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Discussion Starter #1
Has anyone checked out StarPlay (http://www.starplaymusic.com) ?

Brief history: I started playing sax at age 35, 8 years ago. I quickly got into some small combo jazz situations such that I was always playing intermediate material with maybe advanced beginner skills. After a complete break from playing, I'm reviewing the basics with an eye to advancing my fundamental skills.

Back to StarPlay. It's a monthly subscription, so not pricey at all to check out. I really like the assessment feature because it points out intonation errors, timing problems, ignored rests, notes played too short, and so forth. All the material is at a pretty basic level, but I find that I'm hooked on trying to achieve a certain score on all the pieces.

If you try the program, you'll find that it's not a very mature software product and the repertoire needs expanding. Still it's worth some time and I'll probably keep subscribing for a while.

So I also checked out SmartMusic, an established product that also has assessment of ones' playing. To my surprise, SM doesn't seem to check anything but "did the right note start at more or less the right time?" So that was disappointing.

Does anyone know of a similar product with more repertoire than StarPlay?

Thanks,

Susan
 

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Thank you

Thank you for your positive comments on StarPlay Susan. :)

As for repertoire, did you know that you can import your own Sibelius files into the software? Click on "Open Score" in the toolbar - it's next to "Tune". You can also use this tool with an existing piece - usually used by teachers when they are simplifying a piece.

Alternatively, click on "More Music" in the left panel to access SibeliusMusic.com - which has the largest collection of new scores on the web.

Cheers,
Michelle from StarPlay
[email protected]
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Starplay Repertoire

Hi Michelle,

I'm still waiting on the repertoire question. I did find some tenor sax pieces on sibeliusmusic.com, but SP didn't handle the transposition correctly (i.e. - it didn't transpose for the instrument at all). The support team got right back to me when I reported this and promised to fix it in an upcoming revision. They are responsive to bug reports, which is a good thing!

I do wish that, when SP handles transpositions and I can use files from sibeliusmusic, that I will be able to pick pieces for other instruments and use them for my instrument. For example, I would like to choose an "alto sax" piece, tell Starplay that I'm really playing a tenor sax, and Starplay would adjust the playback and assessment pitches so that the piece will work for me. That would open up a huge amount of material for a tenor player.

Then there's Sibelius ... that's a pretty expensive path, both in dollars and time to learn the software. Basically, any time spent on that will come out of my practice time and cost a bundle, so I'm a bit hesitant.

There are other "get music" links on the Starplay page, but when I follow them it is not clear at all how to get a file that will work for my instrument. I'd suggest a set of tutorials on the Starplay website. I'll be happy to test them out for you, too!

Anyway, I'm still excited about the project and hope you guys enjoy great success with it.

Susan
 

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Thank you for this information, Saxmaam.

Interesting! At an admittedly rapid scan of the site, the cost of this program was not readily apparent. It would also be helpful to know the approximate grade levels of the available music. I hope you will keep us posted on how it well it is working for you.
Ruth
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Music grades ... 0.5 to 2.0. It's $13 for a one month subscription, $100 for a year (I think). I've played all the basic repertoire in a month and it probably did my playing some good, dinging me as it did for note-timing problems and intonation problems. So it was $13 well spent. I worked almost all the pieces up to a score of 9800 of a possible 10000. One of these days I'll start a second pass and go for 9900.

I didn't touch at all on the most touted features of the software because ... well because I'm not a little kid (target audience). But I can see that for a youngster it would be valuable to get a preview of how a competent player of the instrument would sound and look like on the piece s/he is trying to play, to play along with the competent player, and to play with an accompanist. It would be interesting for me, too, if they had some more advanced material.

Starplay has some videos on their site to cover this stuff.

Susan
 

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:blankmea: Hi Susan, the links for "More Music" are third party websites which I have found. Most of them simply require you to download the Sibelius files.

Thank you for your suggestion on tutorials - I'm working on them right now. I'll let you know when they're ready. We've recently put out some lesson plans - but these are probably not what you're after as they have been made to facilitate teachers.

Congrats on your score! You can choose to change your assessment level from Easy, Medium to Hard - this is on the right of the toolbar menu.

I have informed of your request for more advance material. Can you provide suggestions on the sort of material you are interested in?

Hi AltoRuth - it's free to download StarPlay. Once in, you'll be able to preview all the music available and try it out with the two free pieces.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Starplay Repertoire

Hi, Starplay,

I noticed yesterday that there is more repertoire if I claim to be a trumpet player. Of course I have to play an octave up on my tenor sax so I run out of range. But there's some more material for me to chew on and that's good. If I could tell Starplay to assess my playing an octave lower, that would be way better because I could use the whole range of the instrument on these files. Or ... they could be adapted for the saxes, which would be ideal.

Suggestions for material. Wow. Method books, studies, and pieces, both classical and jazz come to mind. I would be ecstatic if I found things like the Rubank method (intermediate & advanced), Klose Exercises, Voxman Studies, Jerry Coker's Patterns for Jazz, and some kind of jazz conception etudes (e.g. the series by Lennie Niehaus). Also I suspect that you're on a great path already, just that it takes time to put material together.

I sent you a private message regarding the "More Music" options. Let me know if you didn't get that.

Susan
 

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Hi Saxmaam, thank you for your repertoire suggestions. I've passed them onto our production team.

Tutorials: If you look under "Help" in StarPlay, you should find a series of notes on using StarPlay.

Unfortunately I have not received your message re More Music - did you send this StarPlaySupport or on this forum?

tjontheroad: Mac compatibility is under development. If you would like to be notified when this is available, please send me an email with the names of the instrument(s) you play. My address is michelle(at)starplaymusic(dot)com.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Tutorials

Hi Michelle,

The private message was sent here. The only tutorial I was wishing for related to getting sibelius files off of those "More Music" sites. I'm clearer on that now, and some of the kinks have been worked out of the software, too, since I posted that.

Maybe only issue with "More Music" at this point is this one: "sheetmusicdigital.com - I couldn't find a single free sample to download and test." The reason I'd like one is that I wonder if the assessment features of SP will work with my transposing instrument with files from this site.

Well, actually I have a wishlist, too, but I'll be inflicting that on your nice tech support people when the time is right;)

Anyways, I still say this software is "cool beans." It's a fun way to shore up some of the intonation and timing issues in my playing, since Starplay points out the problem spots relentlessly. Unless you're a total beginner, set the evaluation level to "Hard" all the time.

Susan
 

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So what do you do, mic yourself into the computer and it compares what it hears to what the music indicates should be played, and then gives a read back of where you are off? If so, how hard is it to watch that verses reading the music your playing at the same time?
 

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waiting with bated breath

If StarPlay can get Coker's 'Patterns for Jazz' where each pattern will cycle through all keys with relevant accompaniment, I would subscribe just for this. I am a current SmartMusic subscriber with three licenses (myself and two students). I will be contactacting you with suggestions although the ones mentioned here are top notch.

:)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
bradshawm said:
So what do you do, mic yourself into the computer and it compares what it hears to what the music indicates should be played, and then gives a read back of where you are off?
Yes, that's a good description.

bradshawm said:
If so, how hard is it to watch that verses reading the music your playing at the same time?
The fact that the feedback is realtime not too important, though I do take a cue when it tells me the intonation is off. I agree that it could be distracting.

What's really useful is that you see a summary after playing the exercise. You can see everything it dinged you for and zero in on those things. Also you can play it back and listen for those problems. Finally, the recording itself is there to listen to when you are done. You can get a great score but still not sound like great player since it only checks for certain things. But if you don't get a great score, then probably you need to fix some stuff.

One could argue that recording yourself and listening for problems is just as good, but it's nice to have the software remove some of the tedium from that.

Anyway, as Michelle said, it's free to try out with a couple of demo tunes.

You can also put your own exercises in with Sibelius. I don't have Sibelius and don't want to make that investment right now, but ... maybe that could be a SOTW project ... Jazz Patterns for Starplay. It doesn't have to be exactly the Coker patterns to be useful. I don't know if an accompaniment can be entered that way. Maybe Michelle could advise.
 

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Hi Saxmaan, we look forward to receiving more suggestions from you. You know where to send it to :) (the support team, not me... lol).

Bradshawn, if you prefer, you can choose to not receive feedback by changing the mode to "Listen". Only Practice, Rehearse and Perform are assessed/recorded. You will still be able to slow/speed up the tempo in Listen.

Redwood_Lenny, thank you for your repertoire suggesions, I've passed this onto our Content team.

Saxmaan.. You can have multiple parts in your score and choose which line you would like to have assessed in StarPlay. You will be able to hear the accompaniment using "Rehearse" or "Perform".

Also, seeing how this is a new product, I'm working on spreading the word about StarPlay - are there any other active Saxophone websites I should get on? I've just requested for StarPlay to be listed under this website's resources. Fingers-crossed!
 
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