How songs get into SmartMusic


SmartMusic is best known for its use in the schools of the United States and Canada however there are thousands of musicians around the world who also see the benefit of using SmartMusic as part of their teaching and practicing. Using SmartMusic to guide what a student practices at home is a new way to teach music. The ability to send playing assignments to students through SmartMusic (now available worldwide) means any teacher in the world can now provide regular feedback to students at any time between their normal music lessons.

Few music educators know this better than Peter Lodenkemper, the brass teacher at the Altstadt-Musikzentrum-Essen, a music school in the city of Essen, found in the Nordrhein-Westfalen state in Germany, as well as the music teacher at a public school in Hattigen, a smaller town about 25 kilometers from Essen. MakeMusic employee, Travis Shepard, spoke with Peter about his experience using SmartMusic as an educator and how it has changed with the ability to send assignments.

Travis Shepard: How old are the students that you teach?
Peter Lodenkemper: I teach children starting at about eight years old up to adults who can be 45 or 50.

TS: How long have you been using SmartMusic as part of your teaching?
PL: I have had SmartMusic for about four years, and I use it in different ways. For young students, I add SmartMusic to using their paper method book in lessons. The adults, they just use SmartMusic on its own…I don’t add something more than SmartMusic because most of the adults are beginners.

TS: So, for your adult students SmartMusic is all that you use? You don’t have them buy any paper books at all?
PL: Right, right. SmartMusic has the etudes, method books, and exercises that I use. The play-by-ear and sight-reading tools are also very good. So everything my students need, SmartMusic has it.

TS: Why did you choose to start using SmartMusic as part of your teaching?
PL: I think the way of teaching with SmartMusic is a little bit different than the old way of teaching, you know? It’s a question of flexibility, time flexibility, time sharing, you know? Especially the adults, they need a lot of time. They need flexible time schedules. They play their assignment on Sundays, for example, and send them to me before their next lesson.

TS: What kind of SmartMusic assignments do you give to your students?
PL: Well, I try to send a variety of assignments. The first assignments are mostly from the method books. For example, Measures of Success or Essential Elements or something like that. So I try to add then some warm-ups, for example, from the Foundations for Superior Performance or from Rubank and so on.

TS: And how would you say that your students react to using SmartMusic?
PL: Well, the young students are mostly surprised. They said, “Oh wow, it’s possible. I can’t believe this!” But also the adults, they are really surprised most of the time. They say, “Oh, I can’t imagine that it’s possible to send my assignments to you, to play at the time I want!” and something like that, you know? So they are really surprised mostly.

TS: What do you want to do with SmartMusic in the future?
PL: I think I will try to have a holiday internet workshop with my SmartMusic attendees and with my SmartMusic students and meet each other, for example, three times in two weeks or so. Between meetings I will give them SmartMusic assignments, the students will play the music and send the recordings to me, I will listen to the recordings and give feedback to them, they will send them to me again and so on.

TS: Right, so you could prepare for a concert that way and only have to meet in person a couple of times. You are guiding the students’ home practice because SmartMusic assignments send recordings back and forth so easily, is that right?
PL: Yes, that’s right. And then giving some assignments with sight-reading tools or contests in scales, contests in play-by-ear exercises and something like that. I think that’s great and that’s really new. That’s really new. In Germany it’s a really new way to teach music.

Being able to provide immediate feedback to students is critical to their musical success. It’s great to see educators utilizing this in their teaching. And Peter is a great example of a creative teacher using SmartMusic to keep his students engaged in learning music.

How are you using SmartMusic? Share your ideas with us!

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