Software Review: Forte 6 Premium Music Notation Software

Forte Premium 6 music notation software is the answer for musicians seeking an affordable and powerful notation product.

FORTE 6 3 Options

Note: I received a copy of Forte Premium 6 for free and I have been hired to write a review.  That said, I am presenting my honest appraisal of the product, having used another leading music notation software for 20 years to create orchestra scores, choral scores, and rhythm charts.

The first thing that caught my eye about Forte was the price: $229 for the premium product.  Other leading music notation software costs more than twice that much (1, 2).

The second thing I noticed was the simple layout.  The toolbars were easy to read and I was able to start writing music fairly quickly.

Forte Premium 6 Music Notation Software Toolbar

Forte offers several modes of note entry.  I used two of them:

Click note-by-note works faster than Finale because the cursor “snaps” to the next beat subdivision and rests place themselves, allowing you to enter notes anywhere in the measure and not worry about parsing out the rests.  I found myself using this method most of the time.

Click Note-By-Note - Forte Premium 6

Insert using the computer keyboard is fairly fast once you have set the parameters for how far above or below the staff the cursor can go.  I used this method some of the time and became fairly effective with it in a short amount of time.

Computer Keyboard Note Entry Method - Forte Premium 6

I was not able to test the Midi input via keyboard at this time.

The various Views were unique and very useful.  I particularly like the Screen view, which fits the staves to the size of your monitor.

Screen View - Forte Premium 6

Perhaps my favorite feature is the ability to use the cursor to click on and edit anything in the score, without first selecting a particular category from the Input Palette.  I could click on names of tracks, dynamics, text blocks, or anything else and immediately edit those objects.

I tested the XML export feature and exported my score to another program successfully without losing any notation.

Mac users will have to watch from the sidelines at this point, seeing as Forte is only available on PC. Advanced composers may encounter a few complexities editing some layout details (cross-staff notation), a few language bugs (“Componist” instead of “Composer”, “Zurück” instead of “Back”), and one or two kinks that need to be worked out (Every time I began inputing music using the Click note-by-note method the cursor would snap back to the beginning of the piece, which is annoying when you are 50 measures away).

The bottom line is that Forte Premium 6 Music Notation Software is a solid product and can offer you more bang for the buck than any other music notation software in it’s price range.

Guest Worship Artist Matthew Smith and Indelible Grace

On September 13 and 14 Matthew Smith and Indelible Grace will be at Covenant Life Church leading us in worship.

Matthew Smith

Matthew Smith

Here is his bio from his website:

Matthew Smith is a Nashville-based singer-songwriter who writes brand new music to centuries-old hymn texts.  He is a founding member of the Indelible Grace community, whose work has drawn acclaim across denominational lines and is used in churches around the world.  Born out of a college ministry, the reimagined hymns have found wide acceptance both among college students and the church at large, joining people who desire to honor tradition with those who want a modern musical approach.  His latest album is Hiding Place.

On Saturday, September 13 Matthew will lead a free, one-hour worship seminar from 5-6 pm, and then Indelible Grace will join Matthew for a Night of Reimagined hymns from 7-8:30 pm.  A love offering will be taken during the concert, but admission is free.  Sunday, September 14, Matthew Smith and Indelible Grace will participate in the Worship services at 9 and 11:15.

His music has a bluesy, earthy feel, matching his rich baritone voice well.  I particularly enjoy the Hammond B-3 strains and tube-y hollow-body guitar on his Communion Hymn: Lord Jesus, Comfort Me.

At the seminar Matthew will share his vision for re-imagining old hymn texts.  Worship leaders, songwriters, and musicians are welcome to attend, as well as any who want to learn more about what Matthew is doing.

For more information, go to the event Facebook page.  For more information on Indelible Grace, visit their website  I hope to see you there!

Demand or Desire?

Hello, friends.  I have been incognito for a while, but I want to share a piece of my thought process with you so that you can chew on it as well.

I have been reading Inside Out, by Larry Crabb.  Crabb makes a distinction in Chapter 8 between desires and demands.

As human beings we are completely expected to have deep desires and to experience deep pain, and we are expected to be able to share that with each other.

I am grateful to have that fact validated.  I have experienced plenty of people who were uncomfortable with acknowledging pain.  I myself have been guilty of trying to push through pain and resolve it too quickly.  Learning that it is ok to hurt and have unmet desires has been a relief.

When our desires and hurts are not met or healed in the time frame we desire, however, we can easily turn to demanding that our desires be met or that our hurts be healed.  Job did this when he demanded God declare him not guilty.

Unfortunately, when we demand something of God we are not trusting him.  Job discovered this when God questioned him, and Job repented.

In my most difficult moments I know that I have demanded things of God rather than trusting in his sovereignty, and I have a feeling I will continue to learn that lesson in the coming years.

God is God and I am not, and the sooner I recognize that, the sooner I will be at peace regardless of my circumstances.

How about you?  Do you turn to demanding things of God when his answers are slow in coming or are not what you expect?

2013 in review

Happy New Year, everyone! The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog. Thanks for following and reading!

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,200 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Two Essential Truths for a Fulfilling Life, Part 2

I have found that many of the relationship problems I face relate in some way to incorrect or incomplete communication. I do not say what I need to say, or when I say what I am thinking I say it unkindly. When someone else speaks to me I do not hear them clearly or I assume what they mean rather than truly understanding them.

Communication is key. As John Mayer says, “Say what you need to say.”

So why do we fall short in this area so often? If we know what the problem is, why can’t we fix it?

The Core of the Matter

Ever since Adam and Eve sinned the first time we have been born flawed. We are sinners, without hope on our own. As God says in Isaiah 53:6, “We have turned—every one—to his own way.”

We mean well. When we see a problem we dig in to fix it. We read books, talk to counselors, journal, change what we say, talk more and listen harder.

Sometimes we see improvement. If we do it is usually short lived; then we return to a version of who we were all along.

We cannot make these kinds of changes on our own. We need Gospel, good news, that only Christ can give us, but we still try to “pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.” We are Americans. We are self-made people, or so we think.

True Change

If we cannot effectively change ourselves, how do we change?

  1. Accept Christ’s solution. Christ suffered, died and rose to break the sin-curse. The sinless Son of God died for our sin and rose to break the power of sin. You must first surrender your life to him in order to break the chokehold of sin.
  2. Accept Christ’s love. You need to realize that God loves you just as you are, in all your faults and sin. You do not need to change to be loved.
  3. Accept responsibility. Confess to God and to whomever else has been affected your failure and struggle to communicate or listen well. Own your part of the problem.
  4. Accept help. Ask God to change you, then read the books, visit the counselor, journal, and have someone keep you accountable. The difference is that you realize God has to change you at your core in order for the change to be permanent. You are doing what you know to do, but God is doing the heart work to make your work stick.
  5. Rinse and repeat.

You are still a flawed human being and you will make mistakes, so you will have to do this process repeatedly. You will sin again because you are not perfect, but you can know you are loved and that God is working in you and that God will ultimately make you perfect when he returns.

We, as believers, have hope. We can truly learn to “Say what we need to say,” with God’s help.

Are you still trying to change yourself, or have you asked Christ to change your heart?

Two Essential Truths for a Fulfilling Life, Part 1

Conflict is not fun. We all know this, because this is why we shy away from creating conflict. Sometimes creating conflict, however, is the best way to show love.

Christ and Conflict

Jesus intentionally created conflict.

  • The law of the Pharisees said healing was work and, therefore, should not be done on a Sunday. Jesus healed anyways right in front of them.
  • Any form of harvesting grain was forbidden on the Sabbath, yet Jesus allowed the disciples to pluck and eat grain as they walked.
  • The temple leaders allowed selling animals and other commerce in the temple courts. Jesus made a whip, flipped tables, and rebuked them.
  • At one point Jesus proclaimed that his followers would need to eat his flesh and drink his blood.

Why did the Prince of Peace create so much conflict?

Today we do not see creating conflict as Christ-like, but nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus created conflict often. He created a different kind of conflict, however, than we often create.

We are most familiar with un-Christ-like conflict. We argue and fight because our expectations are not met, we say unkind things because we are angry, we take what is not ours. We armchair quarterback life, proclaiming how we would do things differently and how much better life would be if everyone did things our way.

We are selfish, prideful people. Jesus was not.

Jesus never argued selfishly, snapped angrily at someone, or felt like he was entitled to anything. He never got upset because one of his expectations was not met, and he never said, “I told you so.”

Jesus used conflict as a tool to initiate healthy change in people’s lives and to open people’s eyes to truth.

  • Jesus healed on the Sabbath because the Pharisees had turned a day of rest into a burden.
  • Jesus allowed his disciples to pluck grain on the Sabbath because the Pharisees were more focused on outward obedience than on inward surrender.
  • Jesus drove the money changers and business people out of the temple because the leaders were more concerned about making money than they were on prayer and the health of people’s hearts.
  • Jesus told his followers to eat his flesh and drink his blood because he knew that many of his followers were only there for the show.

Creating Conflict Correctly

Proverbs 27:6 (AMP) says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are lavish and deceitful.”

Sometimes the only way forward in life requires conflict. That conflict may be difficult, but it is the only way to resolve an issue. According to this proverb we prove ourselves to be true friends when we are not afraid to wound our friends. An enemy will try to cover over an issue and brush it under the rug in order to keep things pleasant and enjoyable.

I have to admit that many times I have been more of an enemy than a friend because I was too afraid to bring up a difficult issue. I valued my own comfort more than the health of a situation.

  • When we are offended and we are not able to resolve it internally within a short period of time, God calls us to speak up about how we were offended. The discussion may be hard and uncomfortable, but if the conflict is handled with grace and humility the result will be a healthier relationship.
  • When a co-worker does not follow through on an assignment, we love them best and we are better businesspeople when we go directly to them and speak about it.
  • When we are leading a rehearsal and someone messes up a part, everyone needs us to step up and kindly correct the mistake.

Conflict is necessary for growth, and when we avoid conflict we are impeding our growth and the growth of everyone involved.

Two notes are in order.

  1. Do not create conflict with a person who has proven to react in an abusive way physically, verbally, or emotionally. Get counsel and help in those situations before engaging the person at fault.
  2. Remember that a problem usually has two parts, which means that we must always remain humble and willing to own our part of the problem, no matter how small.

Where do you need to demonstrate love by being willing to create necessary conflict?

Two Essential Truths for a Fulfilling Life, Prologue

What are the key truths you live by?  Have you ever thought about what principles guide your life?


We all have them.

We all have core beliefs that shape how we live.  Some of us have intentionally chosen those beliefs, and some of us are riding on the coattails of others.  We are trying to be like (insert name here), so our values mirror our idol.  We often do not think twice about the values of the person we are following.

In the next several weeks I want to share what I believe are two Essential Truths for a Fulfilling Life.  These two truths are only a drop in the bucket, but they are two of the principles I value.

In presenting these truths I run the risk of someone thinking I “have it all together.”  Well, let’s put that one to rest.  I do not.

My life is fulfilling in many ways, but there are many areas of my life that need work, just like yours.

I invite you to comment and join in the journey with me.  Part 1 coming next week.