Since SmartMusic Studio was first introduced there has been a three way division within the music education community. First come music teachers that shun the idea of using such technology as being either too difficult or unnecessary. The second and most prominent group are teachers that have heard about the potential benefits of using SmartMusic but simply don't know where to start or are scared to take the plunge. On the high end of the spectrum is a small but growing consortium of band, orchestra, and choral directors that use SmartMusic in almost every aspect of their teaching and their programs are thriving because of it. The suggestions and tips shown below are a compilation of their knowledge that we can all benefit from.
Planning Ahead For SmartMusic Success
One consensus reached by all of the master teachers interviewed is that teachers that are new to SmartMusic can hurt their chances for success if they try to do too much too soon. Find at least one area of your program that you feel SmartMusic could be most helpful in and for the first semester or year of your implementation only focus on that one application. Whether that aspect is using SmartMusic as a surrogate pianist for your solos and small ensembles or whether it leans more towards simplifying the monotony of recording and listening to individual student playing exams; find something that will make your life as a teacher a bit easier. Once you are happy and comfortable with that part of SmartMusic expand your use to include it in other parts of your rehearsals or private lessons. The first year will always be the hardest, but resolve not to give up. When things finally start to click, celebrate and find ways to show off your student's use of the software to your supervisors and other faculty members. All the while continue to look for new ways to incorporate SmartMusic into your rehearsals .
Avoiding Problems Before They Occur
Once a person is familiar with SmartMusic they generally have very few problems. The only real trouble spots for new users often come during the installation and set up of the system. One significant suggestion was to avoid the use of the SmartMusic demos provided with the various beginner lesson books. The software on these discs is several years old, and the new 10.2 version that is available for download through SmartMusic is far superior and includes dozens of new features and stability enhancements that the student demo discs do not. If you have students that want to purchase a home subscription, you should contact MakeMusic and ask for them to send you additional copies of the current SmartMusic installation CD. When all else fails, call the SmartMusic support line and the problem will usually be solved quickly and easily.
Continue on to PART 2 of this article for specific tips.