Online Courses

Music Notation and Score Preparation Using Finale

Authored by Jonathan Feist


Course Code: OCWPR-101

Next Term Starts January 8

Level 1

Level 1

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


Learn to write professional-standard notation using Finale, the world's best selling music notation software. This course makes it easy to notate your arrangements and compositions, from basic notes and rhythms to more advanced markings. Through hands-on lessons and workshops, you'll understanding the subtleties of notation, as well as explore the fine points of lead sheets, vocal/choral notation, drum/guitar notation, fingerings, roadmaps, and lyrics. You'll also explore more complex techniques designed to speed up your notation process dramatically, and learn to control the nuances of your music's look and feel to produce clear, professional-quality music. By the end of the course, you will have mastered the most powerful functions of this versatile tool, and learned the techniques used by the most experienced, accomplished music engravers and writers.

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Upon completing this course, you will have learned to:

  • Use Finale to create most kinds of notation, including great-looking lead sheets, orchestral scores, arrangements, and teaching/analytical materials
  • Enter notes, lyrics, chord symbols, articulations and expressions, and create scores with multiple staves
  • Master dozens of shortcuts to dramatically speed up your music entry, score layout, part copying, and more
  • Perform advanced notation such as notation for guitar, keyboard, and percussion, as well as notation of your own invention
  • Notate in accordance with quality standards and conventions of contemporary notation practice
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Lesson 1: Writing a Melody

  • Entering Finale and Creating a New Document
  • The Finale Interface
  • Working with Text
  • Using Menus
  • Entering Notation: Key Signatures
  • Adding Notes with Simple Entry
  • Triplets
  • Accidentals
  • Adding Notes with Speedy Entry
  • Deleting Extra Measures with the Mass Mover

Lesson 2: Key Signatures, Time Signatures, and Clefs

  • Key Signatures
  • Select Region
  • Time Signatures
  • A Time Signature Anecdote
  • The Solution!
  • Clefs

Lesson 3: Lead Sheets

  • Chord Symbols
  • Measure Numbers and Barlines
  • Transposing a Lead Sheet

Lesson 4: Lyrics

  • Entering Lyrics
  • Multiple Verses
  • Word Extensions
  • Adjusting Lyrics
  • Shifting Lyrics to Other Notes
  • Using Word Processing Software for Lyrics
  • Entering Lyrics Using Click Assignment
  • Other Uses for Lyrics

Lesson 5: Expressive Markings

  • Adding Articulations
  • Metatools
  • Mass Mover Shortcuts
  • Adding Expressions
  • Creating an Expression
  • Hairpins and Other Smart Shapes

Lesson 6: Multiple Staves

  • Adding, Moving, and Deleting Staves
  • Grouping Staves
  • Customizing Staves
  • Hiding Measure Numbers and Moving Staves
  • Adding Expressions to Multi-Staff Music
  • Staff Styles
  • Meta Tools
  • Extracting Parts

Lesson 7: Shortcuts

  • The Default Document
  • Creating a Default Document
  • Customizing a Default Document
  • Another Customization
  • Document Templates
  • Creating New Documents with Templates
  • Creating Libraries

Lesson 8: Page Layout

  • The Page Layout Tool
  • Setting Margins
  • System Optimization
  • Adding a Cover Page
  • Exporting Notation

Lesson 9: Roadmaps

  • A Roadmap Primer
  • Easy Repeats
  • The Repeat Tool
  • Adding a First Ending
  • Adding a Second Ending
  • Segnos and Codas
  • Codas

Lesson 10: Fine Tuning Graphics

  • Note Spacing
  • Manually Respacing Notes
  • Special Tools
  • Moving the Sharp
  • Changing Noteheads
  • Designing Shapes

Lesson 11: Layers: Choral Scores and Drum Set Notation

  • Layers and Voices
  • Drum Set Notation
  • Layers and Chord Charts

Lesson 12: Fingerings, Tablature, and Other Instrument-Specific Notation

  • Fingerings
  • Applying Fingerings
  • String Numbers
  • Tablature
  • Editing Tablature
  • Bonus Technique 1: Guitar Fretboard Diagrams
  • Bonus Technique 2: Drum Stickings



The ability to read music notation is required.

No Required Textbook

Software Requirements

  • Finale (full version), see discount details below*

*Berklee Online and MakeMusic have come together to offer an educational discount on Finale. Once you enroll in the course, you will be able to purchase this package at the discounted price through the Required Course Materials link on your My Home page. Early enrollment is encouraged to ensure software activation prior to the start of the course.

Mac Users

  • OS X 10.9 Mavericks or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Windows Users

  • Windows 7 or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Hardware Requirements

  • MIDI keyboard (recommended)
  • 2 GB RAM (4 GB recommended)
  • 500 MB hard drive space
  • Speakers or headphones
  • Webcam
  • Internet connection with at least 4 Mbps download speed ( to verify or download the Speedtest by Ookla app from your mobile app store)


Author & Instructor

Jonathan Feist is editor in chief of Berklee Press, where he has been bringing music education products to a worldwide market since 1998. He is the author and instructor of Berklee Online courses "Project Management for Musicians" and "Music Notation and Score Preparation Using Finale.” He is author of the books Project Management for Musicians (Berklee Press, 2013) and Music Industry Forms (Berklee Press, 2014) and the co-author of Essential Songwriter (Berklee Press, 2004) and The Berklee Practice Method Teacher's Guide (Berklee Press, 2004). He has also written hundreds of articles about music, published through, Keyboard Magazine, MakeMusic's Finale blog, and Berklee’s TakeNote online magazine. As an editor, he is credited on over two hundred books about music. Jonathan is a composer, songwriter, and photographer. He holds a bachelor's and master's degree in composition from New England Conservatory of Music.


Shane Adams is a twice GRAMMY nominated music educator, and award-winning producer, and songwriter. Shane is president of Artist Accelerator and is a founding instructor for Berklee Online, where he has taught lyric writing and songwriting since 2003.

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Shane is a featured songwriter and instructor for the Taylor Swift Education Center at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum where he received their TOP TEN HITMAKER award for 2014. He co-developed their groundbreaking “Words and Music” curriculum which has enabled thousands of elementary through high school students to learn to the craft of songwriting. Shane has served on the Hall of Fame’s museum expansion advisory board and has facilitated other music outreach programs such as “Poetry in Motion” co-sponsored by the Nashville Arts Commission and the NCAA Women’s Final Four.

In 2013, Shane was named the Music Industry Professional of the Year by Chowan University, and in 2005 Shane earned the Tennessee-Songwriter-Association-International’s highest honor, the Hallman Award, for outstanding contributions to the songwriting community.

Shane is currently the featured composer for Fjor Films and has produced the music and scored several independent film projects, including Fortune Cookie (featured at both the Sundance and Hollywood Film Festivals).

Shane writes for iSing Magazine, and is an internationally recognized songwriting lecturer and music production panelist.

He is currently developing two songwriting apps for the iPad platform, and is in pre-production as c-host/co-producer for “Studio Soundtrack,” a songwriting radio program for National Public Radio. Read Less


Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at

We can also answer basic questions in the comments below. Please note that all comments are public.