Finale or Sibelius?

IDEAS, tech

Do you use notation software for worship? My recent poll shows 44% use Finale, 11% use Sibelius and 40% don’t use any at all (the rest use a variety of other notation software.)

From what I had always heard, Finale was supposedly the “industry standard” and it looks like most churches use it.

Until recently, Sibelius users could open native Finale MUS files. But all that changed with Sibelius 6. This latest version will no longer open Finale files, but will only open XML files exported from Finale and other notation software. And the XML doesn’t translate nearly as neatly as the Finale importer did.

So this has put me in a tail spin – should I start creating my arrangements and other music I write in BOTH Finale and Sibelius formats, or abandon Sibelius users completely?

If I decide to create my music in both formats this would mean I’d spend a small fortune to pay someone to convert all my Finale files to Sibelius – all 5,000+ pages of sheet music at alone. That doesn’t sound too exciting to me.

Recently a major publisher has expressed interest in distributing print versions (i.e. octavos) of some of my HymnCharts arrangements. They only want Finale files.

Then today I had the pleasure of meeting famed producer/arranger Don Marsh while I was teaching worship classes at Liberty University. He told me that, yes indeed, Finale is most certainly the industry standard and that’s all there is to it. True, he said, Sibelius may be easier to use but Finale is the norm. Major publishers who publish Mr. Marsh’s music want his originals only in Finale format.

So it looks like Finale is the winner here. A rule of thumb I generally follow is to side with the winner. If you notate music, use Finale. If you do graphics work, use Photoshop. If you build websites, use Dreamweaver, etc. In practical matters, don’t make life harder by being cute and using something artsy when the herd is using something else.

So Sibelius users, sorry about this. Maybe it’s time for you to start complaining. Perhaps Sibelius 7 will reintroduce the Finale MUS importer if you raise enough Cain. Until then, don’t uninstall version 5, or buy Finale Notepad if you need to export Finale files as XML.

Or switch to Finale. If you have any aspirations to someday have your music published, it might be a good idea.


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