There is a tendency in just about everyone’s career as a freelance person or small business owner to try and be “everything for everyone”. We are always tempted to say, “Yes, I can handle that”, when that may not always be true. Yes, we should use the opportunities that customers provide us to learn more and grow in our capabilities, but there is a time and place to realize that maybe your company is not the most suitable option for an aspect of a project or possibly, the project entirely.
This mentality of always advocating what is best for the client is a hallmark of any service-based business. At Engraver’s Mark Music we are first and foremost a service-based business. We did not design the software or build the printers we use; we are a service, in service of the needs of our clients to help them achieve their success. As a service-first company, we provide solutions to the challenges our clients face. Sometimes, that solution lies outside our business.
I recently had the pleasure of getting to know a new client and explore some possibilities for future work. Mainly, this client was looking for a partner to assist with music preparation for scoring sessions and independent projects, which is something Engraver’s Mark Music does every day. However, at the onset, this client needed the skills of an orchestrator. To be honest, it was a tempting decision - to put myself forward as an orchestrator (in order to take on more work), or to put the needs of the client first. While I do possess the skills to orchestrate, that did not necessarily mean I was the best option for my new client and the needs of this project.
So, what did I do? I referred this project over to David Shipps and his team at DAS Music Group. The client really needed the expertise and knowledge of someone dedicated to orchestration, not just music preparation. David is a world-class orchestrator (check out his IMDB), and I have been privileged to partner with him and the entire DAS Music Group team for many years on a wide variety of projects. I wanted my client to have the best experience regarding orchestration, and that meant I needed to give this project to another company who I felt could ensure precisely that. With David and his team in the lead, I knew that my client had the right people in the right places to make the project a success.
For a client, the goal is to trust your service provider not to lead you astray. Can you trust them enough to send you to someone else? While it may seem counterintuitive, your most reliable service provider might very well be the one who tells you to call someone else. That is the guy you can really trust. Can you trust the people you call like that?
The success of Engraver’s Mark Music relies not only on the expertise and capabilities we have and continue to refine, but on the success of our clients and their projects. The success of the project and the client must come before our own. Even in those moments when I am passing my client off to another service provider, I feel that focusing on the client’s needs first and foremost will always turn out best for me in the end as well.
If you need some help with music preparation and printing, Engraver’s Mark Music is here for you. If you need help with orchestrating, I strongly encourage you to contact David Shipps and his team at DAS Music Group. If you are not sure what you need, please contact me and I will be honored to help walk you through any questions or ideas you have. At Engraver’s Mark Music, our service-based business is in service to the needs of our clients and finding the best solutions for them no matter where they are.
As you’ve seen on our website, we have multiple services to offer, custom music printing and different tools to help composer, arrangers, orchestrators, publishers and artists bring their music to the world. We are always looking for new ways and resources to give our clients the best option in each of these areas because the best way to serve a client is to make sure they have the best solution for their particular project. And when we find a new and better option for our clients, we want to partner with them!
I am excited to announce a new partnership with
My Sheet Music Transcriptions! Transcribing audio into music notation is a basic task for any musician, yet it is a complex skill that requires lots of time and attention to detail. Oriol and his team at My Sheet Music Transcriptions has so impressed me with the quality of their work and their philosophy as a company (for example, they provide you with their source file, Finale or Sibelius, as part of their final transcription) that I wanted to ensure Engraver’s Mark Music was aligned with them. The quality of their work is so high, I wanted all my clients to know about them and to consider them for their music transcription needs. My Sheet Music Transcriptions has offices in the US, UK, EU and elsewhere so they truly have a global reach; no matter where you are, they are the best option for your music transcription needs.
If you are looking for some lead sheet transcriptions or a transcription for just about anything (piano covers, guitar tabs, piano vocal scores, music arrangements, and jazz solos), I strongly recommend you contact Oriol and his team and see what they can do for you! Just let them know you heard about My Sheet Music Transcriptions through Engraver’s Mark Music and be ready to be amazed! (check out their reviews)
So, in my previous post I mentioned the basic tech you needed for music engraving (click here if you have not read that blog). Now, I wanted to give you a bit more insight into the specific tech (mostly hardware, but some software) that we use here at Engraver’s Mark Music. These tools have changed and transformed over the years as the music notation programs we use and the demands of the industry have changed.
Without further ado, here we go:
1. Elgato StreamDeck – this is such a good tool, whether you are using it in conjunction with programs like JetStream (for Finale, see my blog post on that particular program here) or Notation Express (for Sibelius and Dorio) or just using it as a trigger for your own custom hotkeys or macros, it can really open up new options and workflows. There are so many possibilities depending on how you are using each program that it can be intimidating, but it is worth the effort to think through your workflows and how a tool like this could help eliminate steps or dozens of mouse clicks. Get one and have some fun with it!
2. Keyboard – not your midi keyboard, I mean your actual computer keyboard. This might seem like a very small detail, but if you’re going to be spending hours and hours a day using it, it should be a good one. I recommend getting a gaming keyboard that suits your style and feels comfortable. Yes, they are bit more expensive than just a standard external keyboard, but the build quality, sensitivity of the keys and the ability to customize functions and keys is worth it. I use a Microsoft Sidewinder X4 keyboard (not the newest version, but still functions fine for my purposes). I also prefer a wired keyboard (more on that in just a bit). The Sidewinder has a great feel, very rugged build and tons of other features. Again, if you are going to be using something all day, make sure it is high quality. This keyboard certainly is.
3. Mouse – as with the keyboard, this tool should also be another place where you invest in quality and really take your time finding the right one the fits your hand. It is no fun at all to have constant wrist pain because you chose a poor mouse that didn’t fit your hand. I have gone through probably half a dozen mice over the years, from basic ones to high end gaming mice. Again, I would recommend using a gaming mouse; they are better built, customizable and generally have a host of other features that make them much more useful than a standard 2 button mouse. I use a Redragon m901 Perdition gaming mouse and could not be happier. It has customizable weights, and 18 programable buttons. I use these to set up custom hotkey triggers for different often used functions in either Finale or Sibelius. That way, I do not even have to take my hand off the mouse to reach for a button on my StreamDeck; I have so many additional functions literally at my fingertips.
4. USB Switch – as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, we use PCs and Macs here at Engraver’s Mark Music. On one particular project, I had to use Finale and Sibelius, on both PC and Mac (that’s right, 4 different programs essentially) simultaneously as there were multiple composers and orchestrators who all had their own systems. Man did my brain go nuts trying to remember all the key combinations and shortcuts across all those different platforms. The nice thing with this switch is that I can use the same mouse, keyboard, midi keyboard and my StreamDeck with both my PC and Mac, switching between the two machines with a simple press of a button. I even reprogrammed a few keys on my Mac Mini to mimic the same keys as my PC, so I do not have to remember completely different sets of shortcuts. Another simple tool that allows me to adjust to any system my clients have with literally the press of a button.
5. Bulk Rename Utility (PC) and Renamer (Mac) – these two files renaming programs are super powerful. When you have a large project, there can literally be hundreds or thousands of files to manage. Having a consist file naming system is critical. These two programs allow you to do multiple file name changes to any number of files simultaneously, saving potential hours of time. This has been especially helpful for me with different publishing companies we work with and having to update older files.
As with all new tech, or “new to you” tech, there can be a learning curve and it may feel like a step backwards. Remember, sometimes the benefits of a new workflow or piece of equipment do not show up immediately. Take your time and see what truly works for you. The benefits might not only be in time saved doing a specific task but may show up later in a project where now you have new options and workflows available to you because of an adjustment you made early on. Good luck and enjoy some new tools in the New Year!
I get asked a lot about what tools or tech we use here in the shop at Engraver’s Mark Music or requests from new music engravers, orchestrators and alike about what tools they need in their office to get up to speed. Well, there are a lot of different resources, how-to’s, and opinions out there on what you need or what is worth your time and money. What works best for you may not work as well or be as valuable to others (see my review of the JetStream Finale controller for a fine example of what I mean).
What I can say is after 15+ years of music engraving, editing and printing, there are some important/essential tools that I feel anyone in this field should have. It’s actually not that much so don’t get too concerned! If you want a blog about the different music sample libraries to spend thousands of dollars on, this is not it.
Ok, so here’s my list of essential tools for everyone:
These tools are really all the basics that you need. There are dozens of other tools and tech you can get into like the Elgato StreamDeck, Keyboard Maestro, AutoHotKey, and others that can make you more efficient “power-user” for Finale, Sibelius or Dorico. Again, all these tools are great and provide amazing functionality, but they are not essential.
In addition to these tools, here are some of the digital resources I follow to help me learn more about the latest ideas and tools in the industry:
As part of your New Year’s Resolutions, check out all these different resources and tips and try some new ideas and tech! This is a great time to evaluate your workflows and make the changes that will save you time and frustration.
If you need any help or advice, get in touch with us here and we will be happy to assist and guide you. Also, if you are interested in one-on-one Finale instruction, we offer custom tailored lessons to your specific needs for $30 per half-hour, or $50 per hour. Just reach out to us and we will take care of everything!
Sammy Sanfilippo, CEO of Engraver's Mark Music