When working in large scores, it is often helpful to adjust the staves that are displayed. This can be extremely helpful when working in big band, orchestra, and concert band scores. Even with a large monitor screen, it can be extremely helpful to customize the look of the staff. I will often display a specific instrument family or section while working in a big band score.  For example, show the sax section and the rhythm section in a big band score. In a concert band score, I will sometimes look at all the bass instruments such as the bass clarinet, tuba, and baritone sax to speed the copy and paste process and review how the parts interact. Below are some examples:

The full score view of an arrangement I wrote on Stevie Wonder’s All in Love is Fair for Jazz Ensemble:

Using an adjusted staff view to view just the saxes and rhythm section:

Using an adjusted staff view to see specific staves:  bari sax, 4th trombone, piano and bass:

When working with large scores, I do the majority of my note entry using the scrolling score view. Finale choose View > Scroll View. Sibelius choose View > Panorama.

Finale Staff Sets

To accomplish this in Finale, you use Staff Sets. These must be programmed for each document. Here is how it works:

  1. You must be in View > Scroll View
  2. Choose the Staff Stool
  3. Select the staves you want to view, for example, the saxes and rhythm section. Hold down CTRL (Command on Mac) to select staves that are not next to each other.
  4. Hold down CTRL (option on Mac) and choose View > Program Staff Set (this only appears if you are holding down the CTRL (option on Mac) while selecting the menu).
  5. Once you have programmed one or more Staff Sets, you can select them from the View Menu or use the shortcuts:
    • CTRL+zero (control+zero on Mac) to show all staves
    • CTRL+1, CTRL+2  (control+1, control+2 on Mac) and so on for up to eight Staff Sets.

Finale prints all staves (and displays all staves in Page View), however, no matter which are visible in Scroll View.

Reference the Finale help documentation for more details:

Sibelius: Focus on Staves

Creating Staff Sets in Sibelius is done using the Focus on Staves feature.  It is applied in any view including the normal page view or Panorama.

  1. Select the staves you want to display by clicking an a bar to select the staff
  2. Use Shift+Click or CTRL+click (Command+click on Mac) to select staves that are not next to each other.
  3. Choose Layout > Focus on Staves.
  4. You can switch back and forth from the Focus on Staves to the entire score using the shortcut: CTRL+alt+F (Command+option+F on Mac)


Review the Sibelius Reference for more information:

  • Sibelius 6 reference section 5.8 Focus on Staves
  • Sibelius 7 reference 7.4 Focus on Staves

Focus on Staves Plug-ins

There are two custom plug-ins that can be installed in Sibelius that provides similar  features as Finale offers with Staff Sets.
The two plug-ins were programmed by Bob Zawalich and are compatible with Sibelius 5, Sibelius 6 and Sibelius 7:

  • Focus Set
  • Focus Families

To install Sibelius plug-ins

Sibelius 7:  Open any Sibelius file or create a new file

  1. Go to File >Plug-ins > Install Plug-ins
  2. Choose the category and then the specific plug-in.
  3. Read about the plug-in in the right window.
  4. Click install to install the Plug-in.

Sibelius 6 and earlier you must go to the Plug-ins section of the Sibelius website and download and manually install plug-ins

  1. Go to the Sibelius main Web site: www.sibelius.com.
  2. Click on Downloads.
  3. Under “Other Downloads” click on “extra plug-ins.” (http://www.sibelius.com/download/plugins/index.html)
  4. Click on the Focus on Staves link.
  5. Review the steps to install plug-ins at the bottom of the page.