Editor, McLerran Journal
Assistant Band Director, Center ISD, TX
Thank you to Jill Bates (Assistant Band Director at Killeen High School, TX) for suggesting this article.
Several music programs across the United States suffer from the same deficiencies; lack of instructional time, lack of funding, and poor equipment. With SmartMusic, directors can provide access to professional-level music tutoring to all of their students simultaneously.
What is SmartMusic?
SmartMusic is an online service designed to streamline music education with technology integration. It was developed by MakeMusic, the same company that brought us Finale (notation software), Garritan (virtual instruments), and Music XML (score-sharing software).
MakeMusic’s mission is to encourage “deliberate practice” and provide access to professional-level feedback to all levels of band, string, and vocal instruction. Users can access SmartMusic on multiple devices including laptops, desktops, chromebooks, and ipads. If students in either a rural or economically disadvantaged area do not have access to the internet or electronics at home, educators can designate a practice room (computer/microphone) for SmartMusic assignments. Like a private lesson teacher, the system gives students immediate feedback about incorrect notes or rhythms. There is also an accessible Gradebook feature that allows educators to track student progress remotely.
What else can you use it for?
Practice Reports. Educators no longer need to be constantly printing and keeping track of paper practice reports. Students can log into the SmartMusic program and save their progress online for directors to check when it is convenient. This saves both storage space in your office and funds on ink and paper.
Solo and Ensemble Accompanists. Not only can students practice with their “accompanist” as many times as they like, it saves the band program from having to pay a pianist $10-50 per student annually. This is also a helpful feature when it comes to the Solo and Ensemble contest itself. Since the “accompanist” can be in multiple rooms simultaneously, directors no longer must agonize over a complicated performance schedule.
Pass-offs. If every student passes off even one selection of music per grading period, it can put an enormous time constraint on the staff. Using SmartMusic for student homework assignments allows directors to be present or use the time before and after school for lesson planning and paper work. Quality control is not an issue since the program points out to students when they have made an error in the music. This method also eliminates the need for physical pass-off signature sheet that can be illegible or get lost easily.
Sight-reading Practice. Since not all band programs have the rehearsal time to practice sight-reading, online assignments can supplement a complete music education. The SmartMusic program allows students to practice sight-reading as often as they like, without directors having to constantly make physical copies.
How much does it cost?
SmartMusic has both a free plan and a program with more features called “TEACH.” This plan starts at $399 per year and can be modified depending on the needs of the music program. Find out if this product fits your budget at https://www.smartmusic.com/purchase/
When first purchasing the SmartMusic program, educators do not need any prior knowledge of the software. MakeMusic offers multiple training opportunities including a two-hour virtual training session ($200) and multiple eLearning courses (free).
For more details, visit http://www.makemusic.com/university/
Career Opportunities in Music Technology
MakeMusic is proud to assist in the development of helpful technologies that improve the state of music education. Find out more about a career in music technology at http://www.makemusic.com/careers/
*The McLerran Journal is not affiliated with MakeMusic, Inc. Proper permission was obtained before this article was published.