Tuesday, September 4, 2007
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Now I'm not interested in writing an article promoting the Smart Music program. There are plenty of representatives out there that can tell you the ins and outs much better than I ever could. What I would like to do is write about how the two teaching tools combined have been a great benefit to me this past year.
The first time I saw a Smart Board used was in the Rosebud band room in Rosebud, Arkansas. The band director there, Steve Holder, used it mainly in his music survey class. Using power point presentations, he displayed his class notes onto the Smart Board for students to see. A Smart Board is a white screen that is approximately 5 feet wide and 4 feet tall mounted on a wall with a projector that is hooked up to a computer to project the image onto the screen. The board also acts as a touch sensitive mouse and also has four different colored markers that make the board act just like a dry erase board.
I hooked the computer up to a better sound system than the beefed up computer speakers that came with the Smart Board. And since Smart Music used a microphone, I hooked it up to a microphone amp and mounted condenser microphones on the ceiling.
There were a few ways that I used the Smart Music program with the Smart Board that were a great benefit in my classes. For my beginner band class, I could open up the method book that we used in class and click on the line we were working on. The line would pop up for any instrument I chose and we could talk about it right there in front of them with me pointing to exactly what I was talking about, instead of having to wait while each student followed my instructions while looking at his own book to find the right line, right measure, and right count. If students had questions about how to finger the note or the name of the pitch, I could just simply touch the note on the Smart Board and the name of the pitch and fingering would pop up. When we were ready to play the line, Smart Music could play an accompaniment along with the band, play the line using a piano sound, or any combination of the two. You can also have a cursor go along as you play so the students can follow along on the board as they play. If the assessment function was turned on, the program would green up the note heads that were heard correctly and put red note heads where wrong pitches were heard. Now, if this were done with the whole class, it would look like a big mess, but doing it individually worked pretty well. We could also record what the band, or an individual, played and let the students get instant feedback on how they really sounded.
In the more advanced classes, there is also a great chromatic tuner that gives an instant response to any pitch that is played. It will also play back the pitch in tune while showing the student his pitch in relationship to the correct pitch. This allows the student to hear the pulses, sometimes better know as beats, that are created between the two pitches.
I don't feel that I have yet scratched the surface of all the benefits that either of these teaching tools has to offer. I'm sure that I could sit through Smart Music or Smart Board clinics and still feel no better than a novice. However, the little I do know about these programs has made my job much easier this year and I look forward to learning about how they can help more in the future.
Wayne Root is the Director of Bands in Valley Springs, Arkansas. For more information on Smart Music, please visit www.smartmusic.com.
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