Website review by Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2021

SmartMusic

Music practice tool's flexible features need fine-tuning

Learning rating
Community rating
Based on 7 reviews
Privacy rating
63%| Warning Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Grades
5–12
Subjects & Skills
Arts, Character & SEL, Critical Thinking

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Pros: Customizable built-in exercises make it easy for teachers to assign and assess student work, and (mostly) instant feedback helps students see their real-time progress.

Cons: There's limited information to support students' developing music knowledge, and factors like microphone placement can throw off scoring accuracy.

Bottom Line: With good support from a music teacher -- and a good microphone setup -- this is a cool tool for supporting (but not taking over) practice time.

Teachers can select and assign musical pieces from within SmartMusic, making sure to include instructions and a deadline. Teachers can also assign points to SmartMusic's assessment score/recording evaluation and listen to and evaluate students' performances. The tool offers playing input from both SmartMusic and teachers, who can monitor students' progress over time.

One thing teachers should be mindful of is the role that recording equipment can play in accurate scoring. The feedback students get on performances can vary depending on the quality of their microphone. This is why it's best to reinforce SmartMusic use with in-person, face-to-face performance and feedback.

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SmartMusic is a web-based music practice tool. It features built-in musical scores and exercises that students can access solo or through an assignment from their teachers. Music educators can use SmartMusic to assign practice material and monitor progress, and they can customize exercises to highlight key skills or drill tricky passages. Built-in features like a tuner and a demo function help students prepare, and once they start playing, they can get instant feedback. Correct pitches and rhythms are highlighted in green; incorrect ones appear in red.

Vocalists as well as woodwind, brass, percussion, and string instrument players can practice with accompaniment, and they can also record each take with an external or computer-based microphone and save it in the system or as an MP3 file on their computer. SmartMusic users can search for music by category and skill level, and they can choose from more than 50 instruments ranging from the guitar to the xylophone. Teachers can use their dashboard to manage student groups, monitor student progress, create and send assignments, provide personalized instruction, choose different grading methods, record grades, and send email reminders. 

There's a ton to like in SmartMusic. Teachers can search for songs or songbooks to use in person that cut across a wide range of styles and instruments. The mixture of printable and interactive pieces supports different types of classrooms. Teachers can create sight-reading exercises to help students prepare for sight-reading contests and exams, or create custom exercises with specific rhythms or intervals to help students drill and practice passages from pieces they're working on in class or in private lessons. The dashboard helps teachers track and assess student progress. However, SmartMusic can't be a replacement for direct, face-to-face instruction and feedback, especially given how finicky it can be about a student's recording setup.

Keep in mind that registration and setup can be a little confusing, and, frankly, it would be a lot easier if teachers had more control over creating their virtual classroom and student accounts. As it is, creating classes and accounts can be cumbersome: You have to select your school from a list, and then you generate a class code to share with students, who then have to add themselves to your class on their own. Kids under 13 who try to register on the site are told that a parent or guardian should contact customer support to sign them up.

Overall Rating

Engagement

Once they configure the microphone on their device, students can start playing right away, getting (almost) instant feedback on accurate notes and rhythms.

Pedagogy

Built-in practice exercises help students hone sight-reading skills and drill tricky passages. Students can search by skill level for a more personalized experience. Teachers can customize exercises and monitor progress. 

Support

Videos and how-to docs help teachers make the most of it, but there's not much to help students navigate features or learn more. Not all activities include assessments. There are customizable rubrics and colorblind support.


Common Sense reviewer
Patricia Monticello Kievlan Foundation/nonprofit member

Community Rating

(See all 7 reviews) (7 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Andrew R. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Edina Public Schools
Edina, United States
Great practice tool for personalized learning and differentiated instruction (Grades 5-12+).
When students practice with SmartMusic on a band piece, they are hearing all the parts, in tune, with good tone, correct rhythm, good articulation, good technique, good balance and blend, and good musicianship as if they were rehearsing with a collegiate or professional group. When grading, I always tell my students that I give the final grade because SmartMusic can only grade correct notes and correct rhythms and even then, it isn't always a true representation of a student's performance. This year ( ...
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Data Safety
How safe is this product?
Users can interact with trusted users and/or students.
Personal information is displayed publicly.
User-created content is not filtered for personal information before being made publicly visible.
Data Rights
What rights do I have to the data?
Users can create or upload content.
Processes to access and review user data are available.
Processes to modify inaccurate data are available.
Ads & Tracking
Are there advertisements or tracking?
Data are not shared for third-party advertising and/or marketing.
Traditional or contextual advertisements are displayed.
Behavioral or targeted advertising is displayed.

Continue reading about this tool's privacy practices, including data collection, sharing, and security.

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