SmartMusic Information

  • We all use SmartMusic in the Gateway Bands. This amazing web-based subscription program allows students to practice and submit assignments on a computer at home or at school. SmartMusic gives musicians immediate feedback on their playing and offers thousands of titles to play for rehearsals and for fun. One year of SmartMusic access is included in your Gateway Band Fee.

    All Gateway Band students need access to SmartMusic to receive playing assignments and to return their assessments. More detailed information will be included during the first weeks of school.


    These are some "frequently-asked-questions" about SmartMusic at Gateway


    "We're using a laptop with SmartMusic; do we have to have an external microphone?"

    Not necessarily, but some students have found that clarinet players may have some trouble being picked up on a laptop mic because most of the sound comes out of a clarinet below the effective range of an internal mic. But then again - it might work fine.


    "My child practices for 40 minutes but only sees about 10 minutes as 'practice time;'" what's going on?"

    SmartMusic counts practice time as the time from "start take" to "stop" on the recording device. That keeps students from logging onto SmartMusic and then watching TV while SmartMusic continues to count their time logged-in as "practice time".

    But at Gateway we think that there is great value in playing along with music, searching titles, and just playing for fun.

    Please remember that in Gateway band, we care about and measure successful skills acquisition - not the time spent working on those skills. "Practice time" is assumed but not measured for grading purposes. This is a significant difference from the old "practice record days".


    "Why can't I change the tempo on an assigned piece before I submit it?" 

    When Mr. Morgan sends you an "assignment", it's usually set up to be played at a certain tempo. You should practice the piece until you have it under control at that tempo and then send it in as an assessment. Eventually, of course, we'll want everybody in band to be able to play the music correctly -- and that's where SmartMusic can really help us!


    "Sometimes when I'm playing a piece on SmartMusic, the assessment tells me that I missed a note when I know for sure that I played it correctly. Why?"

    There could be a lot of reasons, but the most likely problem is that the microphone sensitivity is set too high or too low. Try adjusting that and then experiment again. If there's still a problem, let's try the same piece on the practice room laptop with the SmartMusic microphone to see if it's still happening. Then we'll figure out the next step.

    Or you played the right note but at the wrong time. SmartMusic is very sensitive to the beginnings and the endings of note. So, if you are even a tiny bit late playing a note, it may be counted wrong.

    One other possibility is that your microphone is picking up the sounds that the rest of your family is making when you practice. Is your new puppy barking? That may give a false assessment.

    Another possibility is that you're playing the right note, but the wrong octave. That is, the note you're playing might be an "F" but it could be a "high F" or a "low F" when the music calls for a "middle F".

    One more idea is that you might be playing really flat or sharp; in that case, just use the SmartMusic tuner and try it again.

    SmartMusic has the most trouble picking up snare drum sounds, because every snare drum sounds different! This can be very frustrating but I can help to verify that your student is playing their rhythms accurately.

    REMEMBER: Try not to get frustrated; instead, just try recording it again. SmartMusic lets you try as many times as you want!

    If you DO get frustrated, feel free to let me know and I will help you.


    "I'm not sure if I'll be in band in high school, but can I still use SmartMusic to keep playing just for fun?"

    Yes! With your annual subscription, you can keep playing until... well, whenever your subscription expires. You can always renew your subscription to SmartMusic after you leave Gateway. But who knows - maybe you'll join band later in high school. SmartMusic can help you stay in shape.