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SmartMusic Feature Friday: Creating MP3 Assignments



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In today’s Feature Friday, you will learn the quickest way to add content to SmartMusic – creating MP3s! Once an MP3 is in your SmartMusic library, you can assign it to students for practice or evaluation purposes.

Here are some ways that teachers are using MP3s:

  • Take all or a portion of a large group recording and make an assignment. Students will get the recording, be able to practice with it and submit a recording like any SmartMusic assignment, including on an iPad. Just like other SmartMusic repertoire, the tempo can be slowed down without changing the pitch.
  • Have students listen to recordings that other groups are performing.
  • “Call and response” assignments – using the SmartMusic digital recorder in the Practice Tools, play or sing a short phrase and leave time for the student to respond with the same phrase. Then import the file to create the assignment.
    • Rhythms drills
    • Jazz licks
    • Language drills-diction
    • Technique (i.e., double tonguing, vibrato)
    • Tone quality
    • Ear training
    • Solfege

If you have never imported an MP3 into SmartMusic, just click on this link for step-by-step directions.

Creating MP3 Assignments (After importing a file)

Step 1 

  • Drag or type to set your tempo (100% is the tempo of the imported MP3).
  • Drag or type to set the beginning and ending of your assignment (by time). Be sure to give enough lead-time for students to catch the tempo.
  • Transpose the recording if needed.
  • Click the Assignment button.

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Step 2

  • Name the assignment.
  • Enter Instructions to your students.
  • Choose the Grading style (only notation files have green and red note assessment).
  • Choose the Tempo settings: At Least or Exactly.
  • Associate State Standards to the assignment (optional).
  • Set the Assign and Due dates.
  • Click Schedule.

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Step 3

Any assignment can be tailored for a specific group of students or instruments.

  • Select the Class or Classes.
  • Sort by Name, Instrument or Class by clicking on the category name.
  • Click Done.

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That is it! You have created an assignment using an MP3 recording!

When the student opens the assignment in SmartMusic, it will open with the settings you selected. Like all assignments, students can change settings to practice and do multiple Takes, but only can submit an assignment that has been recorded with the required settings. 

Being able to import any MP3 file into SmartMusic gives you and your students many options for practice and evaluation purposes.

Click on the following links to learn more about Creating Assignments and Implementing SmartMusic in your program.

Have a question or comment? Click on the “Comments” link below.

Piece of the Week: Tower of Power Greatest Hits



Tower of Power Greatest Hits

Tower of Power, the legends of soul music, have been funkifying fans across the world for more than 40 years. Known for their driving grooves, a soaring horn section, soulful vocals, and an extremely tight rhythm section, it is no surprise that the band continues to find success on the touring circuit, where they remain to this day. Many of their songs have become worldwide standards, beloved by audiences young and old.  We at SmartMusic are sure that you and the parents in your audience will recognize these songs instantly, and your students will love playing these foundational funk pieces.

Alfred Publishing Co. has put out fresh arrangements of Tower of Power’s greatest hits for both concert band and full orchestra. Both pieces are medleys, and include Tower of Power’s three best-known songs: “What is Hip?,” “You’re Still a Young Man,” and “Down to the Nightclub.”

For more information about Tower of Power, including a history of the band and biographical information on the players, click here.

Audio Sample: concert band arrangement

Audio provided by Alfred Music Publishing Co., Inc.

Audio Sample: full orchestra arrangement

Audio provided by Alfred Music Publishing Co., Inc.

Arranger’s Notes by Victor Lopez:

This medley provides an opportunity for your concert band or orchestra to get down and play some funky music. However, it is extremely important that everyone pay close attention to the articulations. In other words, all notes have to be articulated precisely as written in order for the ensemble to sound tight. This may require some additional individual practicing and sectionals. The ultimate goal is to make the entire ensemble sound as if one person is playing all of the parts. Obviously, listening to the original version of the titles included in this medley will help younger musicians understand the “funk style” concept.  Ultimately, keep in mind to always strive for “funkiness” and not necessarily loud, heavy playing. Let’s get funky!

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@makemusic.com. Please let me know the name of the piece, composer, publisher, and why this piece is special to you.

SmartMusic Feature Friday: Back to School Resources



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We’ve been busy making sure that SmartMusic is ready for you and your students in the new school year. This week’s Feature Friday is filled with Back to School Resources to help you with a smooth start as you continue using SmartMusic in your program. Click the links to get more information.

Check out the  Educator Resources pageIt has the information you need right now including communicating with parents, IT network information, classroom activity lesson plans and more!

Here are some other SmartMusic highlights:

Class enrollment links

Send a unique class enrollment link to your students so that they can enroll directly into your class. The school and class are already chosen for the student, so enrollment is quick and easy. Watch this video to see how easy it is. If preferred, the standard enrollment process is still available and unchanged.

Enroll students now

 

Finale 2014 Compatible

Import Finale 2014 
created files (SMPX) into SmartMusic. Imagine students using all the capabilities of SmartMusic to practice and prepare audition material or anything else!

Flute Finale

 

Flute SmartMusic

iPad fingering charts

Tap any note to learn the fingerings for your instrument or hear the pitch for voice just like the desktop application.

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Improved rubrics

Create rubrics that can be used to evaluate and score student performance. Levels of achievement can be set up from lowest to highest or vice versa. You can have up to 25 rows for criteria categories.

Rubric order

All of us at MakeMusic wish you and your students a successful school year!

Have any questions or comments? Click the “Comments” link below.

49 New Ensemble Titles Released in SmartMusic



49 new ensemble titles are now available in SmartMusic.

Title Comp/Arr/Lyr Publisher Music Type Pepper Level
Carry On Ruess, Nate & Antonoff, Jack & Bhasker, Jeffrey & Dost, Andrew arr. by Davis, Jerry Alfred Concert Band ME
Celebrate the Season (Fanfare on  Joy to the World ) Conaway, Matt Barnhouse Concert Band E
Classical Gas Williams, Mason arr. by Ford, Ralph Alfred Concert Band ME
Consolation Taylor, Noah D. C. Alan Publications Concert Band ME
Desert Trails Barilone, Dan Kjos Concert Band B
Drums of Rwanda Gillingham, David R. C. Alan Publications Concert Band M
Expert March, The VanderCook, H.A. arr. by Grauer, Mark Daehn Publications Concert Band E
Fantasia on  Kingsfold English Hymn arr. by Longfield, Robert LudwigMasters Concert Band ME
Fiesta de la Playa Fagan, Gary Kjos Concert Band E
Five English Folk Songs Vaughan Williams, Ralph arr. by Feldman, Evan Tierolff-Muziekcentrale Concert Band MA
From Earth to Sky Edmondson, John Kjos Concert Band E
Hammer of the Gods Kiefer, Ed C. Alan Publications Concert Band E
Headway March Fillmore, Henry arr. by Contorno, Nicholas J. Daehn Publications Concert Band E
Imperial Valley March Edmondson, John Kjos Concert Band E
Jubilare Gazlay, Gary Kjos Concert Band ME
Knight’s Last Ride, The Grice, Rob Daehn Publications Concert Band ME
March for a Norwegian Penguin Wagner, Douglas E. Alfred Concert Band VE
Milestone March Gazlay, Gary Kjos Concert Band VE
Paint It, Black Jagger, Mick & Richards, Keith arr. by Barrett, Roland Alfred Concert Band E
Pippin Schwartz, Stephen arr. by Ford, Ralph Alfred Concert Band ME
Remembrance Daehn, Larry Daehn Publications Concert Band ME
Scottish Lullaby Smith, Robert W. Barnhouse Concert Band B
Season of Peace (Dona Nobis Pacem – Silent Night) Traditional & Gruber, Franz arr. by Milford, Gene Daehn Publications Concert Band VE
Selections from Man of Steel Zimmer, Hans arr. by Story, Michael Alfred Concert Band E
Sledding Danner, Greg C. Alan Publications Concert Band E
Song of Hope, A Stamp, Jack Kjos Concert Band E
Statement Gazlay, Gary Kjos Concert Band VE
Suite from Man of Steel Zimmer, Hans arr. by Ford, Ralph Alfred Concert Band ME
Tower of Power Greatest Hits Castillo, Emilio & Garibaldi, David & Kupka, Stephen arr. by Lopez, Victor Alfred Concert Band M
Two, By George Gershwin, George & Gershwin, Ira arr. by Scott, Jason Alfred Concert Band VE
Warp Speed Story, Michael Alfred Concert Band B
Brother Benjamin Beach, Doug & Shutack, George Doug Beach Music Jazz Ensemble VE
Mambonucleosis Woolworth, Rich Jalen Publishing Company Jazz Ensemble M
Night of the Mojito Neu, Andrew Kendor Jazz Ensemble M
Round Midnight Williams, Cootie & Monk, Thelonious arr. by Wolpe, Dave Belwin Jazz Ensemble MA
Round Midnight Williams, Cootie & Monk, Thelonious arr. by Smukal, Mike Belwin Jazz Ensemble ME
Afterburn Standridge, Randall D. arr. by Law, J. Cameron Grand Mesa String Orchestra ME
Allegro Moderato (from Symphony No. 29 in A Major) Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus arr. by McCashin, Robert D. FJH Music Company String Orchestra MA
Brindisi (from La Traviata) Verdi, Giuseppe arr. by Caponegro, John Kendor String Orchestra E
Caribbean Cruise Bobrowitz, David arr. by Law, J. Cameron Grand Mesa String Orchestra E
Carry On Ruess, Nate & Bhasker, Jeffrey & Dost, Andrew & Antonoff, Jack arr. by Roszell, Patrick Alfred String Orchestra M
Ecossaise in G Beethoven, Ludwig van arr. by Halferty, Frank J. Kendor String Orchestra VE
Impresario Overture Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus arr. by Frackenpohl, Steven Kendor String Orchestra MA
Pippin Schwartz, Stephen arr. by Dabczynski, Andrew H. Alfred String Orchestra MA
Salsa Fest! Frueh, George T. Kendor String Orchestra VE
Silver Canoe, The Gruneisen, Lorie Kendor String Orchestra VE
Styres’ Rally Safford, Alexander FJH Music Company String Orchestra MA
We Are Young (As recorded by fun.) Ruess, Nate & Dost, Andrew & Antonoff, Jack & Bhasker, Jeffrey arr. by Story, Michael Alfred String Orchestra ME
Tower of Power Greatest Hits Castillo, Emilio & Kupka, Stephen & Garibaldi, David arr. by Lopez, Victor Alfred Full Orchestra M

 

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

Piece of the Week: Funkytown



Funkytown

Many of us on the SmartMusic team have a special fondness for “Funkytown” because the piece is a hometown success story. Steve Greenberg was a local Minneapolis songwriter, and when he got a recording contract with disco powerhouse Casablanca Records he recruited a band of Minneapolis all-stars to record under the name Lipps Inc. This included lead vocalist Cynthia Johnson, who was an up-and-coming singer in the funk band Flyte Tyme with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis; on guitar was David Rivkin, who would later rise to fame as an engineer for Prince. As these names suggest, Greenberg and Lipps Inc. helped to break the Minneapolis sound onto the national charts, paving the way for the flood of Minneapolis artists like Prince and The Time that followed.

This Alfred arrangement brings Greenberg’s Minneapolis funk classic into the easy concert band repertoire. Though you may remember this piece for its stripped-down synthesizer sound, you’ll love how it sounds with full wind & brass participation. With plenty of percussion, this piece captures the new-wave-funk energy of the original.

Click Here to read an interview with Steve Greenberg on the enduring legacy of “Funkytown.”

 Audio Sample

Audio provided by Alfred Music Publishing Co., Inc.

Composition Notes

Composed by Steven Greenberg in 1980, “Funkytown” was recorded and performed by the studio band Lipps, Inc., featuring lead singer, Cynthia Johnson. It became a number one hit in the United States on the Billboard Hot 100 and Dance charts. Since its debut, the song has re-appeared in countless movies, television programs, and commercials. “Keep me movin’, keeps me grovin’ with some energy…” “Funkytown!”

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@makemusic.com. Please let me know the name of the piece, composer, publisher, and why this piece is special to you.

Feature Friday: SmartMusic Gradebook and Inbox App



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The SmartMusic Gradebook and Inbox App can help you easily guide, evaluate and track student progress. Imagine being able to have immediate access to recordings and assessments completed in SmartMusic, for all students. Here are some of the ways you can use the SmartMusic Gradebook:

  • Give students individualized feedback of their progress.
  • Evaluate progress using a grading scale or rubrics.
  • Have documentation (data) that you can easily share with students, parents and administration.

To learn more about the SmartMusic Gradebook, including creating classes and assignments, enrolling students, and more, click here.

Let’s take a tour after a class has been set up.

First, select a SmartMusic class.

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The Class Page appears.
Click on GRADEBOOK in the top left of the window.

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To grade or review an assignment, click on a score or green speaker icon.

  • The class Gradebook window opens.
  • You can see at a glance if assignments have been submitted or even if they are late!

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Reviewing an assignment

After clicking on a submitted assignment, the Submission Details window displays the amount of time the student spent, a graphic with red and green note assessment, and the student’s recording!

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You can:

  • Listen to the recording.

  • Change the “red and green” note score.

  • Make individualized comments to the student.

  • Email parents directly with the assessment and recording. (Optional)

  • Reassign the assignment to the student.

Print or export any of the information in your Gradebook

  • Select Print and Export from a Class page.
  • Printing options include the entire Gradebook or individualized Progress Reports.
  • Data exports can be a tab delimited text file (.txt), Microsoft Excel (.xls) or a Comma delimited text file (.csv).

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Use the SmartMusic Inbox app to review student assignments!

The SmartMusic Inbox app allows you to review student assessments and recordings anywhere, anytime using an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.  All you need to do is log in with your educator subscription information.The app is a free download from the App Store.

iPad Inbox

The SmartMusic Gradebook is so much more than a regular gradebook.

Other Gradebook features not covered in this post allow you to:

  • Organize and share curriculum with colleagues instantly.
  • Create units of study that remain available to be used again.
  • Create assignments that require students to respond with text and/or by attaching a digital file, including text documents.
  • Link state standards to assignments.

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog on how you can easily share your Gradebook data by using the export feature and creating reports with charts in Excel.

For step-by-step information to get started with SmartMusic, check out our fantastic Implement SmartMusic resource.

Have a question or comment? Click the “Comments” link below.

Piece of the Week: Sleep by Eric Whitacre



Sleep

Eric Whitacre is best known for his groundbreaking “virtual choir” projects, which have brought together thousands of singers from countries across the globe using social media and online video sharing to perform pieces that explore themes of connectivity and transcendence. Whitacre chose “Sleep” as the piece that  his Virtual Choir 2.0 would sing; the video of this performance was released in April 2011 and has (as of this writing) earned over 1.6 million hits on YouTube alone.

Eric Whitacre’s music uses a gorgeous blend of extended harmonies and approachable, pop-music inspired structures. We at SmartMusic love Whitacre’s work and share his mission of bringing people together with innovative online musical experiences.

Composition Notes by Eric Whitacre:

“Sleep” began its life in 2000 as an a cappella choral piece, with a magnificent original poem by Charles Anthony Silvestri. The chorale-like nature and warm harmonies seemed to call out for the simple and plaintive sound of winds, and I thought that it might make a gorgeous addition to the wind symphony repertoire. “Sleep” can be performed as a work for band, or band and mixed chorus.

Click Here to view Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 2.0 perform “Sleep”

Audio Sample:

Audio provided by Mark Custom Recording Service, Inc.

Composer Biography:

An accomplished composer, conductor and lecturer, Eric Whitacre is one of the brightest stars in contemporary concert music. Regularly commissioned and published, Whitacre has received composition awards from ASCAP, the Barlow International Composition Competition, the American Choral Directors Association, and the American Composers Forum. In 2001 he became the youngest recipient ever awarded the coveted Raymond C. Brock commission by the American Choral Directors Association, and his album Light & Gold won a Grammy in 2012. Commercially, Whitacre has worked with such luminaries as Barbara Streisand and Marvin Hamlisch.

Born in 1970, Whitacre has already achieved substantial critical and popular acclaim. The American Record Guide named his first recording, “The Music of Eric Whitacre”, one of the top ten classical albums in 1997, and the Los Angeles Times praised his music as “electric, chilling harmonies; works of unearthly beauty and imagination.” His Water Night has become one of the most popular choral works of the last decade, and is one of the top selling choral publications in the last five years. Ghost Train, his first instrumental work, written at the age of 23, is a genuine phenomenon; it has received thousands of performances in over 50 countries and has been featured on 40 different recordings. His music has been the subject of several recent scholarly works and doctoral dissertations, and his published works have sold well over 350,000 copies worldwide.

As a conductor, Mr. Whitacre has appeared with hundreds of professional and educational ensembles throughout the world. In the last five years he has conducted concerts of his choral and symphonic music in Japan, Australia, Singapore, much of Europe, and dozens of American universities and colleges. Eric received his M.M. in composition from the Juilliard School of Music, where he studied composition with Pulitzer Prize winner John Corigliano.

Click Here for more information on Eric Whitacre’s career, compositions, and current projects.

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@makemusic.com. Please let me know the name of the piece, composer, publisher, and why this piece is special to you.

SmartMusic Feature Friday: Classroom Activities



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We have a new resource that contains many classroom activities that use SmartMusic’s audio and visual components. In addition to having students use SmartMusic as a practice tool at home, using it in the classroom can help engage students so that you can use the time you have to teach more efficiently.

All the activities are set up like a lesson plan and a procedure is given for you to follow. They are in Microsoft .DOC format so that you can edit the plans and personalize them. A blank lesson plan template can also be downloaded so you can create your own.

Here is an example of one activity called Teach Repeats, First and Second Endings without Saying a Word (Almost!)

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This example shows how you can use SmartMusic to teach a concept like the first and second endings. Although first and second endings aren’t very complex, there is still quite a bit of explaining to do. Imagine if you had your students watch an example on the screen as they follow the cursor, hear the accompaniment and then see an arrow showing playback to the repeated target measure and how the cursor “jumps” to the second ending. By asking the students questions, they will tell you how first and second endings work. Personally, the day I tried this in my classroom was a game changer. I could use SmartMusic to help teach concepts by having the students experience it first, them telling me what they experienced and then we could talk about what the concept was called!

To learn more about the classroom activities that are currently available and to download them, click here. To get information about setting up SmartMusic for classroom use, click here.

Do you have some SmartMusic classroom activities to share? Click the “Comments” link below.

 

New String Method Released in SmartMusic



A new string method, Measures of Success for String Orchestra, has been released in SmartMusic.

New string method released

Title Comp/Arr/Lyr Publisher Music Type Pepper Level
Measures of Success for String Orchestra – Violin Gruselle, Carrie Lane & Balmages, Brian & Barnes, Gail V. & Trowbridge, Michael FJH Music Company String Method B
Measures of Success for String Orchestra – Viola Gruselle, Carrie Lane & Balmages, Brian & Barnes, Gail V. & Trowbridge, Michael FJH Music Company String Method B
Measures of Success for String Orchestra – Cello Barnes, Gail V. & Balmages, Brian & Gruselle, Carrie Lane & Trowbridge, Michael FJH Music Company String Method B
Measures of Success for String Orchestra – Double Bass Gruselle, Carrie Lane & Balmages, Brian & Barnes, Gail V. & Trowbridge, Michael FJH Music Company String Method B

 

As always, you can request a piece for a future SmartMusic release here.

New Assessable Solo Repertoire Released



New assessable solo repertoire

Today, new assessable solo repertoire was added to the SmartMusic library. Classic Festival Solos, Vol. 2  is available for the five instruments listed in the table below. Like Classic Festival Solos, Vol. 1, this collection already exists in the SmartMusic library without music on screen. Now, you and your students have the option to use either version! For more information on the features available in this collection as well as practice suggestions, please see the article written by Robert Grifa here.

Title Publisher Music Type Pepper Level
Classic Festival Solos, Vol. 2 – Bb Clarinet CPP/Belwin Solos VE-M
Classic Festival Solos, Vol. 2 – Trumpet CPP/Belwin Solos E-A
Classic Festival Solos, Vol. 2 – Alto Saxophone CPP/Belwin Solos VE-M
Classic Festival Solos, Vol. 2 – Trombone CPP/Belwin Solos VE-M
Classic Festival Solos, Vol. 2 – Horn (F) CPP/Belwin Solos VE-A

 

As always, you can request a piece for a future SmartMusic release here.