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Palen Music Center Quick Note

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


The PMC Quick Note is a weekly service provided to all area directors.  It is part of our mission to support the lives of band directors across the Midwest.  The weekly Quick Note contains helpful tips and suggestions from area directors, spotlights on area college and university band programs, calendars of upcoming events, advocacy articles promoting music education, links to helpful web resources, and much more.  Comments, suggestions, ideas, and articles are always welcome.


Looking for help on a particular topic? Be sure to check out our Quick Note Catalog of back issues.

DCI Broadcast Tomorrow!
Don't miss the TV broadcast of the Drum Corps International Championships on ESPN2 tomorrow, Wednesday, September 5th at 9:00pm Central Time. For more information, click the banner below.

Smartboard + SmartMusic = Success by Wayne Root
A few years ago when I got the job here at Valley Springs High School, I quickly learned about the school's commitment of putting a Smart Board in each of the high school and middle school classrooms. After learning a little about how the Smart Boards worked, I Click to visit SmartMusic.commade sure that my room was going to be on the list of rooms getting these innovative classroom tools. Of course, we all know how being on a list to receive something from a school district can be about the same odds as having Ed McMahon come knocking on your door. However, it was when I found out that I was indeed soon getting one of the new Smart Boards installed that I sat through a clinic on Smart Music at the Arkansas Bandmasters Association convention. Sitting through this clinic, I learned that Smart Music had a few of the most popular beginner band method books in its programming. This sent the wheels in my head turning about how I could use a Smart Board in my room with Smart Music as a valuable teaching tool.

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

Online Rental Portal Available
If you have students who miss your instrument display night, please direct them to the Palen Music Center Online Rental webportal. The parents can specify an instrument of choice, fill out the information, and we can deliver the instrument to the school. It is that easy! Just visit and click Online Rental.

PMC Quick Note Begins its Third Year
Palen Music Center is proud to continue its Quick Note article series for the third year. Although there are wonderful article resources available for us to pull from, the best articles are from right here in the PMC coverage area. Wayne's article above is a prime example of what I am talking about. If you have a success story or a helpful hint to share, please let us know. We would love to include it in an upcoming issue, which now goes out to over 500 band directors across Missouri, NW Arkansas, Eastern Kansas, and NE Oklahoma. If you don't have an article to share but simply want to suggest a topic for an article, we welcome that as well. Please submit any ideas to Eric Matzat at Thanks!

By the way, if you are looking for help on a particular topic, please visit our Quick Note Catalog page, which lists all topics and past Quick Note editions. There is even a search feature which allows you to find information based on searchable key words.

Contact Your Local Palen Music Center

Can we assist you with anything?  Please contact your local Palen Music Center school road representative for all of your music education needs.


(417) 882-7000
Bob Hopkins, Mike Brown, and Zach Houser
Springfield North (417) 862-2700 Burl Williams
Columbia (573) 256-5555 Robert Pitts
Joplin (417) 781-3100 Wayne Blades
Liberty (816) 792-8301 Ken Crisp and Dick Murdock
Broken Arrow (918) 770-6827 Mackey Amos and Mark VanVranken


If you would like to submit material, make changes or corrections, give comments, or wish to be removed from this mailing list, please contact Eric Matzat.