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Posts tagged with “Managing your slices”

Today we’re excited to announce several improvements and new features for the Practice section of Soundslice, the suite of practice tools we launched earlier this year. Let’s dive in!

Edit and delete private notes

You can finally edit private notes — or delete them entirely. Great for fixing typos or adding insights you forgot to include originally.

Click the pencil icon to the right of each private note to open the editing interface:

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For more details, see the help page.

View extended slice practice history

You can now quickly view your practice history for any slice — beyond the default seven-day view. Just click “See more”:

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Rename slices in practice lists

Let’s say you purchased a course from our store but the course’s slices use names like “Part 4(b)” that don’t make sense in your practice list. Or you bookmarked a community slice but its title has one too many emojis for your liking.

Renaming to the rescue!

You can now rename any slice in a practice list, to make it easier for you to find and understand. Renaming is private to you. For more details, see “Renaming slices” on this help page.

Access saved loops more quickly

You gotta love our saved loops feature, where you can save a specific subset of music for quick access.

Now, we’ve made it even easier to access them. When you’re in a practice list and view its list of slices, we now display the saved loops for each slice...

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...and you can click any saved loop name to immediately open that slice with that specific saved loop active. This saves you a few clicks and gets you to practicing even sooner.

A related bonus for power users: saved loops are now bookmarkable in your web browser. (That is, they have a distinct URL that can be bookmarked.)

Dedicated pages for each practice list

Each of your practice lists now has its own dedicated web page, with the full list of slices and the last-practiced date for each. This can help you quickly get a sense of what you haven’t practiced lately.

New design for lists of practice lists

On your main Soundslice homepage and Practice page, we used to display the first four slices for each of your practice lists. Now, we’ve simplified this — we simply display a big, single image for each practice list.

The upshot is that it’s easier to see all of your practice lists, because previously they tended to get buried behind all of the slices.

New mobile navigation

If you’re viewing our site on a phone (and you’re logged in), you’ll notice we’ve added app-like navigation on many pages. It’s the bottom row of icons shown here:

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This gives you quick ways to access the primary sections of our site — including the overview, the slice manager and the practice area.

It works particularly well if you’ve installed Soundslice in your phone’s home screen. (Highly recommended!)

Sometimes you might be working with audio that’s out of tune. Perhaps it’s an older recording, or it uses a pitch standard other than A440, or the musicians simply didn’t tune their instruments.

For these situations, Soundslice now supports pitch correction (aka pitch shifting). You can make fine-grained tweaks to your audio’s tuning, so that you can practice along with it without needing to detune your instrument.

This is now available within our syncpoint editor for all MP3 recordings. You’ll see new controls for Semitones and Cents:

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As you change the pitch there, it will immediately take effect in audio playback. What’s more, you can then save your pitch correction so that it’ll automatically be applied to anybody viewing your slice going forward.

For more on our new pitch correction feature, see the new help page.

Transposition of audio playback

We’re also launching a related feature: our transposition feature now supports transposing the audio (for MP3 recordings).

Previously, the transposition function only transposed sheet music and synthetic audio playback. Now, the transposition also applies to MP3 recordings — meaning the audio will change key seamlessly with the sheet music.

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If you’d rather not transpose the audio, uncheck the new “Transpose audio playback” checkbox. This will keep the audio as-is while continuing to transpose the notation.

Big news today: we’ve launched a new suite of practice tools, all focused on helping you make the most of the music you have in Soundslice.

We’ve been working for nearly 10 years now on perfecting our player — the core Soundslice experience, combining sheet music with audio/video for multi-dimensional learning. In our opinion, it’s the single best tool for learning and practicing any piece of music.

But beyond specific pieces of music, what about the bigger picture? How do you manage what you’re practicing, how do you stay motivated, and what tools can we provide to help your practice in a broader sense? We’re interested in zooming out — providing more connective tissue for your music-learning life.

Our new practice tools are the first step in addressing this. Here’s an overview of what’s new.

Practice lists

There are many parts to Soundslice, and you as a student can access content in many ways — from a teacher, from our store, from our friendly community or by transcribing or creating sheet music yourself.

Alas, up until now, these areas have been relatively segregated. When you log into your Soundslice account, there are separate sections for courses you’ve purchased, slices shared privately by your teacher, posts from the community and slices you’ve created yourself.

Now there’s a way to organize it all in one place.

Practice lists are a way to bundle slices together, in a specific order, for your own benefit. For example, a practice list could contain a handful of slices you created yourself, plus an Antoine Boyer etude you bought, plus an arrangement from Jake Estner’s channel.

It’s totally open-ended, and you can have multiple lists. You could have a “Warmup routine” practice list, plus a “Working on” list, plus a “Tunes for March 15 gig” list.

You’ll now see a “Practice lists” button at the top of every slice page (assuming you’re logged in). This is how you can add a slice to one of your practice lists, and it looks like this:

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Every Soundslice account gets a free practice list called “Bookmarks” by default. Our previous bookmarks system has been migrated to this and retired. If you used that system, your bookmarks have been automatically imported into your “Bookmarks” practice list.

The ability to create custom practice lists is now available for any Soundslice user in a paid plan. (The Plus plan is the cheapest, at 5 bucks a month — a good deal.) For more on practice lists, see our new help section.

Practicing slices

Organizing slices into lists is all well and good, but we’re launching more than just that today. When you view a slice in context of a practice list, you’ll get all of the Soundslice features you know and love — but you’ll also get some additional functionality.

The first thing you might notice is the left part of the page — it’s a special sidebar only visible for slices in practice lists:

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On smaller screens such as phones, you won’t see this sidebar by default. Open the sidebar by tapping this icon at the top of the page:

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The practice sidebar has three sections, each of which is a brand new Soundslice feature launched today.

Practice log

The practice log is a lightweight way to track your practice history. It’s super simple and (in our experience) provides an extra bit of motivation. Don’t break the streak!

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These circles represent the last seven calendar days, including today. (Today is always on the right.) For each day you practiced this piece of music, the circle is green. This quickly shows you your practice streak.

When you’ve practiced the slice for the day, just click that button to mark it as practiced:

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Man, that’s satisfying.

The practice log on an individual slice only shows seven days, for simplicity. But you can access your full practice history (at least since you started using Soundslice’s practice tools) to dive deeper.

For more info, see the new help page on practice tracking.

Private notes

The second new thing you’ll see on slice practice pages is called private notes. This is a way for you to write down reflections on what you’re learning, breakthroughs on technique, your current best BPM, etc.

These notes are completely private to you. Nobody else can see them, even if the slice is technically owned by somebody else (for example, if you’ve added a community post to your practice list).

It’s a simple and intuitive system, and you can read more about it here.

Saved loops

This one is my favorite! Remember how we launched focus mode back in November? It’s the feature that lets you select an arbitrary section of music and hide everything else, helping you focus.

You can now save a focus mode section, so that you can return to it quickly any time. Essentially this is a way to bookmark a “slice of a slice.”

For any slice in a practice list, simply drag across any part of your notation to create a loop. Then click the “...” button at the upper right of the selection and choose “Save loop.”

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We’ll automatically enter focus mode for your selected section of music, and you’ll be prompted to give the saved loop a name. By default we’ll use the bar range you’ve selected.

When you’ve done that, the newly created saved loop will appear in the sidebar:

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Once you’ve created saved loops, it’s very fast and easy to access them. Just click any of the names in the saved loops section of the practice sidebar, and your notation will instantly enter focus mode with the specific loop selected:

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Playback will automatically loop, and all other notation will magically be hidden — removing distraction and letting you focus on the subset of music.

See our new help page on saved loops for more, and enjoy!

The new practice homepage

And lastly: if you’re logged into your Soundslice account, you’ll now notice a new Practice link in the navigation:

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This page is basically the command center for all of our new practice features. It lets you create (and access) practice lists, and it shows you your practice history.

Next steps

We’re excited about these new features and excited to hear your thoughts about them. Your feedback will help guide us: where should we take this next? Drop a comment below or contact us. Hope you enjoy the new features!

If you use Soundslice to create instructional materials with a lot of talking and explaining, we have an excellent new feature for you.

You can now create nonsequential syncpoints — meaning the syncing between a video and sheet music no longer has to be linear.

Previously, as you watched a slice, the playhead would always be moving forward (except in cases of repeats or jumps). Now, when you sync your slice, you can choose to move the playhead back a few bars or even hide it during a segment.

Why would you want to do this? In music-lesson videos (particularly those recorded without Soundslice in mind), there are times when the instructor pauses to explain a part of the music, perhaps repeating it multiple times while discussing it. If your goal is to sync that video with sheet music, you’re forced to decide: “Should I duplicate the notation each time the instructor plays it, or should I use a commentary bar to label this with text?” Either way can be labor intensive if you want to create top-notch instructional materials.

Now, if you’re in that situation, you can simply add some extra syncpoints, to move the playhead back to the appropriate part of the sheet music. Or you can hide the playhead entirely, if you’d like the student to focus on the video. Essentially, nonsequential syncpoints save you time and can result in a clearer learning experience for the student.

This is an advanced feature, and it can be hard to understand, so we’ve put together a sample lesson video using three different approaches. Check out our new help page on nonsequential syncpoints to see the examples and learn more.

Not interested in this? No problem. For the common case of using Soundslice to sync a performance video/audio with sheet music, you won’t need to use nonsequential syncpoints — just use the same workflow you had before.

For those of you using Soundslice for this type of music education, we’re looking forward to seeing how you use this new feature.

Here’s what we’ve launched and tweaked recently. There’s something for everybody in here!

Improved editor touchscreen interface

Since launching a touchscreen editing interface last month, we’ve gotten good feedback from musicians actually using it. We’re following up with some improvements directly based on that. Can you spot the differences in this new screenshot?

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First, we’ve made the piano keys function as a toggle. If a note is selected and already exists in your notation, you can tap it in the piano keyboard (or fretboard) to remove the note. This feels really intuitive and was suggested by a few users.

Second, we added an “Auto-advance” button. Click that to enable auto-advance mode, which will automatically advance the cursor each time you enter a note. Handy for quick entry of single-note lines.

Third, we removed chord mode. It no longer felt necessary due to the previous two changes.

Fourth, we removed the up/down arrow buttons, to make the interface less cluttered. Those arrows weren’t really useful, as you can simply tap on the keyboard or fretboard to select another note in the current beat.

All of this is covered in more detail in our updated help page. Thanks to the folks who sent us feedback to help guide these changes!

“Pending” students in private courses

This one’s for people in the Teacher plan.

Previously, on the “Manage students” page for a private course, you could add students via email address — but it required the email address to already exist in our system. If you tried to add an email that didn’t yet have a Soundslice account, you’d see an error message.

Now, if you add an email address that doesn’t have a Soundslice account, no problem. The student will be marked as “Pending,” and we’ll send them an email inviting them to your course. As soon as they create their free Soundslice account, they’ll get access to your course. Smooth!

Improvements to student management

Another thing for Teacher plan customers: we’ve made the student management page more useful.

First, we added a dedicated page for each of your students, listing all of the private courses they’re in, plus all of the slices you’ve shared with them personally. (See our separate blog post about the new individual sharing feature.)

Second, we added a way to remove students directly via your students page. This is much faster than removing the student from each individual course or slice.

See the updated help page for more info.

Slice manager redesign

We’ve updated the visual design of the slice manager — the page where we list all of the slices you’ve created.

The new design has explicit links for “Edit” and “Practice.” We’d found that some people thought it was only possible to open slices in edit mode — with all of the editor tools taking up valuable screen space — so we’ve provided clear, separate links to both views now:

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To help guide your eyes to the right place, we’ve redesigned the slice and folder icons to be more subtle, and to add more color to the page.

We’ve also tweaked the filters at the top of your slice manager:

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The “Shared privately” filter is brand new. It lets you quickly find all of your slices that you’ve shared privately — either in a private course or with individual people.

The “Secret link enabled” filter is also new, but in name only. This filter used to be called “Shareable,” but that turned out to be a confusing name, given we now support private sharing with individual people — a totally different thing. Hence the new name: secret links.

And regarding secret links, we’ve also changed our editor to use this term, in the slice privacy settings menu. The menu now looks like this:

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“Add to course” is now “Share privately,” as the sharing options in that menu option have expanded.

More natural playhead behavior

This one is subtle, but it affects anybody and everybody using our player. We’ve changed our playhead’s behavior at the start of a bar.

Previously, our playback engine treated the barline as the start of the bar. This meant that, during playback, the playhead would touch the barline at the exact moment that the bar’s audio began:

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However, this meant we had an inconsistency. For the first note in a bar, the playhead wouldn’t visually touch the notehead until a split second after the note’s audio. This was especially noticeable at slow tempos and in cases where a bar’s first note had an accidental (hence pushing the note even farther from the barline). For super-duper-beginner students, who rely heavily on the playhead position to know when a note is played, this caused confusion.

Hence, we’ve changed our playhead positioning so that this is no longer an issue. The Soundslice playhead will now always intersect with a notehead at the exact moment that note is played in the audio — even for the first note in a bar:

Animation

Various fixes

Some other fixes we’ve made recently, in no particular order:

  • Improved automatic positioning of fingering numbers to avoid clashing with ties.
  • For people selling courses: We’ve added a convenient link to your sales stats from the edit-course page.
  • In slices with triplet feel, when dragging across the notation to make a loop, the loop background was sometimes off by a few pixels. That’s now fixed.
  • In our notation editor, we redesigned the sidebar to make the buttons larger on smaller-screen devices such as tablets.
  • In our notation editor, if you hit the Enter key while editing text, you’d be taken to the start of the slice — due to a conflict with our default keyboard shortcut “Hit Enter to go to the start of the audio.” That’s now fixed.
  • In our notation editor, if you deleted the last rest in a bar and had tablature selected, your selection would move to the staff. The selection now stays in the tab. This was particularly apparent in our touchscreen interface, which changes dramatically if you have staff vs. tab selected.
  • In our notation editor, sometimes tuplet numbers and brackets weren’t rendered when creating the initial track in a new slice. That’s now fixed.
  • Our player’s transposition feature helpfully displays the slice’s original, pre-transposition key, but it naively took the key signature from the slice’s very first bar — meaning slices starting with commentary bars always displayed the key of C. That’s now fixed.
  • When you share your slice on LinkedIn, it’ll now bring in the proper title.
  • When using non-YouTube videos in our player, looping is a bit more precise now. Previously we would pause the video for a split second after each loop iteration. We’ve removed that pause. The video looping is still not as precise as MP3 looping due to the realities of Internet video (see here for comparisons), but it’s a bit better than it was before.
  • We made some subtle improvements to our visual keyboard. If consecutive white keys are highlighted, we now make sure to retain a visual border between the keys. Previously the highlighted color bled across the keys, making the distinction between keys hard to see.
  • We’ve decreased the stem length of grace notes in our rendering engine. Previously they always used a uniform length; now their default length is shorter, and they’re even shorter still for beamed notes. This results in a tighter and nicer look.

If you’re in our Teacher plan, you can now share slices privately with individual people. This is great for teachers who give one-on-one lessons.

Previously, if you were a teacher using Soundslice with individual students, you’d need to create a private course for each student — which felt like just a wee bit too much work. Now, you can simply share a slice directly with a student, without needing to create a course.

To make this possible, we’ve redesigned the sharing experience, expanding on the improvements we made in May.

Previously, when selecting which courses to put a slice in, you’d see a list of all of your courses, with a checkbox next to each one. This was a bit overwhelming for people who have lots of courses.

Now, we use a search interface that lets you quickly find the course(s) to select. And this also includes all your students, so you can quickly share a slice with an individual person:

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Read more in our new Sharing slices with individual students help page, and please let us know your feedback!

We’ve made it a lot easier to add or remove slices from courses. Those of you in our Teacher plan are going to like this.

Previously, if you wanted to add a slice to a course, you had to go to its course page. Now it’s possible to add a slice to a course directly from the slice page.

If you open a slice in edit mode and click the privacy dropdown menu at upper right, you’ll now see a courses section there:

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(Note: This is only visible to people in our Teacher plan or higher.)

Click that to manage the list of courses this slice appears in. Add to a course or remove from a course, right there. Very quick and handy!

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We’ve also tweaked the privacy dropdown menu itself to let you quickly see whether the slice is in any courses, without needing to open the menu. If a slice is in a course, you’ll see appropriate text there:

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For those of you using our performances feature with students, please note that we’ve changed how you enable and disable performances. Previously this was controlled via the slice’s Settings menu (in the “Teacher” section), but now performance settings are accessible via this new menu.

A nice side benefit of these changes is that a slice can now have different performance settings across multiple courses. For example, within Course One it can have performances enabled but within Course Two it can have performances disabled. Previously performance settings were an all-or-nothing thing per slice.

You can read more about this on our updated help pages (courses, performances).

Here’s an improvement that should make it easier to organize the music you’re practicing in Soundslice. You can now bookmark any slice sitewide.

Previously, our bookmark feature was only available on slices that were posted to somebody’s public channel. Now, you can bookmark anything — slices in a course you’ve purchased, slices a teacher has assigned you, slices you’ve created yourself but haven’t posted publicly, etc.

To make this possible, we moved the bookmark icon to the top of the slice page. Previously it was in the “sidebar” area, by the slice description, but only certain slices have sidebars. Here’s what it looks like (the orange icon at top):

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As always, your bookmarks are available on a dedicated bookmarks page for easy access. The latest few are also available on your overview page (the main page you see when you log in).

Today, we’ve launched two improvements around the general theme of optimizing your Soundslice workflow:

Per-user permissions for organization accounts

Those of you using organization accounts — which let you share account access with multiple people without sharing passwords — are in for a treat. We’ve added a granular per-user permission system that lets you control what each organization user can do.

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Previously, we only had two levels: either you were an administrator of the organization or not. Now, we’ve added three more permissions:

  • Create slices — specifies whether this user can create slices, duplicate slices or bulk import slices.
  • Delete slices — specifies whether this user can delete slices.
  • Export slices — specifies whether this user can export slices.

More info is in our updated help page.

If you’re an organization admin, you can set these permissions when adding users to your organization or any time afterward.

For backwards compatibility, all existing organization members as of today can create, delete and export slices. If you use our organizations feature, you might want to tweak your users’ permissions depending on your needs. For example, if you’re giving temporary access to an intern, you might want to disable slice deletion for that account as a safety precaution.

Unsynced recordings identified in slice manager

In the slice manager, we used to display syncpoint counts (“35 syncpoints”) under each slice. But when we redesigned the slice manager a little over a month ago, we removed those counts to streamline the page.

Turns out some people were relying on that information to tell, at a glance, whether a slice was “finished” or not. Doh! So we’ve reintroduced this, but in a way that we hope is still streamlined.

The new approach is to display the word “Unsynced” under any slice that has a recording without syncpoints. It looks like this:

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This gives you a way to quickly see whether a slice still needs to be synced — without cluttering the slice manager interface too much. Thanks to the folks who requested this.

Here’s what we’ve improved on Soundslice this week:

Shortcut tabs in the slice manager

In your slice manager, you’ll now see some handy filters at the top of the page:

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This lets you quickly access the slices that you’ve marked as shareable, posted to your channel or marked as embeddable.

Yes, you can use it in tandem with the search — so you can search your slices for a keyword and then apply the filters.

Improved editor design

We’ve tweaked our editor’s design to add a visual “frame” around the music. Here’s the old design:

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And here’s the new design:

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The goal here was to create a clearer visual distinction between your music and the rest of the editor.

We’ve also made some other small visual improvements to the editor. The editor search box now looks more like a standard search box, to help communicate its function. And we tweaked the sidebar’s design to be a bit more consistent with the other parts of the editor.

Support for “common” and “cut time” time signatures

We now support “common time” and “cut time” glyphs for time signatures. You can create them in our editor, and we’ll automatically import them from MusicXML files. Read more in our help page.

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Previously we automatically converted these to 4/4 or 2/2 upon import — equivalent but lacking that visual panache.

Improved synth sounds for piano and guitar

We got new synth sounds for the following:

  • Guitar: Acoustic nylon
  • Guitar: Electric clean
  • Guitar: Electric distorted
  • Guitar: Electric jazz
  • Guitar: Electric muted
  • Guitar: Electric overdriven
  • Guitar harmonics
  • Piano: Bright
  • Piano: Electric
  • Piano: Electric grand
  • Piano: Honky tonk
  • Piano: Standard

Of course, Soundslice is all about syncing sheet music with real recordings as opposed to relying on cheesy synth sounds, but synth playback is useful sometimes.

Improved video icons for touch devices

You know those icons that appear when you hover over a video on Soundslice? The ones that let you choose video quality, change position or flip the video side?

Previously these icons were only shown when you hovered your mouse cursor over the video — which meant people using smartphones and tablets couldn’t access them (because they don’t have a mouse!).

This is now fixed. On touchscreen devices, you’ll now see those icons at all times, except when the video is playing.

Fixed slice manager titles not to be truncated

When we launched our navigation redesign last month, user TastyGuitarLessons pointed out in the comments section that long slice titles were getting cut off in the slice manager. This is now fixed.

Is there a lesson here? Good things come to those who post comments to our blog? ;-)

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