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.


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