Saturday, August 6, 2011

SmartMusic in the Elementary General Music Classroom

SmartMusic, in case you don't know, is an interactive music software that is primarily used by band students (although I understand that the newest update includes sight singing exercises too). The student plays the music on the screen and receives immediate feed back about correct pitches and rhythms because those notes turn green. The ones that turn red were either the incorrect pitch or rhythm. It's really a fascinating program and very motivating to students.

I used SmartMusic in my classroom several years ago and then I stopped for several years. The reason I stopped was that I was creating all my own assessments and I simply didn't have the time to be doing it. Now SmartMusic has added assessments for soprano recorder. The assessments available are from a good recorder method called Recorder Express by Artie Almeida.

I like to use the program as a whole group activity. I project it onto the whiteboard and turn off the assessment feature. There is a cursor that tracks each beat so the kids stay together in the music. Since I am not needing to point to the music, I am able to watch students and help with hand position, fingerings, etc.

If you haven't seen SmartMusic in action, there are quite a few videos on You Tube. Here is a brief video of what the students see when we are using it as a whole-group activity (the sound quality isn't that great because of the combination of the laptop speakers and the video capture).

If time permits, I will also allow a couple of students try it with the assessment portion turned on. In my previous post, I discussed recording options. This is a nice way to record individuals playing recorder.

SmartMusic is fairly expensive. However, I don't need the gradebook function that our band director needs, so I just use the practice room/student edition which costs $36 per year. Students can also subscribe at home so that they can practice and make their own recordings.

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