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A Note from Steve Struhar, SmartMusic’s New Product Manager



Given the recent updates to SmartMusic on both desktop and iPad, it is a good time to introduce you to the new SmartMusic Product Manager, Steve Struhar. These updates are his first since taking the SmartMusic helm in December. As Product Manager, Steve is responsible for listening to our customers, knowing the market and translating those needs into future updates and releases, as well as prioritizing the development cycles. Steve is a Trumpet player, and experiences that led him to his current role include:

  • 5 years teaching 7-12 band in Sloan, Iowa
  • 3 years in the 113th Army Band – Fort Knox, KY
  • 6 years in the MakeMusic QA department

I asked Steve to write a note about why SmartMusic is important to music education. This is what he had to say:

Steve close upOur lives are crazy. There is no time to do the things we know we need to do.  As a compromise, we sacrifice. The question is: Are we sacrificing the right things?  As music educators we want our students to be better musicians, and to appreciate music at a deep level that turns them into life long musicians.  We want them to do this because we know it will enrich their lives, and further, we want to be the person that changes their lives. We want this so badly that we sacrifice our time and resources to make it so.

We can and do spend our time in class rehearsing ensembles and making sure they sound great as a group, but we know we also need to ensure that students are learning the things that they need to be better musicians individually.  If we take time to listen to each student, we can help them develop confidence and accountability, but listening to students in class takes a lot of time.  Not only that, but it’s is tough to make sure that other students are engaged or at least staying focused during this kind of exercise.  SmartMusic is the answer.

Students can practice and perform thought-out performance assessments using SmartMusic at home instead of doing it in class.  It’s not like typical homework because SmartMusic helps them learn while they practice. Most of our students’ homework is straight input, and takes days to receive feedback.  SmartMusic provides the ability for them to thoughtfully work through sections of music that you help them define. SmartMusic helps them understand what notes and rhythms they need to work on by turning their input into meaningful output while they work.  It also shows their parents issues they might not know about their child’s performances, increasing their involvement in student progress.  These small thoughtfully created assignments can refocus your rehearsals on the group, and still provide the ability for you to listen to individual students and provide them meaningful feedback about that which only humans can provide feedback: musicality.  Grading assignments may take time, especially when you listen to student recordings and provide them the feedback they deserve (they did take the time to perform it after all), but I argue that this is the most important work we do.  This is the craftsmanship in our profession and the kind of care we should be providing for our students.

Ignite a fire in your students.
Steve Struhar, SmartMusic Product Manager

Let us know what you think about the recent SmartMusic updates by commenting below, and please share on Facebook and Twitter (at the top of the post)!

Are you in Minnesota? Steve is hosting a meeting in Eden Prairie on February 20th from 6:00 – 7:30. Reserve your spot at this meeting here; last I checked there were 4 spots still available.

 


Comments

  1. by Sergiy Kolokolkin

    Great message from Steve!

    I’m not a teacher, I’m a parent of 5 kids. The words “We want them to do this because we know it will enrich their lives, and further, we want to be the person that changes their lives” resonate with me very well :-)

    It looks like SmartMusic team’s priority is schools, but maybe they will look closer at needs of parents and private teachers too?

    My kids learn singing and piano. I wish SmartMusic had vocal/choral exercises and repertoire, and worked with MIDI pianos/keyboards and had exercises for them.

    If you think about parents spending their time and money on teaching their kids music, what instruments come to your mind? It looks like the majority of private teachers teach piano, then singing, then guitar. Take thezoen.com for example: 139 piano teachers, 93 singing, 93 guitar.

    So, if SmartMusic team wants more parents and private teachers use it, it should bring better support for these 3 most popular music teaching activities. OK, supporting an acoustic guitar wold be close to impossible, but how about better support for singing and MIDI piano? Just my opinion. Otherwise – great product!

    • by Michael Ferry

      Sergiy,

      SmartMusic offers quite a bit of content for vocalists, here’s a detailed list:

      There are accompaniments for over 2,000 vocal solo titles in SmartMusic. Due to licensing there is no music on-screen, so students would use their own sheet music for these titles.

      There are 6 vocal books with music on-screen in the Methods section of SmartMusic:
      o 90 Days to Sight Reading Success
      o Building Beautiful Voices
      o Patterns of Sound, Volume 1
      o Sing at First Sight, Level 1
      o Sing at First Sight, Level 1, Supplemental Companion
      o Sing at First Sight, Level 2

      In Exercises, there is a special section for “Vocal Exercises”, but all sections in Exercises support treble, tenor and bass voices. Just open the drop-down in the upper left corner of an open exercise

      Private vocal teachers can also create SMP files in Finale, and upload MP3 audio files for their students as well.

      TSU vocal professor Cynthia Gonzales explain the many benefits of SmartMusic for vocalists in this video

  2. by Julian Wilson

    I am a band director in Gastonia NC for the Gaston County School District. I am also the technology leader at my school and part of my responsibility is to conduct a workshop using technology at our yearly Teaching and Learning Conference. I would love to conduct a workshop on Smartmusic. I have been using it for probably 6 years or so. Is there anyway I could get access to a classroom package of Smartmusic to use for this session? It will be held at our local community college, Gaston College.

    • by Michael Ferry

      Julian,
      I just sent you an email. Best of luck with your workshop!

  3. by Tom Feledy

    Steve,
    What is your timeline for enabling SmartMusic iPad to accept Finale-created .smp files?
    -Tom Feledy

    • by Michael Ferry

      A little over a month ago. Here’s the blog post. You can also watch a quick video about how SMP’s work on the mobile page.

      Bookmark the blog and follow us on social media (in the footer of the website) to stay up to date on the latest SmartMusic news.

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