Reviewing the reviews, part 2


Continuing an occasional series taking a look at the reviews of Sibelius 6 being published in print and online, Chad Criswell over at has posted a brief write-up. Chad says:

For the music educator, the benefits associated with the new version tracking, commenting, and classroom controls cannot be understated. Being able to tack comments into the score for students to read and revise is a godsend when compared with having to write corrections out in an email or on a piece of paper. Being able to control Sibelius 6 in a computer lab is also a significant change, and the new network enabled licensing feature allow licensed installations of the software to be moved quickly and easily from machine to machine.

In fact, Sibelius has allowed flexible network licensing since 1999, but it wasn’t until Sibelius 5 in 2007 that we really nailed the user experience for running Sibelius on a network. The Sibelius Licence Server is now in use in thousands of educational institutions around the world, handling tens of thousands of seats, and it’s an absolute breeze to set up. Even a non-specialist teacher can be up and running in a matter of minutes thanks to the incredibly simple installation and administrative interface.

It’s the foundation of this license server that has allowed us to build the Classroom Control feature for Sibelius 6 and really start to drive home the benefits of using Sibelius in a networked environment. I’m looking forward to visiting some schools later this year and seeing how this feature is being put to use in the real world. (And putting a message up on a co-worker’s screen telling them to get back to work never gets old!)

Chad also draws attention to one of my very favourite features in Sibelius 6:

Sibelius 6 also includes the addition of automatic cautionary accidentals, removing the need to manually enter them.

Sibelius has had a plug-in to add cautionary (or courtesy) accidentals since way back when, but having an automatic, built-in feature to handle this has been an absolute boon for me. When I’m producing arrangements for my choir, you can almost guarantee that, come the first rehearsal, I’ll have forgotten to run the plug-in before printing 30 copies, and we’ll get a honking wrong note out of the altos that could have been pre-empted by the plug-in. Now there’s nothing to remember: Sibelius is always keeping an eye on this for you, inserting cautionary accidentals on the fly as you input and edit notes, and I have certainly saved a good deal of rehearsal time thanks to this one feature.

Touching on the fact that both Sibelius and Finale have received major updates this summer, Chad says:

Both products [Sibelius 6 and Finale 2010] released to the public within weeks of each other, so there can be no claims of one playing catch up with the other.

Well… I’m biased, but actually I think it’s pretty clear who’s playing catch-up. Several of the new features in Finale 2010 are in fact nothing but playing catch-up (e.g. automatically incrementing rehearsal marks, which Sibelius has had since Sibelius 1.0, and chord symbols that you can attach to rhythmic positions where there are no notes, which Sibelius has likewise had since Sibelius 1.0), but that’s okay: Finale users deserve time-saving features just as much as Sibelius users do (and probably in fact need them more!).

Chad concludes:

Overall this Sibelius software upgrade is worth the money, especially if coming from an earlier version such as Sibelius 3 or 4.

Absolutely! If you’re upgrading from Sibelius 3, then not only will you get all the benefits of Sibelius 6’s amazing new features, but also equally revolutionary time-savers such as dynamic parts that update when you edit the score and which are laid out automatically, more than 1700 ready-made worksheets, the ability to compose to picture directly within Sibelius, and more features added in Sibelius 4. Or if you’re upgrading from Sibelius 4, how about support for all VST and Audio Unit instruments and effects, Panorama view, dozens of new plug-ins, hundreds of engraving improvements, and so much more.

Thanks for the review, Chad!

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