SmartMusic and Going for the Green

Today’s post doesn’t relate to Ireland, golf, or environmental consciousness. It’s about the green color that SmartMusic’s assessment feature uses to indicate correctly played notes.

Teachers new to SmartMusic assessments might ask: “Should students be assessed right away for a grade?” Personally, I believe a “breaking-in” period can ease the transition, especially when SmartMusic is being used for the first time. Today I’d like to share an idea I used with my beginning students to develop an understanding of assessment before tying it to a grade.

After we had worked on some of the first lines in their method book, I assigned one of those lines to the students using the Gradebook. I chose a line that the students should be successful performing and would demonstrate their understanding of what was being taught in class. Using SmartMusic, the students completed the assignment and submitted it to the Gradebook.

I also distributed a handout I made called “Going for the Green,” which asked a few simple questions like: How many green notes did you get? How many red notes? Then I met with each student individually. In addition to discussing the tone quality and articulation of their recording, we compared it to their assessment and discussed why the notes were green and red, and added this information to their handouts. Specifically, in the case of red notes, they were to indicate what they had to do to make them green next time.

Using the audio and visual feedback that SmartMusic provides, the students were creating an individualized corrective action plan. This activity helped students learn to interpret the SmartMusic assessment, and as a result they became more self-reliant in evaluating themselves. While we all recognize this as skill we would like all of our students to possess, it can also make your teaching time much more efficient. Similar approaches can be used with all students based on their age level.

SmartMusic can provide a grade with the assessment, and this is helpful today. But the real benefit is helping students learn to improve their own playing through self-assessment. This is a benefit they can enjoy for a lifetime.

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