Setup basics

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Classic SmartMusic allows educators to create a wide variety of assignments and exercises. In order to take advantage of the various possibilities, instructors must understand which type of setup to use for the exercise they are creating. In general, when students perform a single-line melody or rhythm, the exercise can be set up to use computer assessment. When more flexibility is required, exercises can be set up without assessment. Foregoing assessment allows you to display whatever you want on screen, to record any number of voices or instruments, and to give exercises that don’t have one specific right answer, such as improvisation.


The different types of exercise setups in Classic SmartMusic are referred to as different types of “accompaniments” in the documentation, since they can all play an accompaniment while the student performs.[1]

  • Assessment files show a single-line melody on screen and can assess performance accuracy. A typical use of this type of accompaniment in university training would be for melody singing practice or sight-singing.
  • Solo files can show whatever you want on screen, and can record whatever you want, but cannot provide assessment. The term “solo” can be misleading because this type of file can record any number of parts simultaneously. Typical uses in undergraduate training include improvisation and sing & play.
  • Ensemble files do not display any music on screen, and do not perform assessment, but they do give the user the ability to play or mute multiple accompanimental tracks. Michael Callahan has used ensemble files for aural learning exercises.[2]

New SmartMusic tends not to use the above terminology because it only supports the assessment type of exercise.

For more information, please see MakeMusic’s comparison of accompaniment types.

Inputting music in different versions of SmartMusic

To make an exercise in Classic SmartMusic, a score is first created in Finale notation software, then exported as a SmartMusic file (.smpx or .smp). The choice of accompaniment type (assessment, solo, or ensemble) is made while exporting in Finale. When exporting, the instructor must also identify which part(s) the student will sing or play, and which ones will be the accompaniment.

Exercises in New SmartMusic may be created with a larger number of notation programs, and are exported in music xml. Users are not required to choose an accompaniment type, since only the assessment type of exercise is possible. The selection of instruments for assessment and for accompaniment is made inside SmartMusic when importing the music xml file.

Assigning exercises

Once an exercise has been brought into SmartMusic, the instructor can adjust various settings, such as whether the metronome plays during performance. Tempo is initially based on the original notation file, but may be changed in SmartMusic. After the exercise is set the way the instructor wants, it can be turned into an assignment. The options available at this phase are based on selections the instructor has already made before clicking “Assignment;” now you can specify whether these selections are required or optional for students. For example, if you have already set the tempo to 72 beats per minute, you will be asked if 72 beats per minute should be the required tempo. Even if it is, students can still practice at a slower tempo; they would just not be able to submit takes submitted at this slower tempo.

Sight reading options

In sight reading mode, students have a limited time to look at an example before recording a take, and they may only record one take (the first take is automatically submitted). In Classic SmartMusic, you can specify sight reading options in the Controls menu before clicking “Assignment.” In new SmartMusic, sight reading settings are selected as you create the assignment.

Saving assignments

Saving assignments keeps you from having to repeat the setup work when you want to reuse an assignment. In Classic SmartMusic, this is done by saving your assignment to a library. In New SmartMusic, your settings are automatically saved as you finish creating an assignment. Both methods allow you to access the exercise later on and assign it to any of your classes.


  1. “To create SMP and SMPX files in Finale” in SmartMusic user manual
  2. Callahan, Michael R. (2015-09-01). “Teaching and Learning Undergraduate Music Theory at the Keyboard.” Music Theory Online 21 (3), ¶ 4.4.