Sibelius is My Workhorse

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This is one in a series of Sibelius articles to help you learn how the Sibelius music notation family provides composers of all levels with the session management tools needed to handle large projects and collaborate with other artists, engineers, and facilities.

I’ve been a lifelong musician and by that, I mean that at age 3, I was standing on top of my parent’s coffee-table wearing a bathrobe as a cape while strumming a Bjorn Borg tennis racket as a guitar. I should probably include the fact that my face was COVERED (terribly) in my Mom’s make-up! In my mind, I was fronting the rock band KISS at age 3!

I started playing viola in elementary school at age 9 and then I picked up the electric bass when I was in junior high school. After 4 years of top notch orchestra training and college preparatory coursework at Burlington High School, Burlington, Vermont, I went on to attend Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, where I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Performance.

Whether I am directing, arranging, or performing, Sibelius is the default musical foundation of these pursuits.

My introduction to Sibelius music notation software came after just a few months of massive frustration adjusting to using Finale. I needed a faster, more dynamic notation program to meet the deadlines of an artist. I traded in my Finale CD for Sibelius 4 and the rest is history!

I am fortunate to collaborate with fellow professionals in the music industry in a variety of capacities.

As a Music Director

My Music Director work consists of identifying the needs of a given client from start to finish. Labels and managers hire me to groom and prepare a band for either extended tours or for a live National TV performance.

I’ve performed with Rihanna at a sold out Staples Center, which was broadcast live on TNT Network. I’ve also “acted” as a string quartet musician in an elegant ballroom scene on the hit ABC TV show, Scandal.

 

Playing in the string section with Rihanna, Kanye West, and Drake at an NBA All-Star game.

Playing in the string section with Rihanna, Kanye West, and Drake at an NBA All-Star game.

 

As professional musicians, we must be adaptable to answer and successfully perform any paying job that comes our way. Once I sign a contract agreement, the artist will send me all of his or her music so I can transcribe all of their songs using Sibelius to create full band charts or “lead sheets.” From there, I will organize an audition process that caters to the best business interests of the client. I then will direct the new band (or existing band) through a very strategic and focused rehearsal process. This will ensure that a given set of songs are performed live with as much passion, precision and technique as imaginable.

Using the Sibelius band charts as a “visual bible” of sorts allows me to keep the band dialed in and focused. Everyone at rehearsal has the charts in front of them. We can collectively stop at measure 33, start, jump to a chorus, hyper focus on the bridge section, or come up with something entirely new for an outro ending. Sibelius gives me the tools to help my musicians digest and memorize a lot of new music and structures as quickly as possible.

As an Arranger

As a professional Arranger, I LOVE using Sibelius to compose strings, horns, and band orchestrations for a wide array of solo artists, rock bands, and film/TV clients such as Alien Ant Farm, Rancid, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Moby, Andy Grammer, etc.

JayTerrien_GrammerandMoby_WEB_2.25.14
I played on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno a few times. Once with Moby (left image) and another time with Andy Grammer (right image).

Since I am a string performer, I approach arranging from a VERY unique instrumentalist-centric perspective. I ask myself, “What are the amazing, tasteful lines that my players will get EXCITED about while playing? How can I create beauty using a cello and a delay pedal?” I avoid traditional keyboard-based “string padding” voicings and concepts as much as possible. My strings and horns players are not robotic keyboards; they are not here to “thicken” a given sonic, like when you add flour to soup. A song arranged in Sibelius serves as the foundation for the entire band in the studio or on the stage.

You can’t survive by doing “one thing”. You must do it all and do it all VERY WELL.

As a Performer

My performance duties consist of playing both viola and electric bass in as many contexts and diverse musical environments as possible. The concept of “I am only an orchestral violist” or “I just play death metal bass” no longer applies in our current modern music business landscape. You can’t survive by doing “one thing”. You must do it all and do it all VERY WELL. The freelance music business demands massive flexibility and a wide-range of playing experiences.

 

Strings with Stevie Wonder and Esperanza Spalding.

Strings with Stevie Wonder and Esperanza Spalding.

Having a super pliable musical brain, a happy go lucky personality, and an insane attention to detail has thankfully allowed me to perform with a diverse range of legends such as Stevie Wonder, Esperanza Spalding, Rihanna, as well as members of both King Crimson and Weezer.

Without a doubt, Sibelius allows me to capture and transmit the details of each of these occupations. Whether I am directing, arranging, or performing, Sibelius is the default musical foundation of these pursuits. More often than not, I have very little turnaround time to take a project from start to finish. The incredibly intuitive user interface and easy to use design of Sibelius helps me meet my crazy business deadlines with ease.

You can watch some of my live performances on my video page and feel free to check out my music endeavors on my website or social media pages below.

Questions? Shoot me an email: jay@jayterrien.com