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Marc Sabatella

Focus on accessibility

published6 days ago
2 min read

Hello! I am continuing my efforts to streamline the organization of Mastering MuseScore, and below you may notice the format of this newsletter is tweaked a bit to better reflect the structure of the community. As always, I welcome your feedback!

You may also notice that this week there is a special focus on accessibility. I recently completed a set of free tutorials for musicians who are blind and wish to learn MuseScore 4. I encourage you to share that link with anyone you think might be interested - and in fact, send them a copy of this whole newsletter!

Mastering MuseScore

MuseScore Café

This week in the MuseScore Café with Marc Sabatella, we look at the accessibility features of MuseScore 4 - how blind and visually impaired musicians can use MuseScore, and how sighted musicians can also take advantage of some of these same capabilities for a more efficient workflow.

The MuseScore Café is live on Wednesday at 12:30 PM Eastern (16:30 GMT, or 17:30 during the winter months), and you can access past episodes in the archive.

Notation Projects

We're working on the simple piano piece I discussed in last week's MuseScore Café.

Tip of the Week

Most people know that you can use the Left and Right cursor keys to move the cursor horizontally from note to note while in note input mode. And probably most also know you can do the same in normal mode - even though there is no cursor per se, the Left and Right keys change the currently-selected element in the same way.

But Up and Down don't move the cursor vertically - they change the pitch of the selected note. If you've ever wondered if there are commands to move the cursor vertically, well, yes there are - Alt+Up and Alt+Down. These move through individual notes of a chord or between multiple voices on a staff, and also between staves. This can be very useful when entering notes on multiple staves.

In addition, Alt+Left and Alt+Right perform an important function for accessibility that can be useful for everyone: they allow you to use the keyboard to select elements other than notes and rests. With a note selected, Alt+Right will select the various other elements associated with that note, like dynamics, lyrics, or articulations.

Musicianship Skills

Music Master Class

This week in the Music Master Class with Marc Sabatella, I continue with the accessibility theme by trying something I've been wanting to do for a while - an audio-only session, where we rely entirely on our ears not just to transcribe but to analyze music.

The Music Master Class is live on Thursday at 12:30 PM Eastern (16:30 GMT, or 17:30 during the winter months), and you can access past episodes in the archive.

Musicianship Projects

This workshop is normally for Gold level members only, but this month's project is currently open to all - we're working on using our ears to learn the piano piece we discussed in last week's Music Master Class.

In Theory

Here's an observation I make fairly often, so apologies if you've seen it before, but I think it is worth repeating.

People just starting their study of theory - or getting stuck along the way - often ask, how much do successful composers, arrangers, or improvisers "use" theory while creating music. My answer is the same one I'd give if you asked how often successful writers or conversationalists "use" grammar. At one level, the answer is that it is almost never conscious - it comes automatically. At another level, though, the answer is that we are almost always using it, or we wouldn't be making sense.

And yet, we weren't born with these abilities. Whether we learned from a book or from hands-on experience, somehow we gained enough knowledge to manage to create music and sentences that people can relate to, without having to think consciously about it most of the time. That doesn't mean understanding isn't important. On the contrary, it is crucial to understand so well that it permeates our being and ceases to get in our way.

This is one reason I think of improvisation as such a core skill for musicians, not just for jazz. More so than almost any form of musical practice, it helps develop the connections that allow you to "use" theory without necessarily thinking about it.