Three Things: Names

By in John Hinchey's Three Things, Music Creation, Notation

It is always great to learn new techniques that speed up your workflow in an application you’ve been using for a while, isn’t it? In this series of blog posts, I’m going to stick to three things on a topic that I believe will help speed up your work flow.


Instrument and part names: just the way you want them

When adding an instrument to a score in Sibelius, you have a lot of choices, but often the instrument may not be labeled exactly the way you would like to see it in a score or on the part. For example, you may want to see “Trumpet 1” instead of “Trumpet in Bb”, or “Bari Sax” instead of “Baritone Saxophone.” Or perhaps you have a part that involves doubles. The part with alto sax, piccolo, and clarinet should be labeled “Reed 1.” Maybe you want to get personal with the part that has alto flute, harmonica, baritone sax, and BGV’s, which needs to be labeled “Randy.” Here are three things that will help you do just that!


One: Changing instrument names in a score

The most direct way to change an instrument name is to double click on the instrument name in the left margin of the score where it appears on page one. For one instrument this is not a big deal, but if you’ve got a lot of names to change this can take a while. Wouldn’t it be easier if there was a way to see all the instrument names in the score in a spreadsheet style? Well, there is! All you have to do is install the Edit Instrument Name Plug-in, which you can easily do by going to File Tab > Plug-ins > Install Plug-ins > Show:All Plug-ins > Text (for more tips on installing plug-ins, see my post Three Things: Plug-ins).

When you run the Edit Instrument Name Plug-in you will see all the instrument names, both full and short names, in an easy-to-navigate spreadsheet style.

Two: Changing the name of a part

If you often write parts with instrument doubling, your preference may be to label the part with the player designation. For example, in this pit score the first reed player doubles on alto saxophone, piccolo, and clarinet. In the score the instrument name will show up in the full or short instrument name as whatever the current instrument is, but we need the part to be labeled “Reed 1.”

To change a part name only in the part (not in the score) is a simple process. If you look at the list of parts, you’ll see that the Reed 1 part currently is labeled “Alto Sax, Piccolo, Clarinet.”

Open the part you would like to rename, then go to File Tab > Info. Here you can change the name of the part to “Reed 1” in the part name box.

You’ll now see that the part name is “Reed 1” on the part and in the part list.

Three: Changing instrument names in a house style

To save time on future projects you can setup a score with instrument names just how you want them and then export that score as a manuscript paper. To export a score as manuscript paper, go to File Tab > Export > Manuscript Paper and follow the prompts. Another way is to create new instruments that have the names the way you like and then add them to any score. Here’s how you do that using “Edit Instrument.”


Open any new or existing score. Let’s assume you want to create Alto Sax 1&2, Tenor Sax 1&2, Bari Sax, Trumpets 1-4 and Trombones 1-4. Go to Home Tab > Instruments and click on the edit box in the lower left corner.

Navigate to All instruments > Woodwind > Alto Saxophone and click on “New Instrument.” The prompt will ask if you are sure you want to do this—click “Yes.”

In the name section, change the name to exactly what you would like to see it appear as in your score. Click “OK” when finished.

You will now see in the Woodwind family that you have an “Alto Sax 1” instrument. Click on that instrument and click on “New Instrument” again and repeat the process above naming the instrument “Alto Sax 2.” You can do the same with the other instruments by starting with the default instrument definition of each of those instruments: Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Trumpet in Bb, and Trombone.

Save the score and then go to Appearance Tab > House Style and click on “Export.” Name the new house style something to help you identify it—for this example I’ve called it “Big Band Instrument Names.” When you have a new score that you want to add these instruments to, you can now import these instrument definitions. In the new score, just go to Appearance Tab > House Styles and click on “Import.” Find the house style you’ve created, and under Import Options, click on “Instrument Definitions.”

Now when you go to Home Tab > Instruments > Add Instruments you will see you have instruments all set up for Alto sax 1, Alto sax 2, and the rest. You can select the entire horn section by using command click to select all the instruments you need and add them all to a score at once.

There is no reason not to have your instruments labeled just the way you like it, and now you know how!

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I am a producer, arranger, composer and trombonist based in Nashville Tennessee, with over 30 years of experience in the entertainment industry. For more information, please visit my website,, and for more Sibelius tips, visit “Notes On Notes” blog at