Wednesday, November 20, 2013

SmartMusic Everywhere-- Tips For Enrollment

There is more than one way to get SmartMusic.  We go with the school volume purchase plan at our school.  There is also more than one way to activate your student accounts.  I like to have kids do all this themselves, but you could activate their accounts for them (I may be the World's Worst Typist, so, NOT IT!)

After living with our SmartMusic roll-out for a couple of days, I think the easiest approach to activating an account is to start with your favorite browser, point it to and follow the "Redeem a Code" button.

There you will be asked to select a new account or existing account.

In classes with beginners, you talk your way through the process as new account members.  There will be a lot of questions to answer and at the end there will be a place to put in your code.

In the older classes, walk them through the existing customer route.  There will be fewer questions to answer and at the end, there is a place to put in your code.

After the code is used to activate the account, try the program.  If you used the browser to get in to activate the code, you need to start SmartMusic and login.  Login as an "Existing Customer" because once you have an account activated with a code, you are an existing customer.  (That may seem obvious to you, but with younger kids...)

This changing from the browser to SmartMusic may be where most of my kid problems are.  But, if you make them aware that you cannot do anything other than redeem the code and you have to switch to a SmartMusic app or program to do the work, the kids seem to get it.  I tell kids that you need to quit the browser and test your login in SmartMusic.

When they get into SmartMusic, those of you using the educator subscription need to have the kids "Enroll" for your class.  There is a clearly marked area for classes and a button there to enroll on the home page.  Older students may be asked to update their information as well.

My first SmartMusic Assignment this year had nothing to do with playing notes into SmartMusic.  Instead, I told kids there were going to get a grade for enrolling in class.  That did make for a flurry of activity on the deadline day, but I think that beats having problems trickle in.

I also had a couple of my very helpful older students in the practice room area (we have 5 stations for SmartMusic there) to trouble shoot for kids that were having problems.  Gave them a chance to be helpful and sped things up for the people who needed help.  I may be have a couple of future teachers here!

Last year the process for SmartMusic was install, activate and enroll for class; all done in SmartMusic.  This year the process is more like activate/renew your account and open SmartMusic (install it if you need to.)  This new approach seems more natural and easier to follow.

I know they have taken some heat for the new pricing plans, but there is something there when SmartMusic talks about the advantages for the end users when they license users and not devices.  Not having to activate the software on the end use machine is easier.  (And there is the iPad app and the ability to install SmartMusic in more than one place.....)

All of this is pretty easy to show with a IWB or projector in class and worth the time to do that.

So browser to activate the account, SmartMusic to test the login and enroll for class.  That's it in a nutshell.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Changes in SmartMusic Subscriptions and Our SmartMusic Everywhere Plan

Last March, this pricing policy went into effect:

"School Practice Room subscription – the new price is $44 per year with no per-student fee. This subscription allows students’ access to SmartMusic on a school-owned device (computer or iPad).

And, as previously announced the pricing for Educator and Student subscriptions are as follows:

• Educator subscription – the price will remain at $140 per year with the added benefit of using your subscription on multiple devices at school or home.

• Student subscription – the new price is $40 per year with the added benefit of using a subscription on multiple devices at school or home, including the SmartMusic iPad version."    

If you are a band student and have an internet connected computer, we want you to have access to SmartMusic.  We think of it as a SmartMusic Everywhere plan for our students.  If you have problems with the computer/internet part of this, we have your back with practice rooms equipped with SmartMusic stations.

We cover the costs with our band fee.  If you have a home computer, you have access there paid for by your fee.  If you don't have a computer, you are helping to pay for our stations.

Overall, I would say we have been successful.  Our kids' practice is certainly more productive.  I can hear individuals and evaluate their playing.  Parents have evidence of their child's progress.  SmartMusic has been good for everyone in the program.

What has changed with the new pricing?  Not much as far as costs.  We came out about the same.  A little higher, but about the same.

There are some things that are different because of the way things are structured access-wise.  We were used to the per computer model, which is pretty hard to coordinate with families.  Do you have a computer?  Is it connected to the internet?  Can it run SmartMusic?  Throw brothers and sisters sharing a computer in the mix and YIKES.  How many do I order???

You can still run your program with just the practice rooms.  Fairly inexpensively too.

There are some downsides to a practice room only format.

Do you have the real-estate and computers to pull it off well?  There are days around here where there are kids 2 and 3 deep for our 5 stations.  That means a late afternoon for me at my school.

Your practice room login information will not let you login anywhere but the practice room until you have an active (paid for) account.  After that, you can login pretty much anywhere.  This may be the big change on our end.  Our students were able to use any device that had a paid-for subscription.  Now it is the user that needs to be paid for.  License users not machines.

We have found that the more kids use SmartMusic the better they get.  There is lots of time when our building isn't open for kids.  Having SmartMusic at home is a good thing.  I like going home.  I was a little nervous about the changes, but they really haven't been too bad.  Hopefully, the year goes well in this department.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Finally Getting Things Out The Door with SmartMusic

SmartMusic is going out the door to all my students this week and the uniform T-shirts we use for uniforms on the middle schoolers are on their way.

Pricing seems to be the big news item from SmartMusic this year.  It appears that SmartMusic is covering their costs by moving towards a per user model as opposed to a per computer model.  That may be a more fair way of pricing things... the number of users in the server space on their end is a cost driver for SmartMusic, not the number of computers with SmartMusic installed on the other end.

We do save some money by doing a volume purchase order, but we used to save even more by not needing to pay for the second (third, fourth..) sibling on shared home computers.

I suppose we could save time by changing our model to a "we will fund only the practice rooms and if that is not convenient for you, you may buy SmartMusic yourself model."  But 6 stations and 250+ kids doesn't seem like a great idea.  It could be a before/after school supervision nightmare. A guy might never get to go home.

So EASY ACCESS to SmartMusic is a good thing.

The other good thing, the code system of paying for SmartMusic has been remodeled.  Go to and put in your code.  One of my beginners reported no problems with getting the program installed and registering for class was "easy."  She also was wondering why there weren't any assignments yet.  I guess I better close out and post an assignment!