SmartMusic on the iPad: finally ready for prime time
Last Thursday, MakeMusic released the latest version of SmartMusic for the iPad, which now lets students complete assignments on the iPad that are Finale-created. For the record, you still need to use Finale 2012 to generate a SMP file. If you buy Finale 2014 with the intent of creating SmartMusic files, I have been told that MakeMusic will include Finale 2012 so you can make those files. The ability to create SMP files will be coming to Finale 2014.
Additionally, SmartMusic on the iPad can also let students take assignments that are generated from an .mp3, as well as to complete assignments that are graded by a rubric (one of the new features of SmartMusic this year) rather than by a traditional score.
At this point, any teacher can create their own assessment files for students who have SmartMusic and iPads (whether personal subscriptions or practice room subscriptions), meaning that Choral music educators can now take advantage of SmartMusic on the iPad with individual students.
The SmartMusic app icon tells the student how many assignments they have to complete–yet another way to help students keep accountable to complete their assignments. When they log into SmartMusic, they will see an assignments tab on the bottom of the screen, which will take them directly to their assignments.
I have played a little with audio recording assignments (which might be a great solution for many choir directors who do not have experience with Finale), and if you use an instrumental mp3 (i.e. piano), the end result is good as you change tempos or published key. You set these parameters when you create an assignment. If you use a choral mp3, results vary. Speeding up or slowing down audio seems to work well–but changing the published key results in (understandbly) odd choral sounds. For this reason, I would suggest that choir directors use an instrumental accompaniment instead of a choral accompaniment for mp3 assignments.
If you can't find a particular option–such as having your part play along in a SMP file or traditional SmartMusic file–press the metronome button. The metronome button actually contains settings beyond “just” the metronome.
There are still a few features missing from the iPad version of SmartMusic. My band colleague reminds me that you cannot touch a note to see a fingering chart;
and there is no way to load your own SMPs or mp3 files into the iPad app without using a teacher account and making an assignment.
Note: A big thank-you to Steve Struhar, product manager of SmartMusic. You can save a mp3 or SMP file in a cloud based service (e.g. Google Drive, which is most likely for schools) and use the “Open In” function to open the file into SmartMusic. I did not know that SmartMusic had “Open In” functionality.
At any rate, SmartMusic for the iPad now has nearly all the tools you need (or more importantly, your students need) to successfully complete SmartMusic assignments on the iPad, whether on their own iPad (personally owned or 1:1) or as a “practice room subscription” on an iPad. The app has come a long way since its introduction last spring, and it will be exciting to see where it goes next.
SmartMusic and its logos, are, of course, are property of MakeMusic, Inc.