The effectiveness of the SmartMusic assessment tool for evaluating trombone student performance

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Michael Kenneth Long (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Randy Kohlenberg

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to discuss the SmartMusic® assessment feature and to determine the effectiveness of this software with regard to student trombonists. The study was completed due to the widespread use of this convenient method forevaluating trombone student performances.The document includes an overview of evaluation that addresses subjectivity and objectivity, as well as the need for evaluation in music education. A discussion of evaluation was applied specifically to trombone students along with an examination of the essential criteria that were to be addressed during a performance evaluation. Visual criteria in the study included the advantages and disadvantages to having a blind evaluation. Aural criteria included subjective and objective elements in five categories of brass performance evaluation including articulation, rhythm, tone, intonation, and musicianship/style as presented in Wardlaw's (1997) Brass Performance Rating Scale. Background information about the software SmartMusic® and its grading feature was presented. The study also included a discussion of seventeen recorded performances using SmartMusic®. To test the evaluation feature of the software, an etude was performed seventeen times on the trombone. In each performance, one element was changed that focused upon one component of the evaluation. The purpose of this part of the study was to see how each change affected the assessment feature's assigned grade for each performance. The SmartMusic® assessment feature assigned a dichotomy of high and low grades, classifiable as A and F respectively. This grading tendency was a result of the parameters used by the assessment feature to determine which notes are deemed correct or incorrect. The SmartMusic® assessment feature only employs limited objective criteria to evaluate; subjective criteria and all other objective criteria are not evaluated. As a result, many common problems for trombone students automatically result in a failing grade, whereas a human evaluator may only reduce a student's grade marginally for such problems. Furthermore, other common problems for trombone students are not addressed by SmartMusic®. A human evaluator, however, can address these problems, grade the student appropriately, and provide feedback for future performances.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2011
Assessment, Evaluation, Impact, Performance, SmartMusic, Trombone
Subjectivity in music
Musical ability $x Computer programs $x Evaluation
Artificial intelligence $x Musical applications
Trombone $x Computer-assisted instruction
Trombone $x Performance $x Evaluation

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