Since there’s been quite a few threads about solos & ensembles on here recently I thought I’d post this just in case anyone might find any of this helpful.
First, something I posted here last year that some may find useful is that for several years before I retired I created accompaniment MP3 recordings for my former students to practice with that I’d upload onto computers in the band hall as well as they could upload onto their phones for practicing purposes. There are about 120 solo accompaniments and a few ensemble recordings I left on my Google Drive that anyone is free to access. Most are probably still on the PML, but I’d check to make sure before using any of them. I also still have a folder of the original Sibelius files I created from the piano accompaniments as well as a folder of Music XML files that can be opened up by most notation programs that can probably be uploaded into Smart Music for use. They’re all editable. The selections are for many different instruments and most of them are class 2 & 3 solos. The link to those files is: https://goo.gl/RyjYbp
There are 3 compressed ZIP files in there that have the word All in the file names. Those are for anyone who wants to download each folder in their entirety all at once.
Second, something that I didn’t post before that some may also find helpful is how to do this to create your own music XML files to use in SmartMusic or to create recordings of the solo accompaniments yourself from your piano accompaniments. I use the full version of the program PhotoScore Ultimate that’s available from Neuratron. Sibelius comes with a lite version of it, but that one is simply too limited to be really useful. The full version allows you to do so much more and you can use it with Finale, Sibelius, SmartMusic and probably most other notation software programs.
Here's how to do this: I’d scan my original piano accompaniments and create a single multi-paged PDF file of each song. PhotoScore has a button that allows you to open PDF files where it will do music OCR (Optical Character Recognition) on all of the music pages. There are normally a few errors and PhotoScore marks the errors it perceives with red lines to make them easy to spot. The screen is split with the top half showing the original page and the bottom half showing what PhotoScore has interpreted from that scan. You can compare the two on the fly and make needed changes immediately as the PhotoScore bottom half of the window is completely editable.
The number of errors that show up depends largely on 2 things: The quality of the original score and the quality of the scan itself. For best results, don’t scan it in black & white or in color…scan it in greyscale and at somewhere around 300 to 400 dpi. Some sheet music won’t scan well at all and are worthless in the end, but some do scan in flawlessly with few to no errors to clean up. Most scans will have a few errors to fix as it seems inevitable at times.
You ABSOLUTELY should first edit the file in PhotoScore as much as possible because it allows you to edit freely without your notation program automatically trying to make corrections like most notation programs do. If you try to do the same editing in Sibelius or Finale, multiple problems normally abound. (i.e. – deleting a note in a notation program usually causes the program to replace it with a rest…changing the rhythmic value of a note causes the program to change the value of other notes/rests in the same measure…etc.). The notation programs are so automated that it’s a chore at times trying to make simple changes whereas PhotoScore doesn’t do that. It will allow you to make changes without automatically trying to make corrections. It simply puts red lines in those places and it waits for you to make corrections at which point the red lines disappear when the errors are fixed. When you’re finished with the editing in PhotoScore, you can either save it as a music XML file to open in most notation programs including Finale or Sibelius OR to be uploaded into SmartMusic, or you can save it as a PhotoScore file that Sibelius can natively open or you can export it directly to Sibelius. Recordings can be made of the accompaniments directly from Sibelius or Finale and likely from other notation programs once you open the converted file in a notation program.
You can also open scans of full band scores into the full version of PhotoScore which the lite version won’t do. This allows you to easily make changes in individual parts as desired. But I find that it doesn’t do well with percussion parts as I frequently had to go into the score and notate the percussion parts manually. But each version/update of PhotoScore has gotten better and better over the years. At $249 this may seem kind of steep, but I used it for years and it was more than worth it to me to be able to do all of this. I still use it quite a bit. It will also allow you to open scanned PDF files of music that the Library of Congress and many universities have available to download from their music libraries that are in the public domain. They can become fully editable. It will allow you to open and edit many PDF music files as long as they do not have any restrictions embedded in them.
As a side note, individual instrumental parts can also be scanned and become fully editable in the event that you want to re-write a part. An acquaintance of mine plays euphonium in a large community band. He was a trumpet player in his younger years (but was not a band director). He can’t read and/or transpose bass clef. This year he’s gotten around 6 works in the band that had no euphonium TC parts, so he e-mailed the euphonium BC parts to me and with a few clicks I was able to change the clef, transpose the part and e-mail it back to him to print out for his and another’s use in the band.
Hope this may help.