Tag Archives: SmartMusic

SmartMusic Updates It’s Pricing

Today, MakeMusic, the makers of SmartMusic, announced new pricing for SmartMusic. I believe they have jacked up the price by $5 a year, BUT they allow you to install it on multiple computers and devices (like iPads for their upcoming iPad version).

So this is actually GOOD news for the average student. But….

If you are a school, it is going to be a lot more expensive. They are charging a per student license of $8 a student, which what I hear is about 7x’s more expensive than it was.

Still, with all it’s quirks, the SmartMusic program is still an excellent tool for practice. The shear amount of band music they have in there is worth it.

Music Notation and Music Education Software News | MakeMusic, Inc.

Music Notation and Music Education Software News | MakeMusic, Inc.:

Minneapolis – November 12, 2012 – MakeMusic, Inc. (NASDAQ: MMUS) today announced the upcoming release of an iPad version of SmartMusic, the interactive practice software, in the spring of 2013. The app will be previewed to the public at the New York State School Music Association Winter Conference, November 29 – December 2, 2012, and The Midwest Clinic Annual Conference, December 19 – 22, 2012.

(Via www.makemusic.com)

MakeMusic should have this out in the Spring of 2012, not 2013. And hopefully it should run on ALL iPads (including the original) since Apple’s Garageband still runs on the original iPad (and it runs quite well actually).

SmartMusic – FAIL!

If you read the archives here, you know that I have a love/hate relationship with MakeMusic/SmartMusic (same company). Their products have a lot of potential, but I think the corporate environment there is messed up.

The current issue I have with MakeMusic is my SmartMusic renewal. About 2 years ago, you needed to have an Educators subscription to obtain a “code” to allow students to get a subscription for $25 a year. Fair enough. Then they came out with SmartMusic 11 and did away with the “code” thing, and offering educators access to their site to be able to track assignments, grades, send assignments, etc. Sounded good in theory, but it never worked right for me at all. And students never used it. So, why am I paying for it then? I simply want to be able to create some SmartMusic exercises for my students, and take advantage of the huge library they have for sightreading purposes.

So, this year, with money being a concern, I did initially renew my account, which was like $130. This was back in January. I’m pretty sure I gave them all the credit card info and what not. Then, the other week, I get an invoice from them saying that my account is overdue. What? Actually, this is to be expected. They pretty much do this every year I’ve had an account with them. I enter all the billing info and payment info online, and they proceed to lose it or misplace it or something. Upon reflection, I decided I wanted to just have a student subscription. Well, “Chris” from their SmartMusic support says that I do not qualify. What? I could set up a new account and order the software and stuff for $30, but since I had an educators account, they would not move me down to a student account even though I explicitly said I did not need all the “stuff” that the educators account had.

So, I cancelled the account. Stupid guys. You should offer SmartMusic for $30 to everyone, and if an educator wants to take advantage of your “services” (if you want to call it that…..I wouldn’t), then they can add on the extra to be able to track students, send assignments, hear recordings, etc, etc.

I really wish someone would buy MakeMusic, gut the management, and actually force them to start updating their products with more features and better user interfaces. Actually, I’d be happy if they just got rid of the management.

MakeMusic CEO Resigns

I came across this today.

Minneapolis – November 24, 2008 – MakeMusic Inc. (Nasdaq: MMUS), a world leader in music notation and education software, today announced that John Paulson has resigned from his positions as co-chief executive officer and director. Mr. Paulson will serve as a consultant for the company for a transitional period. The board of directors would like to thank Mr. Paulson for his service to the company: As the founder of MakeMusic, Mr. Paulson’s commitment, dedication and entrepreneurial spirit were instrumental in helping MakeMusic achieve its status as a leader in its field.

Is this hopefully a good turn for the makers of Finale and SmartMusic? I hope so. Finale has been a mess since Finale 2007. They added Linked Parts, then did nothing. They have been adding fluff to Finale, and focusing on SmartMusic, which is a similar disaster. There is a lot of potential in both products, but there is a disconnect and how they work together (basically……..not really well).

Hopefully 2009 will be the year they get their act together……or someone creates a way for Sibelius to read Finale 2009 and previous version files……without any conversions.

SmartMusic 11 Released

MakeMusic released SmartMusic 11 on Thursday. After nearly 3 hours of downloading at a whopping 10k/sec, I got it. Installed it. And…….well, it looks the same. No interface changes. Can’t really tell what they did to it.

Certainly not worth a 11 release. Maybe a 10.2 or something.

They really need to change the interface, fix the green follow line (STILL lags behind on my iMac 2gigahertz Core 2 Duo on up tempo songs), and all the other things I’ve complained about before.

Oh, and add Grainger’s Children’s March to the Concert Band library………

UPDATE: I also get this message on my Mac:
“Warning: you do not have write access to all files and folders under ‘/Library/Application Support/MakeMusic/SmartMusic Studio’. Certain aspects of SmartMusic may not work, including Impact assignments. To fix this issue, contact your network administrator.”

First thing is that the program installs SmartMusic in the System Library, not the user area. Why? Dunno. And looking at the directory permissions I see: “drwxrwxrwx 7 ericdannewitz admin 238 Sep 13 11:46 SmartMusic Studio”

So……what gives guys?

UPDATE: Oh, found another thing. You can continue to use the program while it downloads new music. That certainly qualifies for a 11 release (tongue in cheek).

SmartMusic 10.2

MakeMusic finally released SmartMusic 10.2 today. Highlights of the new features:

  • Support of Mac OS X Leopard
  • Microphone Check Wizard ensures proper microphone levels for recording and assessment
  • Easier-to-Use – many aspects of SmartMusic have been simplified and made more intuitive, including the installer, login process, activation, and update messaging
  • Create assignments with audio-quality accompaniment for any concert selection. Simply upload the audio file and distribute sheet music; then your band, orchestra, and choir students can practice their part with accompaniment in SmartMusic.

There are some other “features”, but these are the ones that are interesting. Especially the last one. The update is about 80 megs for Windows, 97 Megs for Mac. So, how does it work? In a word, the same as before…. Continue reading SmartMusic 10.2

SmartMusic 10.1

One of my favorite whipping boys is SmartMusic. This program could be so great, and yet, MakeMusic seems not to want to put that little extra polish on it. Case in point, the latest “update” to SmartMusic is a large download, some 95 Megabytes. Took some time to download. Here is what is listed as being “new”

  • Compatibility with SmartMusic accompaniments created in Finale® 2008.
  • Support for Windows Vista.
  • Improved Clarinet assessment.

I emailed MakeMusic’s tech support about the first thing a while ago, when Finale 2008 came out. Never heard back. Figures. Well, at least they didn’t wait nearly a year to update SmartMusic to read the SmartMusic files generated from the latest version of Finale (last time, it was August 2006 when Finale 2007 came out, and not until April 2007 when SmartMusic could read the SmartMusic files generated by Finale 2007).

Ok, new stuff. Continue reading SmartMusic 10.1

SmartMusic 10 Updated…….sorta

Since it was released in April, SmartMusic 10 has not been updated. That changed last Tuesday, when the program informed me that updates were available. The proceeding 30 minutes of downloads yielded some new things, and some not so new things………

First, the new things……..

Additional play-alongs. 60 titles like they promised? Maybe. There is no list of new things, and Smartmusic.com has no information on the release. I see a lot of Concert Band things, and TWO new Jazz Band ones. And not all that great of Jazz Band songs either. Oh well.

That is it for the new stuff.

Not so new. Bugs. User Created Continue reading SmartMusic 10 Updated…….sorta

Pimped Out Studio

The idea, which I have had for years, was to have a digital studio where I didn’t go through reams of paper every year. I finally did it. Using an iMac, and it’s video spanning capabilities, I made a digital music stand. While the technology has been there, the costs were way too high. The costs for this was around $650+/-. $70 for the VESA Mount, $100 for the Conga stand, $300 for the monitor, $25 for the iMac video adapter, $120 for the USB foot pedal, and $6 for the plastic cover and connectors (Tap Plastics rocks). A year or two ago, this would have been a lot more. A year from now, it will be less. That’s technology for ya.

Pictures and more inside……

I have a lot of songs that I have done on Finale and on PDF, enough to fill a 3 inch binder. In fact, I have 5 such binders that I have tried to store copies of the songs so I wouldn’t need to print them out if I wanted to play them with a student. One problem with this system is finding songs. An Index? Well, I suppose, but it is a pain keeping it up to date, and flipping though a huge 3 inch binder is not fun. Plus, the Manhassette stand won’t keep raised with a full 3 inch binder on it. Then there are page turns. It was just a hassle.

Now, with the all digital setup, I can load a song up, display it on the other screen. Simple. No printing. If it is multiple pages, no problem, the 22″ monitor handles it with no problems. Three pages? That is where the foot peddle comes in. I have the X-Keys programmed (using iKey) to advance to the next page if I stomp on the right of the peddle, back a page if I stomp left, and in the center, it toggles one or two page mode. I can also do the same stuff using PDF files. So, anything I’ve scanned in I can view in the same way. It works very well so far.

The other thing is SmartMusic. It’s easier to use, though SmartMusic does not do two pages. Though it does seem to work alright if you flip the monitor around and put it into portrait mode.

Continue reading Pimped Out Studio

SmartMusic 10

MakeMusic, after much hype, delay, and then more hype, has finally released SmartMusic 10 in April. This is really what the program should have been from the get go. There are a lot of great Concert Band, and String Orchestra music on the screen selections. There are a few Jazz Band ones as well. The program is Universal Binary for Macintosh, meaning it is really responsive.

The short review of this is to get it. If you can get it for the $25 a year subscription price, it is a huge value. There are tons of great tunes, exercises, and other things in there.

However, the promised “60 New Titles A Month” has not materialized as of yet. And there are some bugs need to be addressed….

The New Stuff

In the previous version of SmartMusic a lot of the arrangements were installed when you installed the program. Now, SmartMusic downloads what it needs. For people with fast internet connections, that is great. For people on Dialup….you have my sympathies. Though, on the flip side, once you have them, you don’t need to download them again.

This is also true of the Pro Audio backgrounds. One of the new features of SmartMusic 10 is the inclusion of professional background recordings. So, instead of a midi rendition of a Jazz piece, you now get a great sounding real version of the song. But…..you need to download it. For dialup users…..well, that could be a time consuming thing. Once you download them, the recordings seem to be stored in a SQLlite database as MP3s. I’ve tried out a lot of the Concert band and Jazz Ensemble ones. Very nice. Recording quality is excellent. You can also select whatever part you want to play. So, you can play Oboe parts, or Clarinet 2, or Bass Clarinet, or Drums. Very cool and fun stuff.

Music on the screen. The previous version of SmartMusic had a very limited amount of music on the screen. There were a dozen or so classical pieces, the Alfred Jazz stuff, Wynton Jazz stuff, and the exercises. SmartMusic 10 has a ton of music on the screen. ALL the pro audio selections have music on the screen.

There are some things to track student assignments and stuff. I really am not interested in that, so, I did not try it.

The Bad Stuff

First, content. MakeMusic is promising Continue reading SmartMusic 10

SmartMusic 10 M.I.A.

For months, MakeMusic has been saying SmartMusic 10 is coming. The amount of hype they have been making is akin to Microsoft and it’s “new” Vista operating system. MakeMusic hasn’t even updated the current version of SmartMusic to handle files generated by Finale 2007 which was released way back in August. To create files, you need to have 2006 still installed on your computer.

The other day, I received a packet from MakeMusic. I was shocked. It looked like SmartMusic 10 had been release. Alas, it was not. Instead of spending money getting the stupid program out, they chose to spend quite a bit of money to continue the “hype” of the vaporware SmartMusic 10. This packet probably cost $10 to put together. Perhaps more.

Let us examine the contents of this “hype” package….

First Continue reading SmartMusic 10 M.I.A.

Tweaking Smart Music On The Mac

I have a love/hate relationship with MakeMusic’s Smartmusic. First, the love part. I love that it has a lot of backgrounds for classical etudes, and you can slow them down, tweak the key, etc. You can even record yourself with it, though the quality and the mixing of the resulting recording is not great at all.

Hate part. They tether you to the computer. Personally, I hate looking at a computer monitor all day, and for music. I like to have music stretched out on my stand. 3 Pages sometimes. A lot of stuff, including the jazz stuff in Smartmusic, is screen only. While I can understand copyright issues for songs, for simple little jazz patterns I don’t. Why not let people print them?

Anyhow, the Continue reading Tweaking Smart Music On The Mac

Smartmusic 9.0

SmartMusic has been updated to version 9. MakeMusic is hyping it with Wynton Marsalis who gives little “talks” about how to use the software. If you have used SmartMusic before, you know how the interface sucks. It still sucks. The sounds still suck. However, they have added some jazz things.

A couple of things sounded interesting, so I downloaded (finally!) the upgrade (500+ megabytes) and installed it. First off, NONE of the jazz exercises are printable. In fact, hardly anything is printable. In my opinion, it cripples the program. How can you promote the “on screen drum charts” when I doubt anyone can get their computer anywhere close to their drum set. Also, on the Mac Mini system I tested it on (1.42 gigahertz), the follow cursor (line or whatever you want to call it) seems to be behind the music, which kind of blows the whole reason for having the cursor there. SmartMusic needs to be able to PRINT examples, exercises, lead sheets. Adopt a print feature like MusicNotes.com has and print an “authorized for use by So and So” on the bottom right of every page.

SmartMusic has a lot to offer, such as great backgrounds to all kinds of Classical literature. Avoid the Beatles stuff in there, as it’s super cheezy. The Jazz stuff has a long way to go. There needs to be the ability to create loops, and perhaps freely take patterns and combine them with other patterns and create a practice loop. I’d recommend Band-in-a-Box over SmartMusic for Jazz any day of the week. Not only does Band-in-a-Box allow you to create progressions of any length or style, but you can PRINT out charts.

I give SmartMusic a 5 out of 10. It’s a love/hate relationship with this program. I like the classical pieces and hate the interface and sounds.