Smart Music: discussion, accompaniments needed

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Home Forums Pedagogy Teaching – General: Solutions, Question, Tips Smart Music: discussion, accompaniments needed

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    Lynne Mangan Flegg


    I use the Smart Music program as one component of my teaching studio. I mostly use it for accompaniments to solos. For example, if I have a student working on a solo piece, I will have them prepare the work, then study the score, and then play their part with the Smart Music playing the piano parts so they understand how the different voices fit together. This makes it much easier for a student to play well once they sit down with a professional accompanist. (I never use Smart Music in lieu of a live pianist for performances).

    Smart Music has several of the main oboe solo books in their files, and a few of our major solos. However, they are missing many key solos that I use in my studio. In particular, I’m looking for the Corelli-Barbirolli Concerto in F major (published by B&H). I’m wondering if anyone has a copy of this in Finale, or as an audio file. These can be imported into Smart Music easily.

    I know I could scan the part into Finale and fix it up myself… but that would take hours. I’m hoping someone else may have done this already, so I don’t have to re-invent the wheel!

    If you have any other Smart Music files to share, I’d love to check them out.

    I’d also love to hear from other teachers who use Smart Music. What features to you use? What do you find most helpful?

    I’m starting to use the program for exercises and drills in lessons, and realize there is a lot of interesting features I could be using. It seems that a lot of students really take to the idea of playing their exercises into a computer, having it rate their accuracy, and then emailing the teacher a progress report… I haven’t tried this yet. This makes some “boring” scale assignments seem a little more like a video game, I guess :) I’ve been a little hesitant to use this a lot, as I don’t want kids playing with the computer instead of playing their arpeggios! Any advice and suggestions is much appreciated.

    Thank you,
    Lynne Marie Flegg

    Lynne Mangan Flegg

    Oops – I just realized there are actually two pieces I’m looking to use in Smart Music:

    Corelli-Barbirolli concerto in F for oboe (arr. for piano by Boosey & Hawkes)
    Telemann Sonata in a minor for oboe (arr. for piano by various publishers.)

    Lynne Marie Flegg

    Lynne Mangan Flegg

    I thought I’d bump this topic back up to see if anyone out there is using SmartMusic (formerly Vivace) as a tool in their oboe or bassoon studio. I’ve found that it can be an excellent tool to help students study how the solo they are playing with fits in with the accompaniment, so they are confident when they work with a human accompanist.

    There also are many wonderful exercises and tools in the system, some of which I’ve used (for example: scales, arpeggios, and tuning). Right now, I use these occasionally during lessons, but I don’t assign SmartMusic homework. I’m considering adding SmartMusic homework assignments for some students.

    If there is anyone who is using SmartMusic in their studio, I’d love to hear how you use it, and the advantages and disadvantages of the system.

    Teachers can assign SmartMusic exercises such as scale and arpeggio tests, performing exercises or a piece to a particular tempo, etcetera. The students can be assigned to use their SmartMusic license (heavily discounted for your students) to record their results, using the computer. The system will then email the teacher their results.

    Other non-doublereed teachers have found benefits such as:

    1. Students enjoy the computer interface. It makes some of the more mundane assignments, like scales and arpeggios, a little more like a video game. It is fun – kids and techie adults love to use the system.

    2. It can really help students learn to improve ear training skills, including hearing intervals and intonation.

    3. Having a multiphonic accompaniment can be a little more exciting than just practicing with a metronome alone. (I’d require students to first work with metronome alone first on solo assignments, gradually building to the goal tempo. After reaching goal tempo with the metronome, they’d then work with the SM accompaniment slowly, gradually increasing to goal tempo.)

    4. Students learn they can’t stop-and-start so much when they are “performing” their music.

    However, I have a few concerns:

    1. While you get the benefit of making an assignment a little more like a game, students might end up playing with the computer as much as they actually play their instrument. I don’t want to see actual practice time decrease!

    2. The teacher needs to spend part of the lesson planning time setting up the tests, and part of the pre-lesson prep time reviewing the recorded results. I’m wondering if this will make more work for me in the long run.

    3. If students have technical issues, providing SmartMusic tech support will also eat into my lesson planning time.

    If you’ve used SmartMusic in any capacity, please let us know what you think of the program.

    Lynne Marie Flegg

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