I have spent a couple months learning MuseScore with the specific goal of using it to play my favorite classical music solos and jazz music exercises from my teenage years in the 1970's.
I was an alto sax player in my local high school concert band and jazz band. I have only played infrequently since that time and my playing skills have deteriorated.
My two main careers have been as a design drafter and IT professional. I decided to take the software learning skills I have acquired from these careers and use them to play my beloved sax music using a computer.
I started out with the MIDI Edition of Musitek's SmartScore music notation program with its built-in Aria player on-add that uses Garritan sounds. I even purchased the Garritan's Jazz and Big Bands add-on for Aria but found the added controls did not provide the effects I wanted. Perhaps with some work and/or using a Midi keyboard for input, I could get more realistic sounding sax music from the programs, but I wanted an easier (and cheaper) way. I also found SmartScore's focus was more on scanning in existing music. The amount of work need to learn to edit the scanned-in scores seemed a bit daunting.
So, I decided to try out the OpenSource MuseScore music notation program instead. I spent about a month reading the entire manual. I found it easy to learn and was relieved to find that my knowledge of reading music had not deteriorated as much as my manual dexterity has. I also discovered that transcribing the music is an enjoyable activity in itself. In fact, I find writing and modifying the scores as much fun as I do to listening to MuseScore playing them.
I have now transcribed about ten scores into MuseScore and played around with how to adapt them to get the best sounding saxophone I can. I have found that the native MuseScore alto sax soundfont is pretty good in that it has some vibrato built in. I also have experimented with a number of other other sax soundfonts recommended on the MuseScore forum. I recommend that other folks who want to get better sax sounds to try these other soundfounts out too and find one that meets their particular needs.
I wish to pass on a few methods I have learned for how to adapt music scores written using MuseScore for the purpose of using MuseScore to play them and export them out as WAV files. Of course, these hints focus on making MusceScore play in the style that I have used on my actual saxophone.
1) MuseScore does not play Breathe marks so you can leave them off of scores. You can imitate a breathe by adding short rests instead.
2) I like to play musical phrases in a swelling style where the volume gets louder as the phrase proceeds and then gets softer as the phrase ends. To get this effect, I have to exaggerate dynamic changes for the crescendos and decrescendos. I find the phrase has to start at "mp" or "mf" and increase to "ff" or even "fff" to get the effect I want.
3) For accelerandos and decelerandos, I have found changing the tempo for each meaure in the range of measures where the tempo changes to get the effect I want. Another method I have used is to literally extend the lengths of the notes. For example, using quarter notes in places of eight notes. This works well for situations where the tempo change must be dramatic.
4) I have found I need to add more accent notes and staccato notes in MuseScore than in the original scores to reproduce my playing style. The musical scores modified in the ways I have described above would not be suitable for scores that you need to print out and have someone actually play using a musical instrument. However, they do give a bit more life to how MuseScore plays them.
I hope those wishing to use MuseSore in the way I have may find the methods listed above useful. I would love to hear any hints others may have for using MuseScore to play in a more lifelike manner. Finally, I wish to express by deepest gratitude to the makers of MuseScore for creating such a tremendous software program.