Hi all!  Yes it has been a while since I’ve posted. Good news is I do have some new Sibelius posts coming soon! But I first wanted to share some exciting news about what I’ve been doing over the past five months.

In August of 2013 I was fortunate to be called to play trombone on Martina McBride’s new album “Everlasting” and work with legendary producer Don Was. The album was recorded at Blackbird Studios and in  Nashville. The great horn arrangements on this project were written (in Sibelius) by my friend and Nashville’s own Jim Hoke.The horn section consisted of, Vinnie Ciesielski and Steve Patrick on trumpets,Jim Hoke and Randy Leago on saxes and myself on trombone. The album is a collection of some of Martina’s favorite classic R&B songs. This project is first class all the way. The production is fabulous, the musicians and vocalists on the tracks are top notch and even the packaging is beautiful and classy! As for Martina McBride, what can I say?  Her performance is classic, stunning, haunting, energizing, I could go on but check out the album and hear it for yourself.


(L to R: Vinnie Ciesielski, John Hinchey, Steve Patrick, Don Was, Martina McBride, Jim Hoke and Randy Leago)

In early 2014 I was asked to play trombone in the horn section for Martina’s 2014 tour and I of course jumped at the chance! The touring horn section is Vinnie Ciesielski on trumpet, Tyler Summers on tenor sax, Randy Leago on baritone sax and myself on trombone. For a taste of the tour check out the official video on “Come See About Me.”

Martina McBride tour band: vocalists, Shelly Fairchild, Wendy Moten, Shandra Bennett, drums, Greg Herrington, bass Glen Snow, guitar, Greg Foresman, music director/keyboards Jim Medlin, horns, John Hinchey, Randy Leago, Tyler Summers and Vinnie Ciesielski.

It was been a fabulous experience! Martina McBride’s management, band and road crew are some of the best in the business and an absolute joy to travel and perform with. So please visit Martina’s website and see when we are coming your way. This is a show that is not to be missed! If you are already  Martina McBride fan, fear not! We are doing many of her classic hits but with a new twist. If you are someone who would not normally come to a show by a country artist, you are in for a treat. We are doing the R&B flavored songs from the “Everlasting” album and a few more surprises. Simply put if you are a music lover, do yourself a favor and come see a world class vocalist at the top of her game. I promise you will not be disappointed!


P.S. Special thanks to Gary Kirchner for the great photo of Martina McBride in Greely Co. 7/4/2014 at the top of this post.


Hi all just a quick note. I will be doing a free Sibelius 7 workshop at Sweetwater in Ft. Wayne Indiana saturday January 18, 2014 from 10am to noon.

Topics to include:

• Why put notes on paper?

• Basic Sibelius concepts

• Sibelius Signal flow

• Keys to efficient workflow

• Tips to keep your musicians and clients happy

• Tutorial on drum set notation

• How to work better, faster and smarter in Sibelius

Click here for more info and to reserve a seat!



Do you miss the days of grabbing a pencil jotting down notes quickly on paper but you realize we live and work in a world of computer generated notation? Do you wish there was a way do both, draw notes on a staff by hand and have the notes magically appear in  Sibelius or Finale? Then this is the app for you!

I’m really excited about a new notation app that has recently become available for iOS (iPhone 4/5 and iPad 2/3) and Android phones and tablet. It’s called NotateMe and it’s from the talented folks at Neuratron. The best place to get a full overview of NotateMe is to click on this hyperlink to the Neuratron website. There are also several reviews online for this app already including this one from my friend Philip Rothman over at the Sibelusblog. Click on this hyperlink to read his review “NotateMe music handwriting app out of beta; v 1.0 released.” If you want to do some in depth reading about NotateMe and it’s features please review both of this links.

Let me sum up NotateMe in a nutshell and then I’ll move on to some tips because I JUST LOVE THIS APP and can’t wait to show you how to get more out of it.

NotateMe enables you to use your finger or a stylus to draw notes and an essential list of other music symbols onto a staff on the screen of an iOS or Android tablet or phone.  That notation is then translated into a computer notation file (MusicXML) which you can then open in Sibelius or Finale or any other app that will open MusicXML files. It will also export scores as PDF or MIDI files.


Yes really! NotateMe was in public beta for several months and during that time I played around with it and soon started to use it to get work done. I use it primarily on my iPhone 5s because I always have my iPhone with me. That is the beauty of this app, I always have it with me. Downtime at a recording session or gig, downtime waiting for my daughters at their various lessons and school activites. My car broke down a few weeks ago.  I had to wait 2 hours for a tow truck, I got some transcribing done that I needed for a project that had a deadline looming.


1. Use a stylus and not just any stylus. I highly recommend the Jot Pro by Andonit. I tried another stylus that had a rubber tip and it wasn’t much better than using my finger. Yes, you can use your finger but you will get much better results with the Jot Pro. It is the difference between writing a on staff paper with a magic marker or a nice wooden pencil sharpened to a crisp point. The Jot Pro has a little plastic disc on the tip that is the key.  You can see what you are doing and make fine marks. Just be careful to keep that disc clean so you don’t get any debris on that disc that might scratch your screen.

Jot Pro

2. Noodle and Doodle! Don’t open this app for the first time and try to write a complicated piano piece with lots of cross staff beaming, septuplets and hundreds of accidentals. Start with a single staff write some scales and simple melodies to get the hang of it. Then write a simple quartet of some kind get comfortable with quarter notes and eights and work your way up. NotateMe learns your handwriting style over time and to this end, doodle all the different symbols it supports. Read the list of supported symbols in the “How To Use NotateMe” guide and write them. Play, have fun! There is a certain charm to writing notes by hand enjoy it.

3. Adjust and don’t obsess You may find that you have to slightly adjust your handwriting style. Everyone’s handwriting is different. As you write in the input area pay attention to the print area and see what you are doing that gets quickly recognized and what you have redo. You’ll get a feel for it. You generally may have to make some symbols smaller than you are used to and a bit further apart. Another thing you may find is, you may do a few quick strokes that look sloppy in the input area but NotateMe knows what you mean and the correct symbol appear in the print area. Don’t obsess with getting the input cleaned up, if it shows in the print area, you’ve got it! Move on.

4. Take advantage of copy and paste! It’s easy to get lulled back into the writing music by hand feeling and start writing out everything. This is a hybrid process, organic writing by hand, coupled with all the advantages of working on a computer. If you have a figure just right, lasso it (it turns blue) tap and hold for the copy icon, now tap and paste it in as needed. You will really gain some speed of input this way.


5. Use Dropbox! The notation files for NotateMe are stored on your device but it also gives you the option to link to a Dropbox account. If you don’t have a Dropbox account get one, they are free. This way you will have your files backed up.  Also when you export as a MusicXML file, the file will be in your computer’s Dropbox folder which you can easily get to open your file in Sibelius or Finale.

Thoughts about workflow

Is NotateMe a fully featured notation program? No it’s not but it is a great tool and bridge app for notating by hand and getting that notation into Sibelius or Finale. It has all the notation symbols I need to get the vast majority of my sketching and ideas down, notes, simple dynamics, lyrics and chord symbols. The rest of the details and formatting I can do in  Sibelius or Finale. For sketching and notating ideas on the run, it’s perfect and it transfers to  Sibelius or Finale much faster than notes on a scrap of manuscript paper or a bar napkin!

Check back, there are more NotateMe tutorials to come!


BTW: You can purchase this great app on the Android app store or the iTunes app store.


Sibelius 7 Playback Tips: Tweaking ritard and accelerando lines


In my last blog post in this series Sibelius 7 Playback tips: Tweaking Gliss lines we looked at using the Inspector to tweak gliss lines. In this post we’ll use a very similar technique to fine tune the way ritard, accelerando and all other tempo based lines affect playback. For the rest of the post I will […]


Sibelius 7 Playback tips: Tweaking Gliss lines


This is the first in a series on tutorials on tweaking  Sibelius 7 playback. The ways to tweak playback in Sibelius 7 can go pretty deep if you really want to dig in. But there are also many simple steps you can to take to improve the playback of your scores. Meet the Inspector! In Sibelius […]


Hi It’s Me I’m Back

Thumbnail image for Hi It’s Me I’m Back

Hi it’s me I’m back. 2013 is almost over and you may have noticed I took a hiatus from blogging. No worries all is well! I’ve been producing, arranging, and, playing trombone in addition to all the usual things people do with their lives. I’ve got some Sibelius posts planned and also posts about some […]


Sibelius Tutorial: Working with Large Scores Part 3: Extra staves, now you see them now you don’t!

Thumbnail image for Sibelius Tutorial: Working with Large Scores Part 3:  Extra staves, now you see them now you don’t!

In the last post I showed you how to use plug-ins to quickly voice 4 horns and setup staves for the score (Horns 1&2 and Horns 3&4) and also separate staves for each of the 4 horn parts.   As one of my blog readers quickly pointed out this is all well and good but […]


Sibelius Tutorial: Working with Large Scores Part 2: How do you eat an elephant?

Thumbnail image for Sibelius Tutorial: Working with Large Scores Part 2:  How do you eat an elephant?

In my first post in this series I introduced you to the Focus Family and Focus Set plug-ins, which I find indispensable when working with large scores.  Let’s look at a few more plug-ins that make things move a bit faster in large scores when working in Sibelius. On bite at a time…but how big? There […]


Sibelius Tutorial: Working With Large Scores: Part 1 Focus Family Plug-ins


In this series of blog posts I’m going to share some tips on working with large scores in Sibelius. Some scores are just plain BIG! When working on a large score, no matter what the ensemble, the score page and your monitor are only so big.  The more staves you have, the smaller they must […]


Sibelius: Yeah, there’s a plugin for that: ‘Run Plugins By Name’ and a follow up to Keyboard Shortcuts

Thumbnail image for Sibelius: Yeah, there’s a plugin for that: ‘Run Plugins By Name’ and a follow up to Keyboard Shortcuts

One of the the great things about writing a blog like this is, I learn new things all the time.  Master plug-in programmer Bob Zawalich left a comment on my last blog post about a plug-in of his that fits in with my “Key of the Day” scheme.  This is a plug-in I was not aware […]