The SmartMusic Gradebook turns three!

It’s time for a Birthday Celebration! On April 11, 2007, MakeMusic simultaneously released the SmartMusic Gradebook and the idea of band and orchestra titles that include audio recordings of professional ensembles. Using SmartMusic to prepare the music your ensembles play at their concerts seems like such an obvious fit it’s hard to believe the idea was new just three years ago, but it’s true. That first release included just over 200 concert pieces: Today there are 2,344 concert pieces. That’s one big cake with a lot of candles!

As a teacher, I was impressed with how SmartMusic continually evolved with new functionality and content. I envisioned hundreds of people working on SmartMusic and Finale. When I first had the opportunity to visit the modest MakeMusic headquarters in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and walked through the doors, I was amazed at how quiet it was, and surprised to learn that the entire company is made up of just over 100 employees. (I had imagined a much bigger office building with a tremendous amount of bustle.) Still, I could sense that an incredible amount of work was being accomplished.

I’ve since met many of the people behind SmartMusic and Finale and it’s been great fun. While many share my background in music education, the company boasts a wide variety of musicians, many of whom continue to perform on a regular basis. Similarly the tasks they perform for MakeMusic vary greatly. For just a few examples you may wish to check out the video the repertoire development team made to explain their work to their coworkers.

Perhaps you have something you’d like to share with their coworkers as well. Here’s my tip for the best way to share ideas with the SmartMusic development team:

1. Log-in to the Gradebook
2. Near the top right of the screen, click on “Feedback.”

The resulting window allows you to type in your feedback about SmartMusic, the Gradebook, or other topics.

This, of course, is just one of many places where we receive customer comments. Our customer support staff shares what they hear from customers, as do folks like myself who meet people like you at tradeshows, in-services, and clinics. We also conduct surveys and field tests with teachers, students, and even non-musicians to gain insight into SmartMusic’s ease of use. It’s fascinating to see the incredible amount of “behind the scenes” work is involved in creating this software.

At this very moment, everyone is in high gear at MakeMusic working on the next version of SmartMusic. I’ve had the opportunity to get a few sneak peeks and you are in for a treat. I look forward to sharing the details with you in the coming weeks.

As I mentioned in my very first blog, I previously had a very enjoyable career as a music educator, which I took very seriously. It is incredible to me that I now work with the people and the company that created SmartMusic and who, like me, believe that SmartMusic is technology that can transform the way students practice and learn.

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