computers · concert band · jazz · marching band · Sibelius · teaching

About using measure numbers in parts and scores

I’ve been away from here for a couple of reasons, but the biggest one is that it’s marching band arranging season. It, like spring, came late this year, which is why I’m still writing. It seems it took longer for my clients to decide on music this year than usual.

Anyway, I was editing parts today – which does need to be done in Sibelius, but not as much as it used to – and I recalled a discussion I recently had with a percussion writer I work with. He uses rehearsal letters and numbers. I tend to just put in double bars where I think they are necessary and then number all measures, both in the score and in parts.

It’s been my experience as a teacher that asking kids in rehearsal to find “seven before G” is really time consuming. One way to fix that is to use the process of “count with me – beginning at letter G, one before, two, three….” I don’t recall who first used that in a rehearsal I attended, but I’ve used it ever since because it immediately involves the performers.

But saying “measure thirty-six” is much faster, and more accurate. It is almost impossible for a performer to mess it up.  (Unless he is just not paying attention. Can’t help that from here.)

Sibelius (and Finale, last I looked) can easily place measure numbers in each bar. I keep them a bit oversized on parts. That way, when the 8-1/2 X 11 inch (landscape) page is shrunk down to fit in a flip folder, they can still be read. It is a bit more cluttered? Maybe, but I think the results are worth it.

measure number example_0002

You can see that the measure numbers look awfully big. But the reduction of the page for flip folio size is about 60 or 65%, and I want them to be readable.

Once I realized that I asked my band members to write in measure numbers in pretty much every major work we rehearsed, I decided my own music would have those built-in. I do the same thing in concert band and jazz ensemble music (although then I make the numbers a little smaller, relative to the staff size.)

What do you think? Which way do you prefer?

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