Thursday, August 5, 2010

New SmartMusic (Is it 2011 already?)

Good news.  SmartMusic 2011 is out!

This is a major update.  So if you are an old hand at SmartMusic and use it at school, you may want to get this before school starts!

You can download it at .

The big improvement with this version is the new "look" or interface.  Previous versions of SmartMusic gave you the feeling that you were working in two or three different programs.  You got your assignment on one page and then went to the player/recorder that had a whole different look to do the actual work.  The new version has a more unified feel, more like a well-done web site.  Features and tools are easier to find and use.  A lot of time and thought went into this new version.

There is no longer a choice about play and now just start a "Take." Each take is saved until you hit "Done" and leave the project.  It is much easier to review takes.  You can mark takes to be saved so when you log out and log in again, the "keepers" are still there.  This makes it far easier to find your previous work than previous versions of SmartMusic.  Changing the transport/recording controls will eliminate some of the problems my kids were running into with hitting the wrong button.  Now it is all recorded and easy to find.

You are never too far away from the tuner or the looping tools.  Wow!  These tools were available in SmartMusic before, but you had to jump through a bazillion screens to get there.

Previously, I didn't spend a lot of time teaching kids how to set-up loops for practicing the hard parts.  Now, with that feature front and center, I had better!  This is a very useful feature that has been made much easier to find.  On the longer pieces, students will be working more efficiently by working on the things that need work... Not working on the whole piece to figure out a few problem measures.

The tuner seems easier to read.  Is it bigger?  You still get the old "match the needle" or the "linear" looks to the tuners.  Did you ever wish your kids could spend some extended time with a tuner?  Now everyone can have one.

This is a major update... not just MakeMusic changing the date and saying that there is an update.

Expect the new look to help your students. I am.   I was going to put in a few screen shots, but running SmartMusic and taking them doesn't work on my computer set-up.  I would normally be very concerned about how I am going to do hand-outs for my students, but I know that I will be showing the videos from the SmartMusic web site in class and I am sure MakeMusic will be doing their usual excellent supporting materials to go with the program.  Not to worry.

I have just started scratching the surface of the SmartMusic Grade Book.  Most of the big improvements I've discovered so far are on the student-performer side.  I think the ability to send EXACTLY the assignment you want your students to do is the magic of the grade book.  If you are using SmartMusic with students, I would recommend you do the educator package so you can take advantage of the ability to use the web to send and receive assignments.  SmartMusic and the Grade Book are subscription based programs, so make it part of your yearly budget.  I wouldn't skimp on the Grade Book; it makes life so much easier.

I really am excited about the possibilities this fall with the new SmartMusic 2011!  If you aren't a user, maybe you should take a look.

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