Finale and the Case of the Missing Palette

I was recently emailing back and forth with an accomplished Finale user; the sort of person who delights in figuring out how to use Finale to push the boundaries of music notation. I was therefore a little surprised when he wrote: “I really do miss the Simple Rests Toolbar, though, and hope it comes back someday!”

This surprised me. While the Simple Entry Rests Palette doesn’t appear by default, you can easily turn it on. To do so, simply go to Finale’s Window menu and select it. That said, I never do; when in Simple Entry, I’ll typically enter a note of the correct duration then type “r” to turn it into a rest.

Perhaps my friend’s comment was an example of how our minds can compartmentalize things to our detriment. Had he been trying to determine how to produce some tricky notation, he probably would have explored freely until he found the solution, but somehow his mind perceived this a different type of “problem” and automatically filed it in the “unsolvable” category.

I’m reminded of an exercise described in Betty Edward’s book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. She describes asking a class of beginning drawing students to copy what appears to be a line drawing of Stravinsky. (It’s Picasso’s Portrait of Igor Stravinsky.) Their results were fairly poor.

Then she asked them to turn the portrait upside down. Instead of trying to copy it, she suggested they try to draw the negative space created between the lines. This time the results were remarkably more accurate.

I believe her lesson is that when our brains recognize an eye or a mouth, they reach into our experiences and try to access our eye- or mouth-drawing skills from the archives. Our preconceived notions of how these things should look hampers our ability to draw them as they do look. When we can stop identifying this thing as an eye, for example, and simply concentrate on its lines and shapes, the nonverbal parts of our brains are free to produce better results.

What does this have to do with Finale? I believe the drawing example offers a nice analogy for any type of creative endeavor: I think we can create better and more freely when we can avoid labeling or compartmentalizing things. This might include thinking beyond musical genres, or simply deciding that this or that (improvisation, orchestration, singing, whatever) isn’t among our personal strengths. 

What do you think? Share your insight — and help me express this better – by clicking on “Comments” below.

If nothing else, however, the Window menu (and “r” shortcut) are good tips!

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