Finale User Spotlight: Dan Cavanagh

Composer and pianist Dan Cavanagh is the Associate Director of Jazz Studies and an Associate Professor of Music at the University of Texas at Arlington. He also works as a freelance jazz pianist, composer, clinician, and adjudicator. While full details of his busy musical life are available at his website, here are a few of the highlights:

  • Dan’s compositions have been performed at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and many other national and international venues.
  • Dan has received commissions from a wide range of groups across North America.
  • Dan’s compositions have received numerous awards, including Winner of the International Music Prizes for Excellence in Composition 2009 (sponsored by the National Academy of Music).
  • In addition to many groups who have recorded his music, the Jazz Emporium Big Band, led by Dan, have released an album of his original charts entitled Pulse.
  • Dan has been commissioned by Documentary Arts, Inc., to compose music for its upcoming documentary film, The Beat Hotel.

Despite all this, one of Dan’s most cherished achievements is that he was once selected as a member of the Finale Technical Support team.

Okay, I’m only assuming it was one of his most cherished achievements. Nevertheless he was great in that role as well, and we continue to delight in his subsequent achievements.

I asked Dan to share a little of his history with Finale, and he was kind enough to do so:

“I’ve been using Finale since high school, version 3.5. After graduating from college, I did a stint in MakeMusic’s technical support, which to this day continues to inform my Finale “chops.” I rarely need the user manual because of that job, and I probably spoke to some of the readers of your blog on the phone!
Today I use Finale for all of my composition projects; from big band charts, to classical music, to film scoring, to jazz-chamber-text pieces. I continue to welcome the new enhancements Finale comes up with each year, and find them invaluable to my process as a composer. Honestly, the most un-fun part of the compositional process is the notation and preparation of score and parts, so Finale is my best friend when it comes to minimizing that stage of the game.”

Dan was also willing to share a favorite Finale tip:

“I have recently moved to a two-monitor set-up, and I can’t recommend that enough for all Finale users, especially since the advent of multiple-page editing. For large scores, such as a film score or a big band chart, the ability to see ALL of the instruments at once for more than 8 measures can be a huge time saver. In our jazz courses at UT Arlington, we are saving quite a bit of paper by requiring students to e-mail or post their composition and theory assignments in Finale, rather than on paper. That, combined with the ability to create assignments for SmartMusic, has left more class time for actual instruction, and less time outside of class for grading.”

I’d like to close by saying that Dan also has a great sense of humor and an infectious smile. If you get a chance to see him perform, do so, and you’ll know I’m telling the truth about that (if not about his most cherished musical achievements).

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