2016 MOLA conference to feature notation sessions, StaffPad, Steinberg demo


Quick! When you hear the word “Sibelius,” what comes to mind? If you’re reading this blog, it’s probably the notation software. But of course, before there was Sibelius, there was Sibelius — as in Jean Sibelius, the composer of the 19th and 20th century famous for his symphonies, tone poems, and other works.

Sibelius is deeply associated with his home country of Finland, and his fellow Finns are rightly proud of his contribution to the culture and sense of national identity. This year, the Major Orchestra Librarians’ Association (MOLA) is heading to the land of Sibelius for their 34th annual conference, hosted by the Helsinki orchestras and held at the Finnish National Opera from May 13-16, 2016.

The Finnish National Opera, site of the 34th annual MOLA conference

The conference agenda is chock-full of business meetings, breakout sessions, and socializing for the MOLA membership, which consists professional librarians from performing organizations around the world. Vendors, publishers, and other music organizations will also be present at the conference.

When I’m not catching up with old friends and colleagues, or attending the many interesting sessions, I’ll be keeping busy by presenting six sessions of my own during the conference:

  • There will be a session each on Sibelius and Finale basics for beginners, where attendees will see an overview of how Sibelius or Finale works, how to set up new scores, navigate in the program, enter music and text, format scores and parts, and work effectively.
  • I’ll be doing something new this year: “User surgery” for both Sibelius and Finale. I’m hardly licensed to perform any type of real surgery, but sometimes the problems we encounter in the programs do seem like life-or-death situations! Participants will provide the questions, and in real-time we’ll do our best to devise solutions.
  • Also new this year will be a StaffPad demonstration. I’ll cover all aspects of how to work with the app and we’ll talk about the technology’s potential for wider adoption in performance contexts.
  • Finally, I’ll be jointly presenting a session with Daniel Spreadbury about the brief history of music notation technology. I’m sure that hour will fly by in no time flat!

One keynote presentation that will surely be of interest is Daniel’s demonstration on May 15 of the Steinberg notation application. Announced on Daniel’s Making Notes blog, this will be the first public display of the program; the last I had seen of it was in October of last year, when Daniel visited industry professionals in New York. I’m eager to see how things have progressed since then, and you can count on reading all about it in a report on this blog afterwards.

If you plan on attending the conference, please drop me a line!


  1. Andrei

    Geeky me would love a historic survey of music notation technology, even for a small fee, detailing pros and cons of various approaches/software, remaining challenges, a gripes/”wish list” from the professional’s view, etc. Fancy doing a video, Philip?
    Have fun in Finland!

  2. Ralph

    Philip, I hope Daniel (& Steinberg) lets you take video…. (edit it as they see fit of course) and share what you can with us here.

  3. Bob Zawalich

    Have a great time in Helsinki! Please send my best to Daniel.

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