In my last post, I discussed hiding empty staves to reduce the page count of a score. In this post, I will cover how to hide staves for playback in Finale and Sibelius.

Some examples of  when I use a hidden staff for playback:

  1. When composing or arranging for drum set.
  2. Rhythm section parts such as piano, bass and guitar when slash notation is used in the part and I want a realistic playback.
  3. When creating a worksheet for students where they hear a playback staff, but don’t see it. This can be a good way to create ear training and practice exercises.

There are two steps that must be taken:

  1. Turn off the playback of the staff you are using for printing only
  2. Hide the staff that you want to play back, but not be visible in the score.

Hiding Staves in Sibelius

The term in Sibelius is “Focus on Staves.”  It is used when composing or arranging a score and you wan to show just selected staves, for example, just the rhythm section or brass. It can also be used to hide staves that you want to be heard but not display in the score.

Add all of the staves to the score. For example, if you have a drum set staff with mostly slash notation, you can create a second staff for playback. Be sure to label the staves clearly as to which part is which.

To mute the view-only staff:

  1. Turn on the Mixer View by pressing the letter M or choosing Mixer from the Window Menu.
  2. Drag the top of the mixer window up so you see the M (mute) button above the volume sliders.
  3. Click the M (mute) button on the appropriate staff.


To turn on Focus on Staves:

  1. Select all staves except the one(s) you don’t want to appear when you print the score.
  2. For non-contiguous staves, Hold down the CTRL key (Command Key on Mac) and click on the staves.
  3. After the viewing staves are selected, choose Layout > Hiding Staves >  Focus on Staves.


Simply uncheck “Focus on Staves”  to see all of the staves in the score.

Hiding Staves in Finale

Create all of the staves that you want in the score and include the staves for playback only.

 Turn off the playback of the view-only staves.

  1. Select View > Studio View
  2. Click the M (Mute) button to the left of the staff you want to mute.

To Hide the staves that you are using only for playback:

  1. Choose the Staff Tool (looks like a Treble Clef).
  2. Click in the margin to the left of the staff you want to hide. This will select just this staff for the entire score.
  3. Right-click the mouse and from the contextual menu, choose
    13. Force Hide Staff (Collapse). 

When you want to see the hidden staves, go to View > Scroll View or View > Studio View. To see the score with the  staves hidden, go to View > Page View.