SJHS Orchestra Students Use Technology to Become Better Musicians

Submitted by tiffanie.miley on Fri, 12/11/2009 - 13:56

One of the hardest and scariest things about orchestra and band class is taking playing tests.  A playing test is when a student plays a specific song for the teacher, and the teacher grades on how well that student has played.  Dr. Samuel Tsugawa’s orchestra classes at SJHS have a new way of doing playing tests.  They record their playing tests on a computer, and then send them to Dr. Tsugawa using the Internet. This is done using a program called Smart Music.
   
Smart Music not only records students when they play, but it shows students how well they have done before they send the piece to Dr. Tsugawa.  Students can get the music online or Dr. Tsugawa can scan music into the computer.  Then, when students play, it shows red notes for notes played incorrectly, green notes for notes played correctly, and notes that were not played at all are black. It also plays the sounds of the rest of the orchestra. According to Dr. Tsugawa, this is very useful because students can hear everyone else and know if they are right or wrong. He also likes Smart Music because “I am able to listen to and correct playing tests on my own time, and I can see mistakes more easily.” Another bonus feature of Smart Music: It contains a metronome and a tuner to help you practice rhythm and intonation correctly.
 
Many students enjoy using Smart Music, and prefer it to the old way of doing playing tests.  Quinn Alleman, a ninth grader in the orchestra program, said, “It’s nice because there are no other people watching you, and it makes practicing at home more fun.”  Reid Dwiggins, an eighth grader who uses Smart Music, said, “It’s great because you don’t have to bring your music home.” It is even useful for kids who don’t wish to buy the program. Dr. Tsugawa has set up several computers for students to take playing tests during class time and before school.  Alexis Fischer, an eighth grader in orchestra, said that she likes this because “We don’t have to play in front of the class.” However, there are some drawbacks to this way of doing playing tests. According to her, you don’t get quite as much time on Smart Music as you would like.  But, all in all, Smart Music is a great way to take playing tests and practice.

Attributions
Christopher Taylor, SJHS Staff Writer