When I write, I do it at the piano with a black Pilot G2 fine-point pen and manuscript paper. It's the easiest and fastest way to take notes out of my head and put them into some physical medium. When I'm finished with whatever I'm working on, I use MuseScore to make it pretty. I haven't used Finale or Sibelius since I was but a wee lad, so I have no idea of what kind of crazy-powerful features they're packing these days, but when it comes to creating solo piano scores, I have yet to find a thing MuseScore can't do, and my scores can get fairly complex, notationally.
MuseScore is free and open-source software, available for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux, so I expect that a lot of more casual music-notators (that's a word now) will reach for it over the more professional options on the market as well as the more daunting ones (e.g., LilyPond, whose output is amazing but whose learning curve is so precipitous that it's not worth bothering to use except for bizarre, avant-garde notational elements).
Especially when streaming, I come across a lot of horrid scores. Just as how a person may read a lot of books but have difficulty putting a valid sentence together, a pianist might play from a lot of sheet music but never think about how the notes are actually laid out on the page. I did some pretty idiotic stuff when I first started writing things down by hand. Like anything else, you get better at it the more you do it.
That said, I thought it'd be a nice idea to share some notational tricks I use a lot in my piano writing, as well as how to replicate those tricks in MuseScore. First up: cross-staff beaming.
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