Monday, June 13, 2011

Supplement Your Income as a Copyist

One way I've been able to stay in the game and make a living as a musician and not have to get a real job was to learn how to use music notation software, like Finale or Sibelious. Most orchestras in the country have staff copyists, many churches pay to have charts prepared, some artists who use lots of different musicians have a great need for accurate music preparation, many schools public and private. That just a few examples.

It's actually quite easy to get started though the software may seem very complex at first. I use Finale's Allegro and it seems to do most everything I need. If you work at a school or a church you could get this one... Finale 2011 Academic

My secret to learning the thing? Do the tutorial. And only to the point that you think you'll need it. It's progressive, starting with entering melodies, then chord symbols, lyrics... basically at that point you have all you need for a basic lead sheet. All within a couple of hours. If you don't need to know how to do big band charts or a full orchestral score don't go that far into the tutorial.

A more basic version of Finale.... Finale SongWriter 2010

Notepad is a free, very basic version of Finale that can get you started.

Once up and going you can charge by the hour, the page or a flat fee. At first if you charge by the page, say $20, it might take you four hours to generate one page thus making five bucks an hour, but eventually you'll be doing two pages an hour or more.

I would highly recommend getting a usb keyboard to speed up the note entry process, mine... M-Audio Keystation 88ES Midi Controller or even a small one like this...  M Audio KeyRig 49 49 Key USB Keyboard Controller.

Your catalog of already charted tunes can earn you money as well, so save and back up everything. Every now and then I get a call for something I've already charted I send them the pdf (never the finale file) in the key that they want it and charge them the going rate. Usually $20 per page.

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