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SmartMusic and your experiences? Anyone?!

SmartMusic Education

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#1 Tori_flute

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 21:38

Hi,

 

We have been trialling SmartMusic at the school I work at for the past academic year and I was wondering what other people think of it. If there is anyone! 

 

 

 


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#2 RoseRodent

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 21:54

No, but I'd be interested to know if you have had to pay the full rate to trial it. I think a product of this nature does not exactly lend itself to mass sales if it doesn't give any trial period at all to check that it works as described. Anything from 7 days to 30 days  would give people a chance to decide if it's a valuable tool. What are your experiences? 


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#3 Banjogirl

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 22:02

I couldn't buy anything with a capital letter in the middle. Why does 'education' stuff always fall for every passing whim?


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#4 allegretto

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Posted 16 May 2014 - 09:16

I use it for my own playing (and am planning to use it on a limited basis with students), and find it useful as I don't have regular access to an accompanist. Obviously it's not the same as the real thing, as it doesn't respond in a 'human' way, but I think it's better than simply using a recorded accompaniment as you can customise it a bit, changing the speed (I know Speedshifter does this too), telling it which notes to 'wait' for, whether to repeat sections etc. Sometimes I inevitably feel like I'm trying to keep up with it though, which can be frustrating.

 

I like the library of pieces with the score on the screen as 'fun' sightreading - especially the ones with orchestra or jazz band accompaniment, though I have mixed feelings about its use of harpsichord for everything Baroque. It's nice to hear what that would sound like, but a piano option would be good (my access to real life harpsichord players is even more limited!)

 

I'm not totally convinced of the value of the ones where it 'marks' you on how accurately you've played according to the score - this seems a bit gimmicky to me.

 

The recordings it produced aren't brilliant (though that might be my microphone) but reasonable enough for listening back to assess yourself.

 

However, I had tried it out via someone else first, before paying for it myself - I'm not sure I'd have paid for it without having an idea of the functionality and the available repertoire.


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#5 Tori_flute

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Posted 16 May 2014 - 10:57

For our trial the students had to pay a yearly subscription fee themselves and the school paid for whatever it needs. For the trial period, only a few students offered to be guinea pigs.

I work at an international school so the format of class music is different from regular schools in that music class is band (or choir). So in elementary school we work from the book, Standard of Excellence, so the students using SmartMusic can be assigned exercises from the book and the student has to practise then when they have a percentage they are happy with they can submit that 'take' to the class teacher. Now this is where is gets frustrating.... 

 

One of my students (10yo Clarinet player for 2 years) gets so frustrated trying to get 100% on everything that she becomes close to tears each time we try. I, as a human being know that for an 10 year old she played it pretty well, but when SmartMusic comes back with a percentage like 60% and she really doesn't know why!

Another student who I have, also a clarinet player, for nearly a year, she is tiny, the clarinet is bigger than she is! She will play the piece well, but a tad flat, though this has now improved with a harder reed and some embouchure exercises, initially, SmartMusic would pick it up that she played all the wrong notes and give her a very low percentage.

Now, a third student of mine using it, a flautist for 1 year, she manages alright. But the other day I decided I'd give it a shot and see what percentage I would get... I played it exactly as written, even came back with all the notes green which means you played everything right, but the percentage it gives me is 75%?!! The student has a try, doesn't play it very well and SmartMusic comes back with 78%!!!! I try again at home, with complete silence around me, it comes back with just over 80%, but still showing I played all the right notes. The only instruction was forte at the beginning and nothing else, no accents or anything, just f. So that's me, with a degree in flute performance, teaching for nearly 9 years, playing for several more only getting 80% from SmartMusic. What hope have the students got?! Next year the band teacher wants to make it compulsory for all band students.

 

Also, there seems to be a glitch in it somewhere so it keeps submitting assignments with 0% to the teacher before she's even had a chance to play them and way before the due date.


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#6 RoseRodent

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Posted 16 May 2014 - 12:40

Did you buy the microphones and everything too? The very, very small print tells you that it doens't work with any other microphones and not to forget to buy one of these too. So that's $19.95 extra and then it needs shipping from goodness knows where. 

 

It sounds like it doesn't tell you what you did wrong, so what is the value of the percentage scores? ((Except to provide schools with something to plug into a system which asks for scores) Sure, if it said "You have 60% because: 

The rhythm in bar 2 did not match

THe highlighted notes were incorrectly pitched

You did not play loudly in bar 10" then you'd have something useful to build on. The total frustration of playing and getting a number back and then playing again and randomly striving for a higher number... No thanks. 


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#7 Tori_flute

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 14:59

No, either using iPad microphone or one student has started using a microphone she already had, waiting for her to report back!

 

I completely agree though, if it comes back with everything in green yet only gives 80% it should definitely give pointers as to where improvements need to be made otherwise it seems a bit pointless to me except for maybe that it proves to the class teacher that the student has taken their instrument out at home!


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