Thinking about implementing SmartMusic into your program? Ongoing communication with parents can ensure they will help make it happen. Many directors have found that the best way to start this dialog is to host a SmartMusic information and demonstration event.
Parent SmartMusic Demonstration
Whether you schedule a special parent night or include a demonstration at a concert, be sure parents see students performing with SmartMusic. To help you with your planning, we offer free on-line demonstration materials including timelines, outlines and best practices.
I’d also recommend showing your parents our SmartMusic Parent Video. In four minutes they’ll see students and parents describing their experiences using SmartMusic at home. It’s important to note that SmartMusic helps the students understand what to do to get better even if their parents don’t have a music background. That can be very reassuring for parents.
“After I demonstrate what SmartMusic can do at a parent meeting, they ask, “Why wouldn’t you want to use this?” They are surprised to find out that the cost of SmartMusic is very reasonable. Parents who have played an instrument say that they want to pick up their instrument again because it looks like so much fun! When their child practices with SmartMusic, it is easier to hear both the mistakes and the progress that is being made. Parents who don’t know music feel like they have a better “handle” on what their kids are doing.”
– Sister Gail Buckman, Band Director, St. Gabriel’s Catholic School, St. Louis, MO.
Tell Parents How SmartMusic Will Be Used
Clearly communication doesn’t end at demonstration night. SmartMusic assignments represent a great opportunity to include parents in their student’ home practice. As you begin your implementation, tell your parents exactly how you plan to use SmartMusic to help their children practice and improve their music skills:
- What kind of assignments are required
- How are assignments graded
- What kind of feedback will you give to students and parents
- How do students and parents know how they are doing?
- What kind of home practice equipment and set up is required?
“Each parent-teacher or student-led conference, regardless of the student’s current level of performance, was a positive one. Why? Because SmartMusic provided the kind of data that teachers in other subjects only dream of having.
I accessed the student’s most recent playing assessment through SmartMusic’s Gradebook. I reviewed my written comments and help parents to interpret the familiar screen shot of red and green notes from that assessment. We listened to the audio recording, which seems to be the highlight of my conferences. Parents enjoy hearing their child play… This is far different from the years before SmartMusic when I could only discuss (without evidence) how a child was performing on their instrument.”
– Don Long, Director of Bands and Department Chair, Fire Prairie Middle School, Independence, MO
Even More Communication
Recently, as part of one school’s year-end activities, teachers and parents were given a survey about the school year. One of the questions was how well the teachers communicated with parents. Teachers rated themselves at 7 out of 10, but the parents rated the teachers 3 out of 10.
The SmartMusic Gradebook offers several ways to enhance communicate with parents, by:
- Sharing SmartMusic scores and recordings.
- Reassigning work to students with a mouse click.
- Easily sending personal notes to students and parents.
- Helping students learn music in a thoughtful and transparent process.
“I provide a comment for every single exercise that a student submits. The parents appreciate this and it has helped in developing open communication with them. Parent/teacher conferences are relaxed. With the e-mail button, I can easily share the successes of students with their parents. The parents feel much more a part of their child’s music education. With the documentation that SmartMusic provides, parents are making their kids’ practicing a priority.
I have an entire folder of positive quotes from parents regarding SmartMusic. You can’t beat that. I also create a portfolio of each student’s work over three years. Imagine that!”
– Martha Boonshaft, Band Director, Garden City Middle School, Garden City, NY
Communicate by Sharing Music
It’s easy for busy music teachers to get so wrapped up in concerts, testing, grading and documenting student progress that sometimes we forget that our students (and parents) signed up for our music classes to enjoy making music.
We can encourage students to use SmartMusic to share their music with friends and family by picking out music they love making recordings:
- Any music that is recorded in SmartMusic can be saved as an MP3 and shared with others.
- In addition to recording fun music, SmartMusic can also be used in auditions and to create archive portfolios
“Using SmartMusic to create a Holiday CD for parents using is a project I have used for many years. I am currently doing this project with my 6th grade string players. If you don’t wish to create a holiday CD, you could use this template for other projects such as a portfolio of your students’ progress.
Since the students choose the songs, they work really hard on them and we make it a goal to record at least one song per week in their lesson.
– Jim Schulz, Instrumental Music – Strings, Lincoln Public Schools, Lincoln, NE
When you’re doing everything you can do to keep your music program improving, it can sometimes be easy to forget that your students’ parents will not know anything about SmartMusic unless you show them. They won’t know about all of your great plans and intentions unless you tell them and you make sure that they know how this can benefit their children. Take the time to plan an event and inform your parents, and continue to communicate all of the good things that their children are experiencing in your music program, and they will become your greatest supporters.