Taking music education by storm

SmartMusic for smart kids. That’s what the SmartMusic App is all about.

Designed a few years ago by MakeMusic Inc., SmartMusic was developed to transform how music is composed, taught, learned, and performed. It is an award winning software that can be downloaded to your iPad, PC, and/or Mac.

Enabling students of all ages and skill levels in band, orchestra, or choir, SmartMusic has been gaining popularity with music teachers around the world.

In fact, SmartMusic has found its way into many local classrooms including those of Mrs. Emily Stover of the Princeton Elementary School District. She teaches kindergarten and 5th grade music as well as beginning band and choir. She uses the program as a teaching aide to encourage students to practice their instruments. SmartMusic provides students instant assessment of his/her performance by highlighting the correctly played notes in green and the incorrect notes in red. It also provides a recorded accompaniment to play along with making practice fun.

Mrs. Emily Stover has so graciously agreed to sit down with 815 Media to answer some of our questions:

815: Out of all the music technology out there, why SmartMusic?
SmartMusic is a cloud based program that provides recorded accompaniment and instant assessment for students, amateur, and professional musicians alike. Once the program is downloaded, the user has access to thousands of songs, from simple beginning band and recorder music, to well-known arias and concertos often performed by collegiate and professional musicians. Of all the music programs provided right now, it is the most comprehensive and user-friendly program available.

815: How do you use SmartMusic in the classroom?
I have been using SmartMusic in my music classes for 4 years now. I project the program for the class using a SmartBoard and play the songs, while the class follows along. I have used the program for 4th grade recorders, beginning band, intermediate bands, and Jr. High choirs. The students play or sing along with the music, as a green bar clicks along the screen to help the students follow the beat. I use it in choir to help teach sight-reading skills, but I mainly use it with the beginning band students to aid them in learning their new instruments.

Photo Credit: smartmusic.com

Photo Credit: smartmusic.com

815: What is one major benefit from the teacher’s perspective?
As mentioned previously, I have been using the program in my classrooms for about four years now, but last year I required all the beginning band students to purchase the program for at-home use. This is a benefit to me, as the students now have a teaching aid to work with at home, but it also allows me to send the students playing assignments. The program records the students playing their songs, and then they are submitted to me. I am then able to listen to each student’s recording and send him/her feedback on how he/she can improve. This provides me with recorded documentation on how the students play throughout the year, which is used to progress their improvement/decline, and can be played for parents to discuss the child’s progress in band.

815: What is one major benefit from the student’s perspective?
The students love it! They get to practice their instruments with a computer, it is almost like a game for them. They play the songs over and over again, until they see that coveted 100% assessment score. It makes practicing more fun, and they are held accountable for their practicing…Am I playing the correct notes? Am I playing them at the right time? Am I in tune? Those questions are answered by the program, so students learn how to read music faster, and have more fun doing it.

815: Have you seen improvement since you started using the program?
Yes, a lot. My first group of beginning band students who all had SmartMusic at home improved faster and sounded better at their first concert than any other group I have taught. I also have parents telling me that their child actually likes practicing! Students that consistently use the program at home progress faster and are able to fluently read music quicker than other students.

What about you? Do you use SmartMusic?