Despite recent advances in virtual and synthesized instruments, nothing has the same sound and feel as a real piano, cello, violin, or brass section. Those with experience recording these types of instruments know you can't bring in a classically-trained player, tell them the song is in a given key, and expect them to improvise their part. Most will demand a score or some sort of arrangement. Like it or not, most clients will look to the engineer to "print something out". Now, it's perfectly legal to shrug your shoulders and say, "That's not my job." But it's much more gratifying to go all Tony Visconti-like and rip out a score! If you don't want to do this by hand, you're going to need a notation program. Sibelius is one of the leading titles in this field, but it's a deep program that requires lots of time to master. Thank goodness for training firms like ASKVideo Interactive Media. Here's what fellow Treelady engineer Dave Hidek had to say about ASKVideo's two-disc Sibelius Tutorial DVD Bundle. -GH We're all familiar with the scenario where a family is on a road trip, and the husband refuses to ask for directions because he is so sure that he can figure it out himself to make his family proud. The family does eventually arrive at their destination, but only after countless wasted hours of driving around back roads, sometimes in circles, and nearly running out of gas... twice. Surely audio-enthusiasts are nothing like this when it comes to software; we always read the manuals and brochures and always make sure that we know our software inside out before attempting to... I don't know, run a business? I'm sure that I am the only one, but I routinely find myself calling on magical powers to solve software issues, instead of swallowing my pride and learning the software correctly from a product expert-in the comfort of my home via DVD. I recently had the pleasure of watching ASKVideo's tutorial DVDs on the notation software Sibelius 4, and while I've used Sibelius for a number of years, I was surprised to find that a number of difficulties that I had been experiencing were answered during the most basic chapters. Even though I watched the helpful QuickTime videos that came with Sibelius, ASKVideo's approach was much more human and conversational, versus overly professional and impressive. The Sibelius Tutorial DVDs are narrated by product specialist Kelly Demoline, beginning with installation on both PC and Mac, and comfortably progressing through recommended equipment, and audio and MIDI setup, before beginning basic notation instruction. If you're thinking that I skipped watching these parts, I didn't, and I do not regret that decision. I was able to solve a chronic MIDI device problem that I had been simply "dealing with" in the past. The DVDs advance through every key stage of creating a professional score, from basic note entry to transposing; guitar tabs; drum notation; incorporating text and graphics; score formatting and layout; even working with video and internet publishing. Watching the introductory chapters on basic operations was a little dull, since I am quite familiar with the software, but I was able to pick up on some shortcuts that I hadn't known about as well as some CPU power-saving tricks for playback. One extremely helpful section dealt with creating worksheets, from both templates and from scratch, which I had always found confusing and am now looking forward to giving to my students this fall. The great thing about these DVDs is that they aren't afraid to admit when they might be getting into detailed aspects of Sibelius, and to avoid overload they'll let you know when you can skip a section and return after you've gotten your feet wet. ASKVideo make sure that you've been fully briefed on a topic before they move on, and they'll point out nuances of the software that may get tricky. Because Sibelius is extremely customizable, there are many preferences that the user can change resulting in drastic changes to the score. The DVDs alert you when these options are available to you (according to the topic that you are watching) and give you solutions to problems that you might be having. After watching both DVDs, I strongly believe that if someone entirely new to Sibelius were to follow the tutorial with a laptop from the beginning, they would pick up very quickly on the Sibelius philosophy while still having the convenience of watching whenever they chose. I don't believe that I have been driving in circles through the desert, but I'm excited to approach Sibelius with more accurate and time-saving directions. ($100 MSRP for bundle, $55 per disc individually;

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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