Finale, Scanning, and SmartMusic: The Real Story


Bob Grifa, Jane Minnis and Tom Johnson at the MENC Eastern Division Conference

Jane Minnis is the orchestral director at Darien High School in Darien, CT. An enthusaistic SmartMusic and Finale user, Jane approached our booth at the MENC Eastern Division Conference with a question.

Jane’s string orchestra was working on a piece found in the SmartMusic library, Alexander Glazunov’s “The Enchanted Castle,” and enjoying all the benefits SmartMusic has to offer. However, the next piece she wanted to do wasn’t currently in the SmartMusic library. Jane wanted to know if it was possible to scan sheet music into Finale and then convert it into an assessable SmartMusic file.

When I suggested that we simply try it, she offered to return the next day with the music.

The next day Jane returned. But not the score itself, just the parts, so now she had another question: How easy is it to turn scanned parts into a full orchestra score?

Because the parts were clean, well-engraved originals, I knew right away they would scan beautifully. My particular scanner is an Epson Perfection V30, an inexpensive scanner that works well for me on both Macintosh and Windows computers. Jane was amazed at how quick and easy the scanning was: While there were a few edits to be made to the scanned parts, the process of getting the notes into Finale was still far faster than entering the notation any other way.

To compile these parts into a score I used Finale’s “ScoreMerger” feature. As I followed the steps in my previous blog, Jane watched as first the Violin 1 part, then the Violin 2, Viola, Cello and Double Bass parts magically formed into a score.

I then copied the entire contents of this score and pasted it into a new blank document I created using Finale’s Setup Wizard, having selected Finale’s pre-designed “Garritan String Orchestra” ensemble. In addition to instantly creating a great-looking (and -sounding) Finale score, this step also ensured that linked parts were correctly configured – as these parts will eventually be seen in SmartMusic as well.

From there, saving the result as a SmartMusic accompaniment was a matter of a few clicks – I’ll share the specifics in an upcoming blog. We then opened the accompaniment under the watchful eye of my friend (and fellow blogger) Bob Grifa, our SmartMusic Product Specialist, and saw that it was ready to be assigned to students in SmartMusic’s gradebook feature. In all, the whole effort, from opening the scanner to creating the SmartMusic accompaniment took about ten minutes.

I have to admit at feeling a sense of pride at how well all these different technologies worked together, and how Bob and I were able to answer Jane’s questions. But the technology isn’t the real story. The real story is Jane’s determination in seeking out new ways to provide her students with the very best experience possible. Bravo, Jane, and music educators everywhere!

Share how you’re using Finale with your music students by clicking on “Comments” below!

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