Finale User Spotlight: Ken Amis

Kenneth Amis playing the Harvard University Band’s BBBb Besson tuba. Photo by Mark Olson

I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that anyone who plays classical music on a brass instrument is familiar with the Empire Brass. Furthermore, anyone who’s heard this internationally acclaimed group’s tuba player perform the piano solo from the third movement of Mozart’s Sonata in A, on his tuba, will likely never forget the name Kenneth Amis.

Ken was born and raised in Bermuda. He enrolled in Boston University at age sixteen where he majored in composition and studied tuba with Chester Schmitz (of the Boston Symphony Orchestra) and Sam Pilafian (founding member of the Empire Brass). After graduating from Boston University and becoming a licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music, he attended the New England Conservatory where he earned a master’s degree in composition.

Today, in addition to being tuba player for the Empire Brass, he’s a lecturer/professor at Boston University, and in 2003 he became the youngest recipient of the New England Conservatory of Music’s “Outstanding Alumni Award.” While a list of Ken’s many accomplishments is available on his website I list these few simply to illustrate the impression Ken’s talent seems to have made with everyone he encounters. It’s clear that, even among the world’s best, he is an exceptional musician.

Great work requires great tools, so it should come as little surprise that Ken is a longtime Finale user:

“I first began using Finale in 1991 as a college student. I had been using a competing notation program for several years so it was not an easy decision to make the switch. However, once I started using Finale I knew that I had made the right decision.
I use Finale for copy work and engraving as well as composing and arranging. Since the program gives me multiple ways to enter the notation, I can choose the most expedient method based on the task at hand. Whether creating new arrangements for the Empire Brass, working on a new commission for large orchestra or band, or simply doing last-minute copy work, the user interface is versatile enough to accommodate my busy schedule. And through its multiple viewing options and advanced playback capabilities I can monitor and proof any of my projects every step of the way.”

Ken is also keenly aware of the benefits Finale offers self-publishers, including the ability to create SmartMusic accompaniments:
“Advances in Internet technologies have really leveled the playing field among music publishers and resellers, and over the past decade Finale has helped my online store, Amis Musical Circle, to flourish. In everything from uploading score and sound previews to the web to offering SmartMusic files to customers, Finale has been an indispensable tool in the production, publication, and promotion of my music.”

In fact, he’s currently working on a fascinating project that involves both Finale and SmartMusic.

The Florida Bandmasters Association,, and MakeMusic commissioned Ken to compose a band composition to be rehearsed and performed on webcasts from the J. P. Taravella High School in Coral Springs, Florida. The result is March of the Corn (participating students provided the title). The score and parts were created in Finale, and a SmartMusic accompaniment and individual assignments were also created to assist in the preparation of the performance.

On March 17, 2010, there will be a free webcast from the J. P. Taravella High School that will include a live, in-depth composer/band rehearsal, as well as a SmartMusic demonstration/clinic. The event will also be simulcast on the Woodwind & Brasswind site. You can view and hear the score as well as watch videos of the project in progress (including Ken’s rehearsals with the J. P. Taravella High School band) from the Florida Commission Project webpage.

The concert premier of March of the Corn will occur on May 20, 2010. Additional details can be found at

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