Creating Instrument Changes in Sibelius

Q: I have a score with percussion parts defined as one line staves. However, I want them to be five line staves. The only thing I could find in the Sibelius Reference is how to address this situation when you are first creating instruments. How can I do this?

A: Fortunately, this one’s pretty easy. It’s done with the Instrument Change feature in Sibelius.


Go to the beginning of the score. In Sibelius 6, go to Create > Other > Instrument Change. In Sibelius 7, choose Change from the Instruments panel of the Home tab. Select “Percussion, 5 lines”. Ok the dialog. The cursor will be loaded blue. Click to the left of the first bar for the one line staff you want to change.

Note that you can also use instrument changes anywhere within a piece, for instance, to change Flute to Piccolo or Oboe to English Horn.

That’s it! That’s all there is to it.


for Laura

Sibelius Gap Before Bar – A Positive Feature With Negative Offsets

Q: I have a very strange Sibelius error that I can’t fix. The piece I am working on shows brackets in the middle of a system that I cannot delete without that all the brackets in the whole piece get deleted. I don’t remember how it ended up there, and I am sure I saved the file in a normal state. After opening it, though, it was like this:


Any idea what happened and how I could fix this?

A: Sibelius has a little move handle that appears when you click in a certain place just to the front of a staff:

more >> “Sibelius Gap Before Bar – A Positive Feature With Negative Offsets”

Controlling Symbols, Hooks & Dashed Extension Lines in Sibelius & Finale

Q: I am currently studying Elaine Gould’s “Behind Bars” and on page 30 she states: “Terminate the octave transposition with a corner”. In Finale, octave lines seem to automatically end with a corner whereas in Sibelius the line finishes as a vertical stroke which the writer advises to avoid.

How can I make a proper corner at the end of the extension line in Sibelius, if at all possible?

A: Both Finale and Sibelius by default use line strokes rather than shapes to create both the horizontal extension line and the vertical end “hook” for the Octave up and Octave down symbols and other lines.

Both programs also allow the use of a Symbol to end a line, so you can end a line with an  arrowhead, corner or any other shape. The advantage of using vector lines for this is that it allows the engraver to precisely mate the line width of the extension line and the hook very precisely so that the line and hook appear to be an extension of the same line.

more >> “Controlling Symbols, Hooks & Dashed Extension Lines in Sibelius & Finale”

Instrument Name Positioning in Finale

As a professional music copyist, I’m always interested in the alternate solutions and workarounds that composers and arrangers use in Finale to achieve specific tasks. Instrument names is an area where I’ve seen a number of interesting workarounds.

If you review typeset works by different publishers, you’ll discover there are several different concurrent standards for placing instrument names in a full score. My goal with this blog post is to show you the proper way to achieve these standard placements in Finale, and hopefully, ultimately save you some time in the bargain.

more >> “Instrument Name Positioning in Finale”

Vertical Spacing of Staves and Systems in Finale

Q: I’m working on an orchestral score in Finale, and I’m having some trouble with the vertical staff spacing. Is there something like the Space Systems evenly tool, but for staves within a system? Finale’s leaving a big margin on the bottom! Thanks!

With orchestral scores, one system very often represents a full page of music, and so in this case, we want to adjust the vertical positioning between the staves themselves, rather than the distance between systems to create the proper look. Fortunately, Finale offers some great tools for this purpose.

more >> “Vertical Spacing of Staves and Systems in Finale”

Realization Reversed : from Performance to the Page

Western music notation is a fixed set of rules devised for expressing something that, by nature, is not fixed. Our current notation system has been culled and pruned over the last several centuries from numerous musical symbols and instructions down to the current set.

Professional musicians not only understand the meaning of these, but are able to interpret them with appropriate variation and nuance based on context.

more >> “Realization Reversed : from Performance to the Page”

Finale : Feathered Beams in Cross-Staff Notation

Feathered Beams in Finale are straightforward to create in a single staff (see this tutorial).

However, creating feathered beams in a grand staff with cross-staff notation is a little more involved, so it seems like an excellent topic.

In this tutorial, we’ll examine several methods for creating cross-staff feathered beaming in Finale. Thanks to Peter Thomsen, Luke Dahn and Zuill for their contributions to this tutorial, and a shout out to Alexander Blank at Indiana University for bringing us all together on the OF NOTE blog!

more >> “Finale : Feathered Beams in Cross-Staff Notation”