Finale: Tom’s Top Ten Tips (Truncated)

Okay, I hear you…You want TIPS. I loved this blog response, put so well and applicable to so many of us; “I find myself in a Finale rut, using the same old methods…” Ain’t it the truth! And, as the majority of your comments have asked for Finale “tips”, I thought today would be a great time to begin passing on some of my favorites. These are gleaned from years of giving Finale clinics and hearing sighs from the audience when I share something particularly helpful. So, in that spirit, here’s a few examples from my top ten list of tips.

Tom’s Tip #1: Do the “guy” thing. Simply choose the Selection Tool and start hitting stuff.

Actually it is a BIT more focused. Choose Finale’s Selection Tool (its icon looks like an arrow), select a region, and type the numbers 1 thru 9, which are pre-defined keyboard shortcuts. Here is a brief summation of what you’ll get:

1 = Implode

If you selected a lot of staves this will take the notes in those staves and combine them all into ONE staff – either the top selected staff or a new staff at the bottom of the score.

2 = Explode (one of my all-time favorites)

Say you have four-note chords in your top staff with the three empty staves below. Just select the top staff, type 2, tell Finale that you want to “explode” the music into 4 staves, and select “OK”. Voilà! The music automatically orchestrates itself over the staves. Nice…

3 = Elapsed Time

Select an area (your whole piece?) and this tells you how LONG your piece is with all tempo changes factored in.

4 and 5 = Music Spacing

Feel free to experiment with the differences between Note Spacing (4) and Beat Spacing (5).

6, 7, 8, and 9 = Transposition

These are my REAL Favorites:

“6” moves the selected notes down a step
“7” moves the selected notes up a step
“8” moves the selected notes down an octave (omg!)
And, yes, “9” moves the selected notes UP an octave.

I find these Selection tool keyboard shortcuts to be tremendous time savers – I hope you do too!

Tom’s Tip #2: What do William Tell, Sitting Bull, and Geena Davis have in common? Confident arrow use.

Let’s say your score looks perfect except you want to move one measure down to the subsequent system. Or say you’ve got one lonely, orphaned measure on the last page. Both scenarios have the same solution – and you’re going to LOVE this:

a.       Choose the Selection Tool

b.      Select the measure(s) you want to move

c.       Hit your computer keyboard’s up (or down) arrow keys

Now, sometimes the solution involves a little back and forth experimentation, but the up and down arrow keys are handy, so feel free to explore.

Tom’s Tip #3: What do the two tips above have in common? The Selection tool. 

I know, I know, I keep mentioning this tool. BUT, it is the KEY to understanding FINALE and it is very powerful. In addition to selecting it from the Tool menu, you can also access it at any time by hitting the Escape (ESC) key twice. That’s a good tip in itself, but there’s more.

With the Selection tool chosen, right-click (CTRL-click for Mac users) on various items in your score: try key signatures, time signatures, staff names, text, etc. The corresponding contextual menus allow you to do so many things without having to select a specific tool. Instead, you just STAY in the Selection Tool and Edit, Edit, Edit.

Okay, this is starting to go long.  Couple that with my old ‘performer adage’ – LEAVE THEM WANTING MORE. So I’ll share more of my top ten list next time.

Enjoy, comment, rant and, as always, “Finale it in.”

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