Entering lots of notes -- studio setup, ergonomics?

Hi all,

Can anyone share a successful approach to entering lots of paper music into Dorico?

I am interested in everything, from where you place the piano keyboard, monitor, mouse, computer keyboard, special macros, the use of the Stream Deck, etc.

I would be interested in pictures of your studio too.

I am thinking especially about out-of-copyright excercises and scores.


Maybe I just need some time to get comfy in the software…

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Here’s thread with some pictures:


Hi @wws here just a couple of general note entry tips that can speed the workflow (in case someone is not jet aware of them):

  • use double click on the note value numbers to enter dotted notes

  • if you want to transform two equal notes in a dotted rhythm you can just select the first and press the dot on your keabord

  • if you have a series of many dotted notes you can enter them as non dotted, and then select them and pressing the dot will make them dotted

  • if you have repeating rhythms with different notes, you can duplicate the passage and use Lock Duration (L) to reenter the pitches and maintaining the rhythm

  • you can input notes with the caret on multiple staves simultaneously (in homorythmic passages)

  • sometimes I input all notes (in a passage) using only one value (all quarter for example) and then use Insert mode to adjust the rhythms afterwards…

  • you can record macros directly from the script menu (for example for customised tuplets input), that you can then assign to Key commands or to Voice commands (see below)

  • you can assign Key commands to midi CC (if you have some unused assignable pads or switches on your Midi Controller)

  • use the Jump bar, for which you can create aliases, that are easy to remember and expand the shortcut possibilities tremendously

  • remember that in Key commands you can program complex shortcuts with more than one letter (for example command(control)+F+B to “filter bottom or single note” of a chord)

  • if you are on Mac you can use Voice Command to be able to send commands to dorico with your voice (for example note values)

  • if you use Stream Deck I suggest you purchase the Notation Express Stream Deck Profile for Dorico - Notation Central

There are probably many other…(I will eventually add them here above when they come to mind)

And I suggest this great Videos by @John_at_Steinberg :


Interesting stuff, but here’s maybe how I should have phrased it:

If you had a stack of 1,000 pages of music, and were getting paid $20 / page to enter them in Dorico, how would you set up your work area and proceed?

Like, where would your keyboard be, your mouse, your midi controller, what monitor set up, etc.?

Maybe this is just a weird question, sorry if it doesn’t really make any sense…

I am thinking just production work, not really creative.

Thanks for sharing your tricks but for this one,did have you made a setting so that the cursor advances to the next note once the note value has been changed?
or you allways also must use the right arrow key? which slows down and also causes mental distraction?

Like this:

If the 1000 pages were PDFs I’d view them in the portrait monitor while I input into the landscape monitor. If paper, if feasible I’d have them on my desk in front of me on my desktop K&M stand, or if too large for that I’d just have them on a regular music stand next to me.


For just a moment, I thought you had a :joystick: there…


If the source were a PDF, I’d probably try scanning a few pages just to see if that looked like it would help rather than hinder.

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Well that’s an amazing and beautiful studio set up…

… What exactly would you do to get a measure or line of notes in?

I would you look at the music and play the notes on the midi controller in step mode in my RH (mostly), riding the stream deck with my LH, but I would be interested in other people’s experience.

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Thanks! I use the StreamDeck for macros mostly. A few things are single commands, but many on the SD are a sequence. I input with one hand on the MIDI keyboard, one hand on the numpad, step time input, almost always pitch-before-duration. If it’s a sequence or a pattern using all eighths or something, I’ll switch and use duration-first (K toggles this), but usually pitch-first.

Without doubt I would use an OMR program to read paper music into xml format and import that into Dorico. None of these programs are perfect, but (IMO) they all beat manual note-entry in Dorico by a country mile.

Personally I use PhotoScore. It has its quirks, limitations and flaws, but I’ve become accustomed to them and know how to fix its errors either in the original or leave it to Dorico.

I rarely use a midi keyboard for transcriptions because my work is usually rhythmically complex. Dorico qwerty input is like touch typing and key combinations very obvious (at least for an Anglophone like me). But I would recommend a Desktop setup not a Laptop, as I think a separate numpad is essential.

Workflow-wise. I do all notes/chords first, then lyrics (if any), followed by articulations and dynamics. Finally I attend to layout.

Just my ha’penny-worth.


@wws ,
You didn’t mention whether the 1000 pages were hand written or printed music. Clearly hand written music would not be successful if scanned into a OMR program.

Handwritten, not scannable.

(Something of a hypothetical question, but I am just trying to discover a good workflow, and OCR won’t be a thing.)

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I have a laptop with numeric keypad and a small piano keyboard for the laptop. When I copy scores, I have the score right from the screen on a table stand. My right hand on the numeric keypad and my left hand on the piano keyboard. I look at the score and set the note duration with my right hand and the pitch with my left hand. To do it fast the trick is not to look at the screen but stay focused on the score and check the result after a phrase or a logical point. I can not do it for hours.

An paper score I scan in my iPad and set it in a score reader (Newzik). I think it is more easy to keep track on just a small part and if it is to small you can adjust it.

This are my 2 cents


The important thing is to make sure that you’re not straining or stretching, e.g. not keeping your head turned to the side to look at the source material; not holding your arm out to play the keyboard.

Take regular breaks, even if just to walk around for a minute, putting your neck, arms and hands in a different position.

There are also “calculators” which tell you the measurements for your desk, based on your height.


It depends on the nature of the music, but I keep a copy of Finale on my PC for inputting a lot of music, just for its Hyperscribe feature.

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I dont use two monitors (this would be like living next to a motorway…)
Instead I have the source at the bottom of my screen and Dorico in the upper half of the screen. This means I only have to move my eyes, not my head.
I would read the source in the lower window staff by staff and input or correct in the upper window in Galley view. Works quite well and one does not miss anything by mistake…

The wws’s music is written on paper. It will not appear on a screen until wws inputs it.

Yes, I would start with scanning the source first.
There are lovely document scanners that will do around 50 separate pages in one go.

I will share what works for me.

I work in several stages and the setup will be slightly different between these.

  • stage 1 is to pencil in page and bar numbers in the paper copies. I do this at my writing desk, not at the computer. This will save a lot of time later when proof reading
  • stage 2 is to use only the computer keyboard (with the numeric part). I start by adding a few hundred bars. I place the paper in a manuscript holder straight ahead of me. I turn on the sound so I can hear the notes as entered. Touch typing on the keyboard, not looking at the computer screen I enter some of the music context. (no peeping on the screen) Generally only. note duration + note, key changes and time signature changes. Sometimes other things as well, but this is meant to be a very quick run through of the full piece. Not looking at the screen at all, touch typing gets better with training.
  • stage 3 is the first fix phase, only fixing what I entered above. Here I need to have the paper copy next to the screen so i move around the manuscript holder to be on the side of the screen. Look for oldtime manuscript holders that typist used to have next to the type writer. Here it really helps with the bar numbers. Mouse is rarely needed as just about anything can be done by touch-typing on the computer keyboard.
  • stage 4 is adding all the stuff I skipped in phase 2. Again avoiding the mouse and using the computer keyboard (with some favourite short-cuts),
  • stage 5 i print the part and go over to my writing desk and proof read, marking errors in red ink.
  • stage 6, the final edit.

As seen, I generally never use my piano keyboard, but a really good computer keyboard helps (not a laptop keyboard).