Large print music

Noteman says: For more information on the Modified Stave Notation standard, including the availability of samples and transcription services, visit the RNIB website and the UK Association for Accessible Format's Guidance documents (G009: Modified Stave Notation).

Persons with a Closedprint disability"A print-disabled person is anyone for whom a visual, cognitive, or physical disability hinders the ability to read print. This includes all visual impairments, dyslexia, and any physical disabilities that prevent the handling of a physical copy of a print publication." UK Association for Accessible Formats. "G009: Modified Stave Notation", p. 5, sourced from Copyright Licensing Agency Print Disability Licensing Scheme, Guidelines for Licensees 2010. have specific needs for readable sheet music. A set of guidelines for enlarged engraving called ClosedModified Stave Notation"A term given to describe music in large print. MSN enlarges the music generally and makes a score more consistent, but it also alters the proportions involved. The spacing of notes is adjusted and other features such as articulations and expression marks may be disproportionately large." UK Association for Accessible Formats. "G003: Creating Clear Print and Large Print Documents", p. 59ff., developed and promoted by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), serves as a standard by which existing sheet music can be adjusted to fit the needs for the visually-impaired. While Modified Stave Notation provides a general set of rules, it is not itself a specific format, as it does not suggest particular values for enlargement or layout.

Fortunately, music notation software offers the ability to make these changes quickly and to try out various settings. Finale includes a template with a basic set of adjustments according to the Modified Stave Notation standard. However, each situation and each person will have individual requirements. While this template is a good place to start, we strongly recommend consulting with the musician for whom the sheet music is intended.

It is important to note that Modified Stave Notation involves more than simply enlarging the notes by a certain percentage. While this is an important component, the essential rules of good engraving should inform the end result, and so also alterations to the proportions of various score elements needs to be taken into account. Remember that all large-print documents using Modified Stave Notation must be "made to order": it's unlikely that one set of alterations will suffice in every circumstance.

According to the UKAAF, Modified Stave Notation "is often used to memorise the music prior to its final use in performance, analysis or whatever … it is more customary for musicians with severe visual problems to read, memorise, and play/sing from memory rather than to read and play at the same time." With Finale, you can also convert your sheet music into an on-screen notation file (with or without accompaniment) for practice purposes in SmartMusic. After you're satisfied with your alterations, you can export the Finale document as a SmartMusic file.

Below are two examples, a piano score and an SATB choral score. The Apply MSN script was run on both and small additional edits were made to existing score elements.

Original document Modified Stave Notation applied

In these examples, there are only slight differences between the converted documents, demonstrating the need to tailor each document to the situation. Compared to the piano score, the SATB score includes the following settings: