Practicing at home is the key to playing an instrument well and is often included in a student’s homework, but most students can fib about how often or how much they play.
Well, Turlock Christian High School Concert Band Teacher Loren Lima can tell how long and how often his students practice at home with a new program called Smart Music.
“It lets me know what they are doing at home and how they are practicing at home,” Lima said. “The program now holds them accountable instead of me hoping that they tell me the truth about practicing.”
This is the first time that Turlock Christian is using the Smart Music program. It’s mostly an at-home program to help students practice more effectively.
The program tells students the mistakes they make so they can fix them right at home, he said.
“It is more of a tool to make sure they are playing right,” Lima said. “With this they can hear how they play and it gives them feedback. The program tells them if they are playing wrong.”
Even the students enjoy learning about their mistakes so they can fix them early on.
“It grades you and lets you know how you did,” said Stephanie Rempel, a seventh-grader in the Concert Band class. “I never knew I was playing flat instead of sharp and it told me.”
Students enjoy the grading because they can strive for 100 percent.
“It encourages me to be more precise,” said Brianne McCuistion, senior at Turlock Christian. “I lose track of my time on there because I keep saying ‘one more time one more time’ so I can get 100 percent.”
McCuistion said in the past she used to wait to practice at home until the last minute, doing it the old fashion way, but now she looks forward to practicing every day.
“I used to play until I was tired, but now I play past being tired because I want to do well,” she said.
Through the program Lima can have students record themselves playing that they then send back to him and he can listen to how they played. Students can also adjust the tempo, so they can slow down the music and adjust some measures to fit them best.
“It is fun playing with the program,” said Melvin Uytingco, a seventh-grader who has been playing the double French horn for the past two years. “You can adjust certain things. If it is too hard you can slow it down.”
Lima can also change the assignments, allowing other band music to play along with the student or take away the sheet music all together so the student has to memorize the music.
“It gives them an idea of what it feels like to play in a band,” Lima said. “Instead of playing alone at home it plays the rest of the band music.”To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2015