What Music Preparation Is & Why You Need It

08-06-22 11:34 AM By Kevin Lynch
You have your musical script ready, held several table readings, and are making strong connections in the musical theatre world, but one thing missing with your musical; high-quality & ready to perform sheet music.

 New writers often leave the daunting task of transcribing and formatting their piano vocal score and sheet music of their musical till the very last moment or when pressured to throw one together for a workshop or staged reading. The piano vocal score is paramount and ought to be treated like the script of your musical without a properly formatted one, you risk losing valuable time, money, and precious resources. 

A music preparation service can be an invaluable addition to a creative team. Music preparation includes services like, but isn't limited to:               
  • Generating and formatting consistent scores & page layouts
  • The ability to track changes, revisions, and versions of a score as the show develops
  • Incorporating stage direction and dialogue for music directors to lead the show
  • Transcribing music from audio demos to notation software like Finale and Sibelius
  • Creating instrument parts for orchestrations

 Here are 5 reasons why hiring a music preparation service and committing your music to paper in the early stages of development are crucial. 

1. Copyright
 Once you have an orchestral score or piano-vocal score, you can submit the PDF or printed sheet music to the U.S. Copyright Office to obtain a formal registration of your sheet music. Having a completed score allows you to fix your music in a tangible form of expression, in addition to audio recordings and demos. This is pivotal if you go to court for an infringement of your copyrights and need to defend your rights and work. 

2. Saves Valuable Rehearsal Time
Using a poorly created score can lead to frustration during music rehearsals, ambiguity for the performers and musicians, and raise redundant and easy-to-avoid music questions. Improperly prepared music causes interruptions in a music rehearsal, wasting valuable rehearsal time, costs you money, and causes the quality of a performance to suffer if detail is missing in the score and parts.

3. Gives The Show A Music Foundation
Having well-prepared sheet music can lay a solid foundation for your musical and cuts out the guesswork for your performers. You can rest assured knowing that the score is well prepared and easy to amend if you make changes, cut, alter, add a new song, and change keys. All of which occur in live theatre and throughout the development process of a show.

4. Easier To Develop
 A musical is in a constant state of change. If measures have to be added for a scene change, entering the sheet music in notation software like Finale or Sibelius with industry-standard page layouts and formatting can make changes easier without altering the look and feel of your score. 

5. Distribute The Score With Confidence
When you submit your script to be read by industry professionals, regional and university theatres, and producers, they expect a quality, formatted script that is easy to read. Not only does it help the reader picture and visualize your work, but it sets your show apart from non-professional scripts. The same treatment is required for sheet music. Poor formatting, notes crashing into lyrics, improper lyric hyphenation, wrong chord symbols, and a sloppy-looking score comes across as amateur and will help or hurt the future development of your show.

 Sheet music you can rely on generated by music preparation professionals is paramount for the success of your show. It provides freedom to express the content without worrying about all the details while you focus on the bigger picture. Your music director, cast, and production team will thank you for it!