A week or so ago I found myself working in Finale 2010, writing out a new set of warmups for my beginning band students.  In the middle of it all I realized that I was asking some of the instruments to play some notes that I knew not everyone would be comfortable with in terms of fingerings.  I knew that in Sibelius there was aplug-in that let me automatically add brass fingerings just by highlighting and clicking the tool, but so far as I knew it was only limited to the three valve brass instruments.  I went looking for a way to easily add instrument fingerings to Finale and came across a site calledMusicTeacherTools .com.  Rafael Hernandez, the chair of the Department of Music at California State University East Bay has posted there several wonderful sets ofTrueType instrument fingering fonts that are perfect for adding fingerings on almost every common band instrument to not only music notation programs but also to any normal word processing document that you might need to use them in.

The MusicEd Fingerings Collection
Rafael has put together individual font sets for the fingerings on the flute, clarinet, bassoon, oboe, and sax, as well as other useful music graphics like Kodaly hand signs. Other font files contain dozens of other graphics like rhythms and even piano keyboard diagrams.  When these font files are installed properly by dragging and dropping theTrueType file into the Fonts folder in Windows they become available to all of the programs on the computer.  Installing the on a Mac is also very easy.  Once they are available to the system and are selected in your word processing program you can use a guide (included with the font package) to tell you what letters to push in order to get the appropriate fingering combination to appear on the screen.  Once you figure out the layout doing so is pretty intuitive.  A lowercase letter adds the fingering in the open position while the same letter in capitals prints a blackened fingering to show that that key should be pressed down.  

The fingering sets are VERY complete.  Flute fingering fonts include the ability to display half hole fingerings or even to function as recorder fingerings.  The oboe fingering fonts are quite impressive with the ability to show even quarter and three quarter hole fingerings as well as ring fingerings also.  The bassoon fingering fonts provide keys on both sides of the instrument, and as with all of the fonts they can be blown up to whatever size the user sees fit.

Adding Instrument Fingerings To Finale 2010
While using the fonts in Word or Open Office is fairly easy, getting them to work the way you want in Sibelius and Finale is a little more complicated but not horribly so.  In Finale for example the user uses the expression tool to select a note that the fingering is to be displayed on.  With the tool window open the user creates a new expression using theMusicEd Fingering font that corresponds to the instrument being notated.  The fingering then appears above the note and can be moved around simply by clicking and dragging.  Clarinet, sax, oboe, and bassoon fingerings are a little more complicated as most teacher will want the fingering diagram to stand up straight instead of laying down horizontal above the note.  There is a work around for this in Finale, and it is shown in a video on theMusicTeacherTools site.

It does bear to be mentioned that each of the fonts in the MusicEd Fingerings Collection are sold individually or as a complete package.  Interested customers can also invest in the rhythm fonts and Kodaly hand sign fonts as well as many others that are also available.  The full package containing all of the fingering fonts sells via the MusicTeacherTools site for $40 or the complete set of all fonts including the rhythms, hand signs, and piano keyboard diagrams are all available for $60.  There are other instrument fingering font alternatives to the MusicEd collections, but none seem to be as full featured or well rendered as these do.  If you need to add clean, concise instrument fingering charts to music or to other documents take a closer look at these excellent offerings.

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