlandish things like having each pitch appear in a different color, which is often the case when writing for Boomwhackers.

Boomwhackers are affordable and fun musical instruments that are very popular in General Music classes. According to their website, they are brightly colored plastic tubes that are tuned by length to musical notes. The site also goes on to describe the Chroma-Notes™ colored music system, where each pitch has a corresponding color. This color is used both for each note on the staff and the associated Boomwhackers.

This is what typical Boomwhackers notation might look like:

I met the man who invented Boomwhackers, Craig Ramsell, when he introduced himself at our booth during the 2007 Percussive Arts Society convention. At the time, Finale 2008 had just been released and it included support for Boomwhackers and the Chroma-Note System, so was I excited to learn more and quickly invited Craig to lunch.

Just like his Boomwhackers, Craig is colorful and musical, and as such he was a delightful lunch guest. He told me about the development process of integrating Boomwhackers support within Finale and how he personally recorded the Boomwhackers samples that Finale plays back.

You might think that getting Finale to play back these samples – or display different colors for each pitch – might take some tricky configuration.  Not so. Simply choose Boomwhackers in Finale’s Setup Wizard as I’ve done below:

When you subsequently enter notes in the resulting staves, you’ll automatically see the appropriately colored notes on the staff, and when you hit play you’ll hear actual Boomwhackers samples Craig recorded play back.

Are you using Boomwhackers in your General Music program or otherwise have complex music notation needs? Let us know how it’s going by clicking on “Comments” below!

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