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need some advice when recording parts with Finale

Good afternoon,
I have previously heard of directors who record SATB parts with Finale, then have their singers listen to these tracks. What is the easiest and quickest way to enter these parts? Do you type/play each part or, do you scan the entire score and then clean it up? I normally enter notes into Finale with a keyboard and that works fine. My concern is the amount of time needed to enter each part, especially if it is a longer work. I like the idea of making one part louder than the others so that singers can hear their part. 
 
Any advice you have will be most welcome. 
Thank you.
Mark Downey
on February 15, 2014 5:16am
If you have a clean score and it has a piano part, I definitely think the quickest way is to scan the music. I prefer to have the piano part on the practice files, so scanning and cleaning it up is much quicker. If it an a Capella piece, typing it in tends to be faster. When I export the practice files, I go to studio view and send to part I want to save panned to one ear. Then I lower the volume of the other parts and pan them to the other ear. I tell my singers to wear headphones and play back the file with the volume panned up only on their part. Once they practice a few times then turn up the other ear. Finally, when they feel confident, turn down their part and just listen to the accompaniment and the other parts. 
 
I've been creating these files for my middle school chorus for several years and have about 20 pieces I've saved. You can build up a nice library of practice files over time, then when you decide to redo a piece with a new group it's already done.
on February 15, 2014 5:44am
Hi Mark-
My experience (even for longer works) is that entering parts in Finale with speedy entry is as quick as scanning scores in and tweaking them.
Once notes and accompaniment are entered I save it with SATB (or whatever) in the file name.
Then I go in and mute playback for everything but sopranos and accompaniment and save the file with an 'S' in the file name. I do this in turn for each part, and sometimes even save combinations, like SA or TB. This way people can get only files of the parts they need to practice on their own without hearing other parts, and they also have the SATB score when they're ready to test themselves with all parts playing.
This approach makes it unnecessary to make one part louder than others and it takes less than 30 seconds to make these playback adjustments and resave new files.
I never add lyrics because I think singers should follow and mark their own scores while practicing.
I don't worry about the Finale score looking exactly like the printed score (double bar lines, whether accidentals are correct for the key signature, or other simple things like that). They'll be looking at their scores, after all, and all those things just add time to the process without doing a bit of good in the hearing. This also means, for example, if there's a quarter tied to an eighth inside a measure I just enter a dotted quarter to save keystrokes. Any time saved it worth it to me, and again, they're not supposed to be watching the playback score. Even if they do then this apprach can be a teachable moment for poor rhythm readers. I do at least put the correct title of the piece in page view.
Our siingers are asked to download and install the free Finale Notepad program to use the files.
One thing I found over time: because singers like to slow things down as needed when they practice I use the tempo box in the playback field to set the initial tempo rather than using a note-attached setting in the score. I add note-attached tempo changes in the score as needed as the piece progresses. If I set the first tempo with a note-attached setting then a singer's tempo choice before playback is overridden by the note-attached setting.
Last, I don't make additional mp3 files, but I know some people do. Our singers are OK with using Notepad.
We upload our files into a members-only part of our website for access. No CDs to make!
Oh, another thing- in the past (I haven't checked recently), if a singer made tempo or other changes and then SAVED the file when closing Notepad the file wouldn't open later on. I just remind them occasionally not to save any changes when they use the files.
Hope this helps some-
Cecil Rigby
Clemson, SC
Applauded by an audience of 1
on February 15, 2014 6:12am
Hi Mark,
 
I have always put the parts in one at a time with a keybaord unless its a very clean modern edition, though the scanning software may have improved a bit since I last tried it (about 2 years ago). I can't tell from your post if you are planning to work with standard repertoire or not, but you may not need to do this - lots of generous choral directors and choir members have put MIDI files of music they have performed up on the internet.
 
Quick survey:
This is the easiest to use; if the work you want is already on this site, then you can just signpost your choir to it.
The MIDI files are already highlighted according to part: alone, with other parts quietly, or the whole thing, and your singers can just click on the version they prefer.
 
From other sites, you can download the MIDIs, import them into Sibelius/Finale/Notion and add your preferred dynamics from there,
or,  open the MIDI files in a MIDI program and change the global mixer settings
or, encourage your choir members to use VanBasco / Sweet MIDI (has a good iPad version) or other useful playback programs and have control of listening to their own part faster / slower / louder.  Van Basco's Kareoke, for example, is exactly that - it can even display the words!
 
for more MIDI resources check out:
The classical archives (http://www.classicalarchives.com/midi.html) used to be free, but now has a subscription model. But I'm normally happy to pay the few dollars if the work I need isn't anywhere else.
 
Although technically some more modern works on these sites are still in copyright, the publishers seem to be aware that MIDI files mostly lead to better performances, so they've tended to leave these sites alone. There's a *lot* of repertoire out there!
 
I have used these resources a extensively, and would still signpost my singers towards them, especially where the rhythms are difficult. However, having just completed a Masters in Pyschology, I heard a lot about passive vs active learning, and a concept called embodied cognition. Choir members who just listen to the MIDI files still don't seem to be as solid in their parts as others who go home and play them on the Piano - I thought this was to do with the higher level of general music training, but it may in fact not be exactly that.
One branch of embodied cognition research (very briefly) suggests that if you actually have to reach out and cause something to happen (like press a piano key) you learn more actively about the result that comes back. And since what a choir member is trying to do is get a memory of the sound of the note into their head, the act of having to reach out for it may be a reason it sticks better than just listening passively and trying to have the voice "follow along"
 
So if you'll forgive the plug, I've tried putting this concept into a mobile app so that singers can actually play their notes for themselves, even when they don't play the piano. The links are at: www.play-my-note.com
I'll put an announcement up later today, but if you (or anyone else reading this thread) wants to try it, I can send an iPhone promo code to anyone who emails me. (Android and Kindle versions are out too, but there's no promo code system)
 
Regardless, I wish you every success with your choral directing; it's a great credit to you that you contemplate putting in so much extra time and effort to help your choir members learn their notes.
 
Marion Wood
barlines2(a)gmail.com
on February 15, 2014 7:36am
I encourage my singers to download the free Finale Notepad and then give them my Finale file. Then they can then play it back with control over tempo, what instruments each voice is played in, and which voices are playing. They can sing with their own part only  and add some or all other voices to sing against. It's a very efficient system for learning music.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on February 15, 2014 7:40am
Be sure to check online as well. There are many of us who have files already created. I usually search for them by googling the title along with "alto" or "tenor". It is amazing what is available now. You can then copy the link or file and add it to your choir's website.
 
I am fairly good at Finale, so I typically will input the score myself using the keyboard, but a lot depends on how complicated the score is and how well the scan comes out.
Good luck.
Susan Reilly
on February 15, 2014 11:59am
I do this quite a bit for my choir, and I play the notes in with the keyboard and Hyperscribe as an entire SATB score.  I then go to studio view and then assign different woodwind instruments to the voices.  I usually change the highlighed voice to oboe, english horn or bassoon, and leave other others on flute or clarinet.  I then change the dynamic of the highlighed voice to FFF and the other voices to MP, or some similar difference between the parts.  I save this score as an audio file (MP3) and then go back and rearrange the instruments and dynamics for each of he parts, saving each as an audio file (MP3).  My choirs love this because they can hear their own part quite clearly, and also hear what the other voices are doing.  I love it when I use a piece from cpdl.org that is already in the Finale format, as it makes my life much easier whe the score is already created.
 
Good luck!  Your choirs are fortunate to have you!!
 
Nan Beth Walton
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