The Value of SmartMusic to the Music Educator

Value-of-SmartMusic-blog-post

Today’s classroom music educators are incredibly busy. They arrive before school and stay after to plan, rehearse their ensembles and help their students individually. They might teach six out of eight class periods, and even travel between different schools. They need to be able to reach every student, hear them play, provide feedback and track their progress. Additionally, classroom teachers need to demonstrate to parents and administrators that students are learning, and concerts alone are no longer enough.

Today’s students are fast paced and easily distractible. They’re also digital natives: it is as though they were born using cell phones, video games and computers! Teachers in all academic areas are tasked with designing activities and providing tools that meet these students where they live – in a digital world – and engaging those students in new ways.

What technology can music teachers use that satisfies the students’ need for interactivity and feedback?

To many, the answer is SmartMusic.

“In this age of technology, the kids immediately respond to this program. They get immediate feedback where they can SEE what they played wrong and they can record and hear themselves. It frees up a lot of class time.”
– Kimberly Farrell, Choir/Orchestra director, Miller Middle School, Durango, CO

“Students are really excited about learning music when SmartMusic is involved. It is one of the most engaging, efficient, and versatile music teaching tools out there.”
– Asa Burk, Director of Bands, Cross Timbers Middle School, Grapevine, TX

Immediate Feedback, Individualized and Differentiated Instruction

SmartMusic is interactive music learning software that provides students with immediate visual and aural feedback. It allows students to listen to their performance and see the correct and incorrect rhythms and pitches onscreen. Students are also able to hear their part in context with SmartMusic’s professional accompaniment, giving them pitch and rhythmic references when practicing at home.

Educators send assignments to individual students based on each student’s strengths and weaknesses, and can better guide each student – after reviewing their submitted assignments – with the customized feedback needed to get better faster.

“SmartMusic has enabled my students to engage in their own individual practice sessions in a more meaningful way!  They are given a wealth of feedback and have a tremendous amount of resources just at the click of a button.”
– Jared Cassedy, 2015 Music Educator Grammy Award Winner, Director of Bands and Director of K-12 Fine Arts, Windham School District, Windham, NH.

“Parents have commented to me that their children have never practiced so much in their lives!”
– Carrie Provost, Orchestra Teacher, Franklin Middle School, Wheaton, IL

Student Home Practice

We know that practice outside of the classroom is integral to success, but without an educator present, it’s easy for students to practice incorrectly. In addition to the immediate feedback SmartMusic provides, educators can extend their reach into home practice, by sharing carefully chosen assignments with students, and responding with feedback when those assignments are submitted.

Effective practice requires that students break challenging passages apart, slow them down, repeat them many times, then speed up gradually. With SmartMusic, educators can guide this type of practice remotely.

Like a flipped classroom model, SmartMusic allows students to work on technical concepts necessary for performance outside of class, at their own pace, with support materials, and then do the “homework” in class with the teacher. When the students come to the classroom already knowing how to play the notes, this frees the teacher to focus on the finer aspects of performance, including interpretation, dynamics, and musicality.

Streamlined Teacher Workflow

With the click of a few buttons, teachers can schedule assignments from any piece of repertoire to any and all of their students. Once students complete and submit these assignments, they automatically appear in the teachers’ Gradebook. In the Gradebook teachers can SEE the rhythms and pitches the student played or sang correctly or incorrectly, and HEAR a recording of the corresponding performance. With this information, teachers can quickly discover each student’s strengths and weaknesses, facilitating their instructional response and direction.

“The SmartMusic Gradebook keeps the process organized and allows me the flexibility to weight my review of a student’s recorded performance vs. SmartMusic’s built-in assessment.”
– Brent Comeau, Director of Bands, Woodbury High School, Woodbury, MN

“The opportunity to hear my choral students sing individually is a very useful assessment tool. I am getting to know my singers strengths and needs so I can build a better program.”
– Tina Harris, Choral Director, St. Francis High School, Sacramento, CA

What’s more, the email feature inside of SmartMusic allows teachers to easily communicate with parents about their students’ progress.

Extensive Library of Titles

SmartMusic contains the world’s largest digital library of assessable third-party ensemble titles. This means that the pieces that educators want to program for concerts are often already in SmartMusic, and they report that students sound better and advance faster when they prepare their concert pieces using SmartMusic as a practice tool.

“My students who consistently use SmartMusic, progress much quicker and they are enjoying practicing and performing with SmartMusic.”
– David Hall, Band Director, Santa Fe Christian Schools, Solana Beach, CA

“I also use SmartMusic as an outstanding tool for collaborative learning while we meet as entire ensembles.  Whether this is through the use of rhythm exercises or practicing jazz improvisation, the program motivates the students to work as cohesive unit!”
– Jared Cassedy, 2015 Music Educator Grammy Award Winner, Director of Bands and Director of K-12 Fine Arts, Windham School District, Windham, NH.

Detailed Documentation

The SmartMusic Gradebook provides teachers with a detailed record of their students’ assignments and the amount of time each student spent practicing, providing objective data to back up their grades. (Teachers can even upload rubrics to make their grading criteria-specific and meet State Music Standards.) Educators can instantly display – to students, parents and administrators – which notes were played or sung correctly or incorrectly, and play corresponding student recordings. This non-subjective data makes it easy to chart student growth.

For musicians, nothing shows progress better than the concerts that take place throughout the school year. For administrators, however, it is really useful and valuable to see, in numbers, how a student has grown in the field of music over a certain period of time.

“It is worth the time, energy, money, or anything else that it may take to get your students involved in using SmartMusic.”
– Ben Jones, Band Director, Fort Johnson Middle School, Charleston, SC

SmartMusic Value

SmartMusic engages students, and helps them improve faster. It streamlines educators’ workflow and allows them to offer more individualized instruction.  Administrators and parents can better track student progress with the objective data SmartMusic provides.

Sometimes technology is embraced for technology’s sake. In the case of SmartMusic, the technology not only meets students in the digital realm where they live, but it also extends the reach of an educator in ways not possible before.

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