Using JW Change’s Sequence Editor in Finale to automate tasks


If you use Finale, you know how customizable it is. You also know that many of its powerful features are scattered across its tools, dialog, and sub-dialogs, making certain tasks a chore to execute.

Jari Williamsson has created a suite of Finale plug-ins for Windows and Mac to make those features more user-friendly. There are so many great plug-ins that each deserves its own blog post. For now, we’re going to drill down on one specific feature of one plug-in: the Sequence Editor of JW Change, in which you can build a custom sequence that changes existing elements in the Finale document through a general user interface.

Learn how to use this powerful tool in this video tutorial. A transcript follows, with links.


You’ll first want to download the plug-in and install it using the general directions for Windows and Mac. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to go.

Even in JW Change, there’s so much to explore even without using the Sequence Editor. What I’ll first do is show you a series of individual tasks that I’ve accomplished with JW Change. As I do these tasks, behind the scenes JW Change is remembering what I’ve done — which will come in handy later, when I want to build a sequence from them.

Here, I have an example of some trumpet music for which I’d like to create drum cues. A series of tasks must be performed to get this to look right.

After I copy and paste the music into the drum set staff, I’ll open JW Change if it isn’t already open, and run each of these tasks individually.

  • I’ll first resize the notes to 75%, in Note Entries > Resize.
  • Next, I’ll set the noteheads to a single pitch — in this case, G5 — in Noteheads > Single Pitch.
  • Now, I’ll flip the stems up in Stems > Direction.
  • I’ll set the position of the rests in Rests > Vertical Level, with Relative unchecked, so that the rests move to the fixed position where I want them.
  • For each of the Slurs, Hairpins, and Expressions, I’ll set the Visibility to Hide Everywhere.
  • If I’m concerned with playback, I’ll head back to Note Entries and set Playback to Mute.

This looks great! But I certainly don’t want to manually run this series of tasks every time.

Fortunately, this is where the Sequence Editor comes in.

I’ll open the Sequence Editor… The first thing I’ll do is click on Add Group… I’ll name this my Custom Sequences, but you can call it anything you like, and add a description.

Next, I’ll need to click on Add Sequence… and name the specific sequence — in this case, Drum set cues.

From here, I can select some or all of the tasks that I’ve previously run in the current session of Finale, and add them to the sequence. You can change their order, delete them, or even edit them within the Sequence Editor, if you so choose.

Once that’s done, I’ll click Save and my sequence is ready to go!

So, let’s see it in action.

So much easier! For this specific case, I’ll want to do two more things. First, I’ll add slash notation to the drum part. Because the notes are in Layer 1, I’ll modify my Slash Notation style to apply to Layer 2, by going to the Staff Tool > Define Staff Styles… > Alternate Notation Settings… and changing the style to apply to Layer 2. I’ll also want to show the elements of the other layers here. I’ll then apply the Staff Style.

Finally, I’ll go to Utilities > Change > Ties… and set the Tie Direction to Over.

If you have a macro editor like Keyboard Maestro, you can program these three elements — your JW Change sequence, Slash Notation Staff Style, and Change Ties into one macro.

I hope you enjoyed this video and that it opens up a world of possibilities for you when you use Finale.


  1. Jon Burr

    Hey Philip
    This is great! The sequence editor is fantastic!
    A challenge I face with drum parts is playback… creating a respectable drum part while having it play back, given the usual client requirement of a playback file.
    The depicted method would work great on a non-playback new staff created for the sake of making a drum part; the playback staff could be hidden in the score.
    The JW Change sequencer would also work fantastically well on the method I’ve arrived at, which involves creation of a staff to accommodate the hits line, mute it in the Score Manager, and add it to the drum part in Document>Manage Parts. Bar lines and staff lines (and almost everything else) can be turned off in Staff> Attributes. The slash style can then be applied to the original drum staff, also allowing for specific percussion notation in those bars where it’s called for, like setting a groove for a funk chart, or a specific fill or instrument indication.

    The processing you’ve depicted in the video is also necessary on this newly created hits-only staff, and this is going to make that process much easier and faster!
    I’m going to explore using it for other aspects of setup, including setting the parameters of the hits-only staff…
    And maybe set up a macro to grab the entire lead trumpet staff and paste it in there to start the ball rolling!

    1. Philip Rothman

      Excellent, Jon – I’m so happy it was helpful. Great ideas!

    2. Martin Nickless

      Hi John this is Martin here from London
      Hope your well
      Just wanted to ask I have JW change in finale 26
      When I open it and try any task say drum cues
      My apply button is not becoming highlighted
      I’m on windows 10
      Finale 26
      Could you tell me also how do I use JW change for make my changes look better in finale

      Thanks for any help


    Hi, I am doing everything same as it is on video, but on my drum part doesn´t work Sing Pitch (to G5). Sometimes one or two notes transpose to G5 but others stay in their position. I couldn´t resolve this problem. Have you any idea? best regards Jan

    1. Jon Burr

      Jan – If you watch again, you’ll see that Philip has created a new staff using Standard notation, not a Percussion staff, in which to run the macro.
      If you single-pitch your drum part, you’ll get those results you describe, plus lose your drum part playback, if you have any.

  3. Martin Nickless

    Hi there I’m on a pc
    The problem I have with the above is the cue notes do not move to the top staff so I fixed with the regular finale single pitch plug in
    After this I saved and made a drum cue file
    But it doesn’t work
    I highlighted a region then click the new drum cue file but nothing happened
    I don’t think the video went that far
    Would like to work out what I’m doing wrong !!
    Thanks for some guidance

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