On Location : Instrument Changes in Sibelius

Robert: My question is about Instrument Change placement in Sibelius. In a percussion part, at the end of a system, I want to show a five-line staff for the new instrument, along with the preview clef, but Sibelius moves the five line staff to the start of the subsequent system, rather than allowing it to start just before the new clef:

correct / preferred
correct / preferred


I know that I can manually (or with the inspector) move the instrument change to the left a bit. However, when I respace the part, the Instrument change will revert to the end of the system.

I’ve tried several approaches. One is invisible rests in another layer, to which the changes are attached…then the rests are hidden. With creativity, the rests can be arranged visually OK. I also know about the Inspector x-axis.

The question really only comes up at the end of systems. I’m wondering if there is something simple that I’m missing.


Steve Rouse

Hi Steve,

First, to address your question directly based on your examples. Have you tried adding “real” rests at the end of the bar prior to the inst change bar to preserve placement of the instrument change on an earlier beat, and then clearing those rests to achieve proper positioning? (for the case as in your example where the Instrument Change is preceded by a whole rest.)
  1. Create “real” rests in the bar prior to the instrument change
  2. Insert the instrument change on the last beat of the previous bar, so it is physically attached to the last beat of the bar before the instrument change, rather than to the downbeat of the following bar.
  3. Locate the Bar Rest (zero) key in the second keypad, and
  4. Clear the rests.

You will note that by default, the clef will appear fully in front of the inst. change, but the instrument change itself will not shift to the downbeat of the following bar when you re-space. As you move the clef toward the right barline, when you respace, Sibelius will allocate space for it, so you’ll still need to be aware of this when respacing.

In spite of the fact that there is no perfect solution here particularly if you are dealing with both score and parts in the same file), this is generally a fast and solid workaround.

Keep in mind that if your score and parts reside in the same file, you may have page and system breaks between the score and part may not be identical. You can use “Keep Page Breaks > But Turn Into System Breaks” in Multiple Part Appearance > Layout so these remain consistent between score and parts.

FWIW, if I were doing a lot of switching back and forth between pitched and un-pitched instruments in the same staff for percussion, I would consider using the “Percussion [5 Lines]” instrument for the non-pitched instruments, with each non-pitched instrument on a different space or line:


This allows easily switching between pitched and un-pitched percussion with a bit less visual clutter, and a lot less tweaking, and also doesn’t require that you match the page and line breaks between score and parts.


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