How I Use It
I have used SmartMusic as a formative and summative assessment tool for my secondary band students (6-12). The pre-created assignments for pieces are usually the measures that need the most work. If not, you can create custom assignments. It is a great tuner, metronome, sight-reading tool, rhythm practice tool, music listening tool, and overall practice tool. The accompaniment function for soloists can follow you but it takes some practice and experimentation with the following sensitivity level. I think the most issues we have with SmartMusic is due to our computers being old and sluggish. Students may create an account for free, however, if they want to practice and submit assignments at home, they must purchase a subscription. I do find that the students who aren't as tech savvy struggle with this program and need a little extra encouragement and coaching.
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 (2013-2014) SmartMusic had more server issues where they had to be offline and students couldn't access the library. Students used to be able to submit assignments from any computer that has a SmartMusic subscription but now they may only submit assignments on a computer designated as a "practice room" computer. If students want a subscription at home, they must purchase a subscription for every student in their household (there is a small discount for a second subscription). Overall, it is a great product that I will continue to use and I believe it is good for grades 5-12 and post-secondary even.