Learning Dorico

Just a comment here, to say how hard it is to switch from sibelius.
I am not frustrated, I just find it really hard to learn Dorico.
I thought the software would be intuitive, which I don’t find it is.

To Learn Sibelius (I was coming from Finale) I checked a tutorial called “Learn sibelius in one hour”
it was 12 x 5 minutes lessons. It was enough to get me going and do great scores with it.

I wish there was something like that in Dorico. I checked many tutorials, I even bought a book on Dorico. I can get a score done, but everything seems complicated (to move a note up or down you need to hit alt - Arrow up. Impossible to find on your own, you need to get taught this (an example of a counter-intuitive thing)

And I still haven’t found a way to change a note duration !!! (1/8 note in 12/8, I want to change it to a dotted 1/4 note). I can’t believe I’m going to lose an hour to figure it out. I should find this in 30 seconds, without reading a manual or doing a YT tutorial (counter intuitive again)


You just select the note, and press the duration you want. 6.

Of course, a dotted quarter is longer than an eighth, so it’s either going to overwrite two eighth’s worth of notes, or you need to use Insert mode to shift everything up.

Something like the First Steps guide?

Honestly, Dorico has some of the best learning materials I’ve ever come across. There’s loads of amazing, concise videos; the Tips Tuesday animations; plus the in-depth explorations, and the excellent documentation.

Plus you can always questions here!

And it is consistent (Intuitive = Consistent + Familiar). Once you’ve learnt a few things, you should find everything else is similar.

Is that complicated? Or just different? :stuck_out_tongue:

1 Like

This and any software is always ‘unintuitive’ until you know how it works. I, like you, came from Sibelius and for about a month was swearing at Dorico because it didn’t work like Sibelius. Once you get used to the way that Dorico does things, you’ll find it consistent, well thought out and a lot quicker to get great results.

Engraving music is a terrifically difficult thing to achieve and any program that does it is going to be complex to learn. I urge you to put the time in though because in my opinion (fwiw) Dorico is miles ahead of Sibelius in most areas…

There is a First Steps tutorial here that will get you going and this forum is amongst the best on the internet…

Happy Dorico-ing



Oh. Sniped by @benwiggy

Ok, I was doing that before posting, it didn’t work, now I try again and it works… Don’t know what I did

Oh well. Thanks.

I mean I really want to learn it, I’ll eventually get there. For sure I want to get off Avid’s subscription plan.

Perhaps you were in Engrave mode? Write mode is for adding/altering notation; Engrave mode is for moving it around!

1 Like

No, no. I’m in write mode.

I was selecting only the top note, and when I changed it to dotted 1/4, the top note only was changing to a 1/8 note tied to a 1/4 note. (sibelius they all change)

So it’s just a different behavior in Dorico, that I need to get used to…

Please do always feel free to post here if you have questions or find yourself stuck. As you can see, you’ll almost always receive helpful answers quite quickly.

Here are the main options for repitching notes, but there are other transposing tools available to you as well (especially for working on a larger section of music)

You should find that searching the manual for “move note up” brings up relevant topics at the top of the results.

Here are the steps for changing note durations, and here’s an explanation of ways to select different durations.

That’s right, operations in Dorico in general work on a “what’s currently selected basis”: if it’s not selected, it won’t be included in the operation.

A quick way to select all notes in a chord is to click its stem. Ditto for all notes in a beamed group: click the beam. For all notes in a bar, click somewhere on the staff that isn’t a note, stem, or rest.

1 Like

Amazing help ! Indeed

Thanks for the tricks.

So this is why chords don’t copy/ paste ?

When I select 8 bats it only selects notes, so chords don’t follow. I couldn’t find help in the first steps tutorial on this. (how to copy/paste everything : notes + chords + … )

The First Steps guide is a standalone tutorial, intended to be followed through in order. It won’t necessarily have all the detail included in the Operation Manual.

Chord symbols are treated similarly to system-attached items, like rehearsal marks and tempo marks. When you select music on staves, Dorico doesn’t generally include system-attached items. You can include chord symbols by e.g. explicitly including them in the selection by Ctrl/Cmd-clicking them after selecting the music, or use the system track to make a complete selection of everything in the system.

If you want to copy chord symbols because you want them to appear in the same bars but above other staves, see here:

1 Like

I too was very frustrating when I first started using Dorico (after 20+ years with Sibelius). I couldn’t even figure out how to add more bars when entering notes… I thought I could “intuitively” figure out how Dorico worked, based on my “lengthy experience” with Sibelius. I soon became convinced that I had to treat this as a totally new program, not like anything else I had encountered, and put in the time to simply learn it from the beginning tutorials. Lots of tutorial videos (multiple times) helped immensely. After awhile, I couldn’t understand why I thought the program was so difficult – it was remarkably consistent and logical.

Oh, and don’t begin with some big orchestral piece. Start with a small choral or piano piece, learn about the [multitude of] program options and how they interact continually with the score. Notes that change appearance after you entered them? Keep adding notes – they may change back to the setting options. Or change the Notation Options/Note Grouping to see how note appearances change dynamically (I admit, this blew my mind–and my patience–for awhile!)

Invest the time to learn this extremely complex but flexible program; you won’t regret it. The only time I open Sibelius now is to export old projects into Dorico, because I can get much better results in MUCH less time than trying to remember how to use Sibelius. It won’t happen overnight… but it’s well-worth the efforts expended.


I am not an experienced user like the others who responded. In fact, I am also in the process of learning Dorico. But what they said is quite true. Dorico is an exceptional program and well worth the effort to learn. The designers have analyzed music engraving much more deeply than previous GUI programs, which means that it is complex, because music engraving is complex.

1 Like

Absolutely awesome course in Dorico.:
Dorico explained. One of the best video teachers I’ve had in any subject. They are having a buy one get one free sale so you can also get a Dorico five updates explained in the two of those courses will make you a guru. I was taking a Berklee orchestration class And I had to learn how to use the notation program real quick and spending one night with this course got me there.


Lapieuvre, l was in your shoes when l started. You have to suffer the initial frustrations to get anywhere. I came from Sibelius and now l have transcribed over 80 old clarinet parts from paper to digital files. My band friends all envy my wonderful clean prints.

1 Like

Dorico is worth the effort to learn. Once I did, (1) it became intuitive to use the program, and (2) I found I could work much faster than I ever could in any other notation program.

One tip: Dorico is very, very customizable — and once you’re comfortable with the program, you should do so to your liking. Set up templates, title pages in Engrave, custom expression maps in Play for your sample libraries , custom page layouts, etc etc etc etc.

In addition, consider setting up demo flows in your templates that help illustrate specific things. For example, for my strings template, I’ve included a flow that systematically steps through all the articulations/expressions for the Berlin Strings library I use. When I make changes/refine the expression maps and playing/playback techniques, I resave the template with an updated flow. That way, when I start a new piece, I can quickly check that all the articulations are working.

Such customization ideas (you’ll surely come up with more and better ones) make Dorico a joy to work with.

I sympathise with the OP - there is quite a learning curve and I’m still very much on it too.

But I realised the other day when I had created a 20-page score that the only engraving adjustments I had to make were to some pieces of manually-added staff text, a couple of staff-spacing and a number of slurs. I didn’t need to adjust a single note, beam or bar line.


I go with the thread opener . :slight_smile: For me the main problem still is, that Dorioc uses many ways that are not the ways several other programs established as kind of a standard (Print, save as, enharmonic change, drag and drop etc.)…

The discussion about intuitively of the Programm comes up again and again and the main thing, as here, that appears is, that intuivitivity is just what you are used to. But that’s wrong. It means more than just that.

It’s much more to find a solution because of the inner logic of the material itself without the need of taking the manual very single time. This is hardly possible with Dorico.

If you are an absolute power user it’s ok because once your on the Drorico way you can stay there. But me, I am using it from time to time between composing, playing instruments , rehearsing etc and so the once learned special things disappear, also they are done in a Dorico way :slight_smile: I started to write down these operations to find them easier , but I would love from D´s side to make it simpler.

Its a great program. No doubt. Powerfull and able to do things that other notation programs are not able to do.
But I don’t find it flexible at all. You have to it the exact Dorico way (4modes with not always logical allocation.), otherwise you get into the dead end. F.e. the handling of short cuts I would prefer to be really flexible. So that you adjust direct SCs to functions without detours through menus etc.

But that’s another discussion.
If one accepts these limitations, one can get extremely far with Dorico.

And the forum indeed is one of the absolut best you can find.

Thanx to all here

I haven’t used other notation software prior to Dorico except for Cubase’s own module, so I can’t compare but if this has become a widely held opinion then it’s very depressing indeed. It makes it sound so unwelcoming, and suggests that someone would only take the plunge when issue(s) become unavoidable like dental pain (or Avid subscription).

This may or may not get obscured by the fights over the true meaning of “intuitive/not intuitive” on this forum but if a lot of people perceive learning Dorico to be a dreaded and painful process, then they would of course avoid and postpone it until “Dorico is mature, etc” and that’s not good in my view because it probably affects the adoption rates.

But I do recall many users here highlighting multiple examples where Dorico is in fact superior to competition because it’s more logical or easier or more advanced or whatever else. Perhaps there could be some attention given to highlighting Dorico specifically from this angle on its YT channel? This would go some way to more clearly communicating and in fact promoting its clear worthiness from the competitive standpoint. Or perhaps it’s possible to make onboarding videos scripted for users coming from competitors (say Sibelius to Dorico) and clearly explain where and why Dorico is different and especially why it matters. Understanding the why is going to make climbing any hurdle more meaningful and automatically more worthwhile, not to mention the motivation potential here.

I guess what I’m trying to say is it would be nice if there was a shift in perception from “It’s great but only after you suffer first” to something that presents Dorico’s design in a more positive and desirable light.


The word ‘suffer’ is being played out of context - lets just say ‘perseverance’…