SmartMusic: Is it called Impact or Gradebook? Why use it?

When the SmartMusic Gradebook was released in 2007 it was initially called SmartMusic Impact, presumably because of the positive “impact” it would have on your teaching. Despite being a very active SmartMusic user, I wasn’t initially convinced.

At the time, my students were using SmartMusic to access and record assignments I gave them from method books and from files I created with Finale. Students who had SmartMusic at home would email me their results, and I would save the results of the students who used school computers to do their assignments. It was incredible having all this feedback to help students! The little issues that came up didn’t really bother me.

For example, as soon as students starting sending in recordings, my school email account produced a warning: “In order for you to send or receive mail, you must clean out your mailbox.” OK…No problem! With my principal’s permission, I created a personal email address for this purpose, which required me to save student files at home onto a thumb drive that I would bring to school. I created folders for each class as well as folders for each assignment. I thought the whole process was pretty cool and worth the effort!

Then in April 2007 SmartMusic Impact was announced. It was described as a grade book of sorts. Assignments could be tracked and it had some other features. At that time I thought: “I’m busy right now. I’m already using our school’s online grade book. I have student recordings and assessments on my computer. I’m not too sure about this.”  In time, however, curiosity got the best of me. I decided to give it a test run.

I selected a couple students to try it out with me. I set up my Impact account and gave these students the directions provided by SmartMusic to enroll in a class. I wanted to see if they could follow the process on their own without my help, and they did. After that was completed, I created my first assignment and reviewed the procedure with the students. Okay, let’s see what happens!

I remember checking the Impact grade book the first time. The icon for a recording was now green instead of black and the assessment already had a grade. I clicked on the green icon and a window opened. In an instant, the power of Impact was apparent. The recording of the student started to play. I clicked on the assessment graphic and there was the screenshot of the assessment. There was a place for me to write personalized comments regarding the student’s performance. The assessment, recording and comments could be reviewed by the student (and parents) by logging in at the Impact site from home!

Furthermore, I would have assessments and recordings of all students in one place with better organization: I could easily track the progress of individual students. No special email address, no special folders…goodbye thumb drive! Plus all of this was being stored (and backed up) on MakeMusic’s secure servers! I was “sold”: Using Impact helped me track and document student progress in ways that had a positive effect on my teaching strategies.

Two and a half years later, SmartMusic and Gradebook keep on improving mainly due to the input from teachers who use it. Yes, I found out “THEY” do listen.

If you have not taken the plunge and tried out Gradebook, I highly encourage you to do so. After you login the first time to Gradebook, you are guided through a few steps to setup your account. You can be up and running in about 10 minutes. My tip is to have your school’s calendar handy when you set up Gradebook as it makes it easy to specify your exact grading periods. If you have any questions there are even QuickStart Videos at that can help you get started.

All the best,


PS: Don’t forget that a home subscription is not required. Any student can enroll, practice, and submit assignments from a SmartMusic-equipped computer at school without buying a thing.

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