SmartMusic Finale Garritan MusicXML

More SmartMusic Practice Tools for Jazz

Last fall I shared a Practice Tools for Jazz blog post that served as an introduction to the jazz patterns and improvisation exercises included in SmartMusic. Today I’ll follow-up with some tips on how to find and use SmartMusic’s jazz-themed method books, jazz band charts, and imported MP3 files.

Method Books

To get started, go to the SmartMusic “FIND MUSIC” page and open the “Method Books” category.


In the Methods window, click on the “Jazz Ensemble” tab  to see the following Jazz Ensemble method books:

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Each of these books offers great tools to develop jazz improvisation and jazz ensemble playing skills:

  • “Developing the Language of Jazz” features several ear training exercises, call and response and basic riffs.
  • “Essential Elements for Jazz Ensemble” has several “workouts” for Swing, Blues, Latin, scales and more.
  • “First Place for Jazz” features several ear training and call and response exercises as well as lead sheets.
  • “Standard of Excellence Jazz Ensemble” features warm ups as well as rhythm studies and improvisation studies based on jazz band charts.

Full Jazz Ensemble Charts with Audio Accompaniment

Today SmartMusic includes more than 400 jazz band charts that include MP3 audio accompaniment and pre-defined assignments. To find them, click on FIND MUSIC, select “Concert and Jazz Band…” and specify “Jazz Ensemble.” The degree of difficulty indicated for these arrangements is based on the JW Pepper® skill levels.

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For an example of what this repertoire looks like, the following is an alto sax part for “Hunting Wabbits” as recorded by Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band.

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This piece includes the following features:

  • Performers can slow down the tempo of the MP3 accompaniment and practice at a slower tempo.
  • The blue hyperlink at the top of the chart links to a video of Gordon Goodwin and Wayne Bergeron talking about how the band puts their own musical “stamp” on this performance.
  • And of course, each part has “red & green” assessment features.

Importing MP3 Files

Another powerful feature in SmartMusic is the ability to import any MP3 audio file for practice or to be shared as an assignment. To import an MP3:

  • Click “MP3 Audio Files” on the left side of your screen
  • Click the IMPORT button, then select your MP3 and click OPEN


Here’s what the result looks like in SmartMusic:

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With imported MP3 files you can:

  • Change the key of the recording by half steps
  • Change the tempo of the recording with hihg-quality time stretching
  • Loop any portion of your recording
  • Send out the recording with your parameters as assignments for students.

In addition to importing MP3s, any content created in Finale can easily be exported as a SmartMusic file. SmartMusic files created in Finale have all of the same characteristics as files that come pre-loaded in SmartMusic.

SmartMusic has many great features for the developing or advanced jazz student. I urge you to explore them. Have any questions? Please let us know by clicking on “Comments” below.

Grammy Music Educator of the Year Jared Cassedy

Jared Cassedy

This year, for the second time ever, the Recording Academy and Grammy Foundation recognized a music educator for outstanding contribution to music in the classroom. This year’s recipient is band director Jared Cassedy from Windham High School in Windham, New Hampshire.

In watching the CBS interview I was first tickled to see SmartMusic projected on the wall of Mr. Cassedy’s band room, but was soon caught up in the drama of the well-executed piece, and reminded, yet again, of the awesome influence a great teacher can provide. I especially liked the humility with which Mr. Cassedy responded to the question of how he felt about being nominated for a Grammy:

“I was taken aback. It’s a wonderful recognition. I see it more as a recognition of the students.”

On behalf of everyone at MakeMusic, I’d like to extend our congratulations and thanks to Mr. Cassedy as well as the other finalists recognized here.

SBO Names SmartMusic “Best Student Reward Incentive”

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Boulder, CO – January 25, 2015 – MakeMusic’s SmartMusic software was named “Best Student Reward Incentive” by School Band & Orchestra magazine at the 2015 NAMM music industry trade show in Anaheim, CA. The award was part of SBO’s Best Tools for Schools presentation at the NAMM Idea Center.

Pictured left to right above are Sonia Bertek (MakeMusic director of marketing), Mike Lawson (SBO executive director), and Giovanna Cruz (MakeMusic education services specialist)

“Given that SmartMusic for the iPad won SBO’s Best Concert Band/Orchestra Teaching Tool last year, we were very pleasantly surprised to learn that SmartMusic was recognized again this year,” said Sonia Bertek, MakeMusic’s director of marketing. “Upon reflection, however, we’re honored that the judges perceive the success that SmartMusic offers as the best incentive – and reward – a student can receive. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.”

30 Ensemble Titles Released in SmartMusic

30 new ensemble titles have been released in SmartMusic. This release includes titles for Concert Band, Jazz Ensemble, and String Orchestra.

Title Comp/Arr Publisher Music Type Pepper Level
Cattin’ Latin Martin, David LudwigMasters Concert Band VE
Cotton-Eyed Joe Traditional; Sharp, Chris FJH Music Company Concert Band ME
Doppler Effect O’Loughlin, Sean Carl Fischer Concert Band E
Ethos Clark, Larry Carl Fischer Concert Band VE
Finale from the New World Dvorak, Antonin; Roszell, Patrick Belwin Concert Band E
God’s Country Galante, Rossano Alfred Concert Band MA
Hebrew Medley (Hatikvah and Artsa Alinu) Bobrowitz, David Grand Mesa Concert Band ME
IronHeart Standridge, Randall D. Alfred Concert Band E
Ruckus Standridge, Randall D. Grand Mesa Concert Band ME
Skyburst O’Loughlin, Sean Carl Fischer Concert Band VE
Slavic Celebration Calhoun, Bill Carl Fischer Concert Band E
Song of the Mountain Horn: Music of Bela Bartok LaPlante, Pierre Daehn Publications Concert Band M
Big Clifty Breakdown Fraley, Ryan FJH Music Company Jazz Ensemble ME
Chili Today, Hot Tamale Hirsch, Rick Belwin Jazz Ensemble M
Comfort and Joy Traditional; Hirsch, Rick Belwin Jazz Ensemble M
Five Note Blues, The Beach, Doug; Shutack, George Doug Beach Music Jazz Ensemble VE
Whirly Bird Hefti, Neal; Blair, Peter Belwin Jazz Ensemble ME
Ablaze Bernotas, Chris M. Highland/Etling Publishing String Orchestra ME
Angels in Royal David’s City Gruselle, Carrie Lane FJH Music Company String Orchestra VE
Assemble the Minions! Bishop, Jeffrey S. Wingert-Jones String Orchestra ME
Attila Owens, William FJH Music Company String Orchestra VE
Boreas (The Cold, North Wind) Parrish, Todd Highland/Etling Publishing String Orchestra ME
Dance of the Comedians (From the Opera “The Bartered Bride”) Smetana, Bedrich; Bergonzi, Louis Alfred String Orchestra M
Fire in the Forge Allen, Ted Grand Mesa String Orchestra M
Jazzed-Up & High-Strung Holmes, Brian Wingert-Jones String Orchestra M
Keystone Silva, Alan Lee Carl Fischer String Orchestra MA
Nocturne (From String Quartet No. 2) Borodin, Alexander; Dabczynski, Andrew H. Highland/Etling Publishing String Orchestra M
Silent Echo, A Sweet, George Carl Fischer String Orchestra E
Symphony No. 1 (Movement I) Beethoven, Ludwig van; Hans, Christina Highland/Etling Publishing String Orchestra E
Yo Ho Ho! (We’re a Fiddlin’ Crew) Gruselle, Carrie Lane FJH Music Company String Orchestra VE

You can request a piece for a future SmartMusic release here.

MakeMusic and NAMM 2015

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Do you know the feeling of putting everything you’ve got into preparations for a recital or concert? That’s what the NAMM Show is to folks who make musical instruments, software, and accessories. Each January around 100,000 people from around the world wind up in a convention center in Anaheim, California to be the first to see the latest products and services created for musicians.

This year the show runs January 22- 25, and we’ll be there sharing the latest in SmartMusic and MakeMusic news.

If you plan to attend, please stop by and say hello at the MakeMusic booth, #6210. If you’re not attending, we’ll share some highlights with you via Facebook and Twitter.

Have a guitar manufacturer you’d like me to check out? Let me know by clicking on “Comments” below.

Technology Tools to Help Orchestra Students Develop Critical Thinking Skills

The January 2015 issue of School, Band and Orchestra features an article by MakeMusic education services specialist Giovanna Cruz. View the article in context here by navigating to pages 26-28, or read the text below.

When I was a student, my teachers always stressed the importance of listening to myself in order to improve. I will admit that the thought of it wasn’t always pleasant, but once I got over the initial shock of listening to myself, I realized that recording oneself (or one’s group) is one of the best tools available for learning. Now, how do we do the same with our students? How do we teach them the critical thinking skills that go along with listening to themselves and making adjustments? As an orchestra teacher for 6 years in Austin, TX and to more than 120 students, I used a variety of approaches to prepare our pieces for concerts. My approach ranged from sectionals, string and full orchestra rehearsals, master classes, professional recordings, and lots of repetition with the graduated use the metronome, to incorporating recording technology during rehearsal and computer-based practice aids for home practice.

We all know that having students collaborate and use critical thinking skills is an important part of the learning process. Students in the music classroom already collaborate when they play together and have to fit their part into the whole. But do they know what they are doing? Do they think about their learning and their performance? Do they know how to fix their mistakes and can they verbally identify the issues? Can they provide each other with meaningful, constructive criticism? Students are already surrounded by technology. How can we best leverage that environment which is now native to them? Trying to find an answer to all those questions I started recording my students, using SmartMusic, Googledocs and

First I started using SmartMusic to help me select the pieces of repertoire that I would include in my concerts. The software’s vast library of titles was a starting point for my programming needs. Why SmartMusic? Because its assessment technology and the ability to provide immediate feedback in visual (green and red notes) and aural form (recording), coupled with the ability of the teacher to give individualized comments to the students, allowed me to reach more students in less time and also to truly track their learning and progress. No longer could a student hide in the back of the second violin section. All of a sudden, I could hear ALL students and address issues at the next rehearsal. Students started to come to rehearsal more prepared and I could truly guide their practice at home by setting the parameters of the assignments that I sent them. Also, every “take” the students did while practicing, was recorded. They could go back and listen to every take and make their own adjustments.

Then, I started recording rehearsals and concerts. I did this two different ways: I had bought a Roland R-05 digital recorder to capture my students’ performances. That device, coupled with a cube speaker right at the front of my classroom and an 8th inch cable, were all I needed to play back the recording. I also started using the computer to record them. SmartMusic has a built in digital recorder. I could just place the computer at the front of the room and record every rehearsal.

After every concert, my students were always eager to listen to their performance. I would play back the recording and then ask them to give verbal feedback. Typically, the most verbal students would talk and the quiet ones would remain to themselves. So I decided to turn the tables and make the activity much more interactive by incorporating technology the next time we had a concert.

Our next concert took place about two weeks before going to the state contest (for those readers in TX, that was UIL Concert and Sight Reading). It was a sort of pre-contest run, to see how we were doing, what we still needed to work on, and also to give the parents of the students an opportunity to listen to their kids’ work. The activity I developed required that all students participate in a public online forum that would be displayed on a screen at the front of the classroom while listening to the recording of their concert. The tools used for this activity were 1) the SmartMusic digital recorder and 2) the browser available on the students’ smartphones to access the online sharing wall found at Those students who did not have a smartphone could use the teacher’s computer.

I recorded the concert using the SmartMusic digital recorder and then played it back for the students to listen to the next day. While they were listening, students were asked to follow their individual parts and take notes about what they heard. Then students were to post their comments on, an online wall that was displayed on the screen at the front of the room. The   activity would engage the students in listening to their pre-contest performance while providing insight into the work that remained ahead. The requirements were:

  • Students were to use their name and the first initial of their last name. This would keep them accountable to one another
  • The students had to list the title of the piece they were commenting on, next to their name
  • Students were to post 3 comments per piece and three pieces were performed in the concert
  • The language of each comment had to be positive and respectful, even when commenting on a negative aspect of the performance.

The first thing that happened when I announced that was the activity of the day, was that the students got excited to be able to use their cellphones in class! Everyone pulled their device, went to their browser and pulled the pre-defined wall I had created at

With this format, even those students who didn’t feel like speaking up, had their opinions heard, as they could still participate by typing their impressions, thoughts and analysis of the performance. Each student could see the comments that their peers had made not only on their own device as they were typing, but also on the big screen, where I was projecting the padlet wall.

Once everyone was done listening to the recording and posting their comments, we read them aloud and solicited additional information from students when their comments needed clarification. At the very end, I exported all the comments as a PDF and emailed them to my students and their parents, asking the students to use the comments as guidance for practicing for the contest. All their pieces were in the SmartMusic library and now they not only had my feedback and their own comments, but also those of their peers. That was great collaboration!

After listening to a performance, students can post their comments via the Padlet app.

This activity could be taken one step further by using Response Assignments within the SmartMusic gradebook. The teacher could attach the PDF that was created with everyone’s comments and ask the students via a Response Assignment to 1) synthesize the information and create a document that contained the top three issues in each piece 2) develop a plan for addressing those issues as a group and 3) develop a plan to address the issues individually. The students would then attach a document with the answers to the response assignment. Though a little time intensive, this activity would deepen the knowledge and critical thinking skills of the students as well as give ownership of the process of improvement.

With this activity, not only did the students work on their critical listening and thinking skills, but also on collaboration, a very coveted skill for 21st century learners. The activity also addresses the Creating, Responding and Connecting strands of the National Core Art Music Standards as well as state-specific standards, not only in music, but also in the use of technology in education.

I hope this article inspires you to use technology in new and creative ways in your orchestra classroom.

with cello 2[4]Giovanna Cruz is a cellist and educator with extensive experience as an orchestral and chamber musician, college and private studio teacher, and public school teacher. Giovanna spent the last six years as Orchestra Director at James Bowie High School, in the Austin Independent School District, where she taught more than 120 annually in four orchestras. Her varsity group earned sweepstakes at UIL Concert and Sight-Reading contest in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014 and performed in festivals across the country, namely in Corpus Christi and Richmond, VA. Her other groups earned excellent ratings at the same competitions. Giovanna holds the degrees of Bachelor of Education from the Universidad Metropolitana in Caracas, Venezuela, and Master and Doctor of Musical Arts in cello performance from the University of Iowa. She currently works as education services specialist at MakeMusic Inc., the manufacturer of Finale, and SmartMusic software.

Educator Spotlight – Emily Stover

Emily Stover is an elementary music educator in Princeton, Illinois. Katlyn Rumbold recently interviewed Emily about her use of SmartMusic for and kindly agreed to let us share that interview here:

815: Out of all the music technology out there, why SmartMusic?

Emily Stover: SmartMusic is a cloud based program that provides recorded accompaniment and instant assessment for students, amateur, and professional musicians alike. Once the program is downloaded, the user has access to thousands of songs, from simple beginning band and recorder music, to well-known arias and concertos often performed by collegiate and professional musicians. Of all the music programs provided right now, it is the most comprehensive and user-friendly program available.

815: How do you use SmartMusic in the classroom?

ES: I have been using SmartMusic in my music classes for 4 years now. I project the program for the class using a SmartBoard and play the songs, while the class follows along. I have used the program for 4th grade recorders, beginning band, intermediate bands, and Jr. High choirs. The students play or sing along with the music, as a green bar clicks along the screen to help the students follow the beat. I use it in choir to help teach sight-reading skills, but I mainly use it with the beginning band students to aid them in learning their new instruments.


815: What is one major benefit from the teacher’s perspective?

ES: As mentioned previously, I have been using the program in my classrooms for about four years now, but last year I required all the beginning band students to purchase the program for at-home use. This is a benefit to me, as the students now have a teaching aid to work with at home, but it also allows me to send the students playing assignments. The program records the students playing their songs, and then they are submitted to me. I am then able to listen to each student’s recording and send him/her feedback on how he/she can improve. This provides me with recorded documentation on how the students play throughout the year, which is used to progress their improvement/decline, and can be played for parents to discuss the child’s progress in band.

815: What is one major benefit from the student’s perspective?

ES: The students love it! They get to practice their instruments with a computer, it is almost like a game for them. They play the songs over and over again, until they see that coveted 100% assessment score. It makes practicing more fun, and they are held accountable for their practicing…Am I playing the correct notes? Am I playing them at the right time? Am I in tune? Those questions are answered by the program, so students learn how to read music faster, and have more fun doing it.

815: Have you seen improvement since you started using the program?

ES: Yes, a lot. My first group of beginning band students who all had SmartMusic at home improved faster and sounded better at their first concert than any other group I have taught. I also have parents telling me that their child actually likes practicing! Students that consistently use the program at home progress faster and are able to fluently read music quicker than other students.


Emily Stover
After taking a year off from teaching to receive her master’s degree at Goldsmiths, University of London in 2013, Emily Stover is on her fifth year of teaching music for Princeton Elementary in Princeton, Illinois. She currently teaches 5th grade beginning band, 6-8th grade choirs, 5th grade and kindergarten general music. Her husband, Brandon Stover, also teaches music for Princeton Elementary, directing the 6-8th grade bands and co-teaching beginning band and choir. Emily received her music education degree from Millikin University in Decatur, IL in 2009. Her primary instruments are oboe and piano.

Piece of the Week: Music from Star Wars

Music from Star Wars

Can’t wait for the new Star Wars movie to come out in 2015? Neither can we. But did you know that SmartMusic has pieces drawn from the original Star Wars music for you to download and play with your band or full orchestra? While you and your students are on the edge of your seats waiting for Episode VII: The Force Awakens to come out, why not program John Williams beloved Star Wars Marches for your concert band, or go all out and play the themes from all six of the previous Star Wars films as arranged in The Star Wars Epic, Part I and II (both from Alfred Music Publishing). Adding these pieces to your concert calendar just might be the perfect way to harness the Star Wars excitement that your students–and their parents–are feeling, and channel it towards your band or orchestra program.

Audio Sample: Star Wars – The Marches

Audio provided by Alfred Publishing Co., Inc.

Audio Sample: “Duel of the Fates” from Star Wars Epic, Part I

Audio provided by Alfred Publishing Co., Inc.

Audio Sample: “Star Wars Main Title” from Star Wars Epic, Part II

Audio provided by Alfred Publishing Co., Inc.

Composition Notes: The Star Wars Epic, Part I and II

The Star Wars movie phenomenon has captured the imaginations of three generations of movie fans worldwide. Beginning in 1977 with the release of “Episode IV: A New Hope,” the vision of George Lucas combined with the music of John Williams has resulted in the most successful series of films and the most recognized movie in music history. Arranger Robert W. Smith has drawn upon the imagination of John Williams and George Lucas to create Suite from the Star Wars Epic – Part I and Part II, which includes music from all six movie episodes. Part I opens with “Duel of the Fates” from Episode I: The Phantom Menace, and the journey through the galactic empire begins. The hauntingly beautiful “Across The Stars” from Episode 2: Attack of the Clones is followed by the theme from Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith, completing the first part of the listener’s interstellar musical travel. Part II continues with “Princess Leia’s Theme” from Episode IV: A New Hope (aka the original 1977 Star Wars). Episodes V and VI (The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) give us the menacing sounds of “The Imperial March” and the lighthearted, yet powerful “Forest Battle.” The suite continues with the “Star Wars (Main Title),” drawing the musical epic to a fitting conclusion. Suite from the Star Wars Epic is dedicated to John Williams, whose life’s work and musical legacy will endure for centuries to come.

Composer Biography: John Williams

John Williams was born in Flushing, New York on February 8, 1932. While Williams’ career has spanned the full range of music, through his involvement with composing, arranging, and conducting, he is best recognized for the scores he composed for major motion pictures. Williams’ father, a studio musician, encouraged him to be a musician. He studied piano from the age of eight, and later learned trombone, trumpet, and clarinet. In 1948, Williams’ family moved to Los Angeles, and there he studied orchestration with Robert van Epps and composition with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. He later returned to New York to study piano with Rosina Lhevinne at the Julliard School of Music. In Hollywood, Williams got his start as a studio pianist, but soon moved into the field of film composition. He produced his first full film score for “I Passed For White” in 1960 and continued throughout the decade to write primarily for comedies. In the 1970s, he wrote scores for a series of popular disaster films including “The Poseidon Adventure” (1972) and “The Towering Inferno” (1974). Williams’ score for a film entitled “The Reivers” (1969) got the attention of the young Steven Spielberg, and he engaged Williams to write the music for “Jaws” (1975). Spielberg also recommended Williams to his friend George Lucas for a project he was starting named “Star Wars” (1977). From there, Williams became recognized as the foremost orchestral film score composer of the era, winning Academy awards for both his “Jaws” and “Star Wars” scores. The film scores Williams has composed form an extensive list of some of the most successful film projects of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. A short list includes “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977), “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980), “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” (1982), “Return of the Jedi” (1983), “Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom” (1984), “Home Alone” (1990), “Jurassic Park” (1993), and “Schindler’s List” (1993). In addition to film work, Williams has composed a number of concert works, including “Essay” for strings (1966) and “Symphony No. 1″ (1966). He composed the Olympic Fanfare and Theme (1984) and in 1985 was commissioned by NBC to write several themes for its news shows. In 1980, Williams replaced the popular Arthur Fiedler as the conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra.

Got an idea for a blog post? Contact us!

If you are an educator, musician, composer or student with a suggestion for a “piece of the week” blog post, you can email your suggestion to Griffin at gwoodworth at makemusic dot com. Please let me know the name of the piece, composer, publisher, and why this piece is special to you.

Piece of the Week: Gymnopedie No. 3

Gymnopedie No. 3

Erik Satie was a French composer whose iconoclastic musical experimentation paved the way for many of the avant-garde styles of the early twentieth century. Born in the late nineteenth century and educated at the Paris Conservatoire, Satie rebelled against the strict piano style of his conservatory teachers and against the standard “salon” style of composition popular in polite society. In the late 1880s, Satie found a community of like-minded young artists–including Claude Debussy–at Le Chat Noir, one of Paris’s more bohemian and artistically adventurous of nightclubs. It was during this period that Satie composed his Gymnopedies, a series of meditative pieces that explored slow tempos and nontraditional chord progressions.

Satie’s Gymnopedie pieces (three in total) were first published in 1898 for solo piano, and have been arranged for larger ensembles numerous times. Debussy himself made the first full orchestration, a fact that helped to popularize Satie’s pieces in the first place (due to Debussy’s growing fame at the time). In 1968, the jazz-fusion group Blood, Sweat & Tears released a rock version of Satie’s Gymnopedies  as the lead track on their second album.

In this new arrangement, by Bob Phillips (for Alfred Music Publishing), the lush harmonies and lazy melody of Gymnopedie No. 3 are made accessible for a beginning level full-orchestra.

Composition Notes:

Take your students to festival with this stunning, minimalist piece, arranged with the melody doubled in many sections, for a first full orchestra experience. With an emphasis on slow bows, the easy rhythms and notes are very true to the original piano piece. The first violins play F-natural, but all ranges are beginning level. The performance will sound high level, yet the tune is completely playable. This piece will take your breath away!

Audio Sample:

Audio provided by Alfred Music Publishing Co., Inc.

Composer Biography:

Erik Satie was born in Honfleur, France on May 17, 1866 and died in Paris on July 1, 1925. Although this French composer lived during the Romantic era (1820-1900), his works do not recall a particularly ‘romantic’ flavor. Instead, Satie’s music is characterized by a certain anti-establishment, Bohemian, whimsical quality; one which influenced other French composers such as Debussy, Ravel, and Poulenc. Although he composed for orchestra, chorus, and solo voice, Satie is known best for his many unique piano compositions. As a child, Satie lived with his grandparents and took music lessons from a local organist in Honfleur. His education continued in Paris, where he went to live with his father, a music publisher, and his new stepmother, a pianist and amateur composer, whom he disliked. Satie occasionally attended his classes at the Paris Conservatory and, although his teachers thought him talented, they also felt that he was lazy and irresponsible. Evidently, Satie’s poor study habits were representative of his personality as a whole: he often flaunted his disrespect for the establishment by poking fun at it through his music. When critics accused him of having no concept of musical form, Satie turned the criticism into a joke with his piano composition “Trois Morceaux en forme de poire” (Three Pear-Shaped Pieces). Many of his works for piano bear similar odd or humorous titles. Satie also experimented with musical composition in ways that influenced later twentieth-century composers like John Cage. For example, Satie wrote an instrumental composition where performers were instructed to stand at different places in the concert hall and play different pieces. In addition, he wrote a piano piece which bore the instruction that it be repeated consecutively 840 times.

Got an idea for a blog post? Contact us!

If you are an educator, musician, composer or student with a suggestion for a “piece of the week” blog post, you can email your suggestion to Griffin at gwoodworth at makemusic dot com. Please let me know the name of the piece, composer, publisher, and why this piece is special to you.

Using SmartMusic and Finale together

Using SmartMusic and Finale Together

Martha Boonshaft, Middle School Director of Bands for the Garden City School District in Garden City, NY, shares how she uses SmartMusic and Finale together to enhance her students’ learning experiences.

A lesson that worked really well this week combined SmartMusic and Finale.  Our concert band is working on on Ralph Ford’s, Dillon’s Flight.  It is a great piece that is primarily in 5/4 and 6/4.

  • Starting in measure 68, there is a fugal section with hemiola and syncopation in many of the parts.
  • The low brass section was having great difficulties placing all of the upbeats.
  • I did not want to exclude the rest of the band from learning this valuable counting.

I wrote the part into Finale and printed it for the entire band.


Next, I opened Dillon’s Flight in SmartMusic, and displayed the trombone part.

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As a group:

  • Everyone worked through all of the rhythm patterns together.
  • Our full group practice helped the low brass/low winds be more confident and secure with their parts.
  • Using SmartMusic greatly helped the rest of the band understand what was being played against their parts.

I highly recommend using both SmartMusic and Finale together in this way. I have done this in the past also and it is a great way to keep the entire band engaged and learning.

Marth BoonshaftMartha Boonshaft has been teaching music for 30 years. The last 13 years she has been the Middle School Director of Bands for the Garden City School District in Garden City, New York. A proponent and advocate for SmartMusic, Mrs. Boonshaft has been using this practice tool for the past seven years with as many as 300 students at a time. She has presented SmartMusic sessions at multiple conferences on the east coast as well as staff development workshops for individual school systems through Long Island.