Midwest Panel Discussion Video Series Part 1

SmartMusic is interactive music learning software that gives every student and educator solutions for: digital repertoire, practice tools, documenting student progress, music technology integration, instant feedback, iPad implementation, and Finale/MP3 import, just to name a few. On top of that, many educators have a different answer to the question, “Why did I start using SmartMusic?” The difficulty in talking to others about SmartMusic is that it’s hard to accurately convey the possibilities of a program with endless possibilities.

Eric Songer wins Unsung Heroes grant

Eric Songer, band director from Chaska Middle School West, recently won a $12,000 grant from the national ING Unsung Heroes awards program. The $12,000 grant was awarded by ING U.S., which uses the program to give grants to educators throughout the country for innovative teaching ideas. Songer won the grant with his original creation of The Next Generation of Music.

Road to Midwest: Meet Chris Grifa

ChrisGrifaChris Grifa Director of Bands Creekside M.S., Carmel, IN

How long have you been a music educator? 

This will be my 10th year teaching music in public school.

What inspired you to become a musician/teacher?

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a very musical family.

Road to Midwest: Meet Wendy Higdon

WHIGDON (2)Wendy Higdon Director of Bands Creekside M.S., Carmel, IN

How long have you been a music educator?  

I just completed my 22nd year of teaching middle school band.

What inspired you to become a musician/teacher?  

Early in high school, I was getting a lot of pressure to choose a career path.  

Educator Spotlight at T.M.E.A. Pt. 6

Asa Burk
Director of Bands, Grapevine High School

Asa has the unique experience of transitioning to the high school after implementing SmartMusic at Grapevine’s feeder middle school. This experience has pushed him to incorporate SmartMusic into every aspect of his high school band program, and move as much individual playing outside of the classroom as possible.

Educator Spotlight at T.M.E.A. Pt. 5

Rene Lira
Director of Bands, Coyle Middle School

Rene uses SmartMusic extensively both inside and outside the classroom. He uses the standard Gradebook functions such as sight-reading, rhythm, and automated assignments as well as picking concert music from the built-in repertoire. This video shows how Rene:

Uses SmartMusic in the classroom Picks random etudes from a method book to sight-read Grades for submission only on sight-reading Uses the tuner daily Uses the recording feature to archive progress of the full ensemble when preparing for a concert Uses camtasia to explain assignments for over the summer


Rene Lira is currently in his 19th year as a music educator. 

Educator Spotlight at T.M.E.A. Pt. 4

Tom Currie
Director of Bands, Alamo Heights Middle School

Tom teaches 350 middle school students that turn over at a rate of 130-140 per year. Every student has a subscription at home, and submits weekly assignments. He talks about:

Getting new students excited about playing music Beginners tracking music and contributing to the ensemble faster His computer, “Betsy” Gaining the support of the parents, “I showed it to them, and they were nuts about it” Using SmartMusic to take his already strong program to the next level He also mentions the funny things students say when they forget they’re being recorded.

Educator Spotlight at T.M.E.A. Pt. 3

Dr. Cynthia Gonzales
Associate Professor, Texas State University

Dr. Cynthia Gonzales briefly abandons her extensive vocal training for a humorous look at a SmartMusic sight-singing assessment. Dr. Gonzales also demonstrates how SmartMusic can develop ear training, harmonization, echo singing, and Solfege skills, all while producing data that shows massive individual improvement.

Educator Spotlight at T.M.E.A. Pt. 2

Dr. Giovanna Cruz

Orchestra Director, Bowie High School

As the sole Director at Bowie High School, Giovanna is responsible for juggling 4 large ensembles as well as 30 chamber groups each year. She has implemented SmartMusic to maintain the highest possible standards for her ensembles.

Educator Spotlight at T.M.E.A.

This video blog series started as an amazing SmartMusic clinic at T.M.E.A. in January. I cut the original hour long clinic into easily digestable segments that average five minutes in length. The series highlights a different educator each week for eight weeks, and includes demonstrations on how they use SmartMusic.