The third class that I took during my first term with Berklee Online was “Music Notation and Score Preparation Using Finale”. Overall I feel it was a really good class for me to take as I hadn’t really used Finale before and it got me very familiar with the ins and outs of the software. It’s an older application that doesn’t have some of the features that many have come to expect from modern software (e.g. ability to option+drag duplicate objects, a way to align text frames with one another, etc.), but once you get to know “how things are done in Finale” it is really deep and pretty powerful. 

The class not only went over how to use Finale but also spent a good amount of time on the do’s and don’ts of general music notation. Some of the topics we covered were: the Finale Interface, Clefs, Key/Time Signatures, Special Notation, creating and working with Lead Sheets, Lyrics, Expression Markings, Repeats & Roadmaps, Instrument Specific Notation & Fingerings, Drum Notation, Ensemble Score & Part Preparation, Page Layout, Publishing Standards and Templates.

It was a lot to cover in twelve weeks, but I’d say that we went through most of the “main path functionalities” of Finale and by the end of the class I was feeling pretty comfortable using the app. Is it my favorite software that I’ve ever used? No, but I know how to work with it now and it does what I need it to do.

All that being said, I still feel that notating by hand is the way to go when I first have an idea. This allows me to quickly sketch out and map musical concepts, so as to get a sense of form and structure. Once all that is in place I use notation software to create fuller versions for presentation/distribution.

Here is a score that I put together for one of our weekly assignments.