Becoming proficient in using music notation software can sometimes be a daunting task. As a longtime Sibelius user, when I open up a file in Finale, I’m completely lost. Fortunately, there are many great resources available for learning how to us music notation software. In this post, we’ll explore some options for learning how to use Finale and Sibelius.
How to Learn Sibelius
I would consider Sibelius to be the more user friendly of the two, though that could simply be that I’ve been using it longer. For the most part, for anyone who’s already familiar with any other music notation software, it’s actually possible to get started right away and figure out how to use Sibelius on your own. It would require using the help menu and looking through the various menu options, but it can be done. The only problem is you wouldn’t be likely to retain much information and you’d never learn it on a deep level. For that, you’ll need other resources.
One fantastic free resource is Avid’s YouTube channel and their Get Started Fast with Sibelius video series. There are a whole array of free videos designed to help the user learn the Sibelius music notation software. The videos are quite clear and well laid out, and they’re designed to get the user up and running very quickly. Here’s a sample of the Fundamentals video:
I applaud Avid for creating this series. It’s a fantastic idea and immensely helpful for anyone looking to get starting using music notation software. There are also a few courses on Udemy, though most are either out of date or not nearly as broad in scope as Avid’s own free channel, which I highly recommend. Also, Avid’s online support is fantastic, as is the Sibelius user community. Most questions can be answered in an online forum quite quickly and easily.
How to Learn Finale
I, like many others, find Finale to me the more challenging music notation software to learn. Fortunately, makemusic also offers a free tutorial video series on YouTube. Their Finale Beginning Notation series provides enough material to get the novice user up and running quickly.
Another method to learn Finale music notation software is actually built directly into the product itself. From Finale’s launch window, click on “QuickStart Videos” or under the Help menu, select “QuickStart Videos” to access a series of helpful lessons to get started using Finale.
For actual lesson to learn makemusic’s Finale music notation software, there’s no better resource than Broadway music director Jason Loffredo, who has been offering Finale lessons and tutorials through his website Conquering Finale. Many of his tutorial videos are also available on YouTube, but any aspiring Finale user would be well served by signing up for private lessons or a workshop directly with him.
As far as I know, Jason is one of the few people offering private lessons and workshops to help people learn how to use the Finale music notation software. He’s experienced at teaching Finale, and has true power user chops from using it in many high profile productions as a music director on Broadway.
“Many people HAVE Finale but the program is so vast and powerful that most people don’t really understand what they can actually DO with Finale. Conquering Finale takes a completely systematic and comprehensive approach to learning the program. Even long time Finale users will benefit from watching the basic videos but there are intermediate and advanced level tutorials as well. Learn the basics inside and out to learn Finale the right way, then go on to the intermediate and advanced lessons and Conquer Finale!” -Jason Loffredo
With the advent of YouTube, it’s possible to learn just about any piece of software online for free, though it’s difficult to become a power user without guidance from someone with real world experience. While Sibelius generally has a shorter and easier learning curve than Finale, I would recommend to anyone who is looking to learn music notation software to reach out to an expert for even just a few lessons to learn valuable tips and tricks. I would strongly advise anyone interesting in learning Finale to avail themselves of the resources on the Conquering Finale website, and to contact Jason directly through the website for some private coaching. Having worked with Jason on several occasions, I can attest to his knowledge and teaching skills and can assure anyone considering this path that the experience will be well worth it.
Sibelius is available from Sam Ash: Avid Sibelius Ultimate Notation Software (Digital Download Retail Version)
Finale is available from Sam Ash: MakeMusic Finale v26 (Digital Download Full Version)
Click here to learn Finale music notation software with Jason Loffredo
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