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Posts tagged with “Teacher accounts”

Today we’ve launched a reasonably large redesign of our site’s navigation.

Why a redesign? Because our site has grown complex over the years, and it had become a bit unwieldy. Soundslice has a lot of different audiences these days — teachers with students, our community, our store, our embedding customers and people using our notation editor for self-study among other purposes.

In our old design, some of these audiences were served better than others. And it was difficult for new users to understand all the stuff Soundslice can do for them.

So here’s what we’ve changed —

New sidebar for logged-in users

If you’re logged into Soundslice, you’ll now find that most pages have left-hand sidebar navigation:

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This gives you quick access to the various things you might want to do — and it helps communicate the things you can do on Soundslice if you didn’t know about them yet. It also changes the feel of the site in a nice way, making it more unified and “appy.”

If you’re on a device with a smaller screen, you can access this sidebar menu by clicking the “hamburger” icon at upper left.

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New Overview page

When you log into Soundslice, we’ll now take you to a new Overview page. It looks like this:

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This new page gives you quick access to a bunch of things:

  • Your most recently edited slices
  • Your most recently bookmarked slices
  • Your most recently joined private courses (if you’re using Soundslice with a teacher)
  • Your most recently purchased courses from our store
  • The latest posts from people you follow in our community

We’ll only show you the sections that you’ve actually used on our site. For example, if you’ve never bought anything from our store, you won’t see a purchases section in the Overview page.

Previously, when you logged into Soundslice, we took you to your feed — the latest posts by people you follow in our community — whether you followed anybody or not. Now, the Overview page features the latest four posts from people you follow, and you can click Your feed in the sidebar to access the whole feed.

New slice manager design

The slice manager, which lists all the slices you’ve created, has gotten a nice visual refresh.

Aside from some aesthetic changes — such as tighter spacing, new icons and different typography — it also works a lot better on mobile and touch devices.

Quicker workflow for importing

Both the Overview page and the slice manager now have a new Import button:

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This saves some time for common workflows, such as importing a MusicXML file or transcribing a YouTube video.

Unified global search button

If you’re logged in, you’ll now see a prominent search box on nearly every page of the site. This will let you search either your own slices or community posts — you decide when you search, by selecting the appropriate option:

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Previously, if you wanted to search your own slices, you had to go to your slice manager first. Now, you can search your own slices from many other parts of the site.

New navigation and design for the store

The Soundslice store has a new look. We’ve given it a bespoke header, to communicate that this is really a standalone thing.

We’ve made various improvements here, such as including a consistent link to “Your cart” in the upper right, tweaking the navigation and providing quick access to your purchases.

New navigation on slice pages

When you’re viewing a slice, you’ll now get a contextual Back button at upper left, depending on where you accessed that slice from. For example, if you accessed the slice via your bookmarks, it’ll say “Your bookmarks.” If you accessed it from via your feed, it’ll say “Your feed.”

The header is also a bit smaller — providing more vertical space for the slice’s music itself.

We have some further plans here, too. Now that the slice page’s header has been cleaned up, this gives us a place to put other slice-specific controls in a consistent way. Stay tuned.

Notification icon always visible

When you’re logged in, you’ll now always have access to your notifications via the bell icon in the upper right of every page.

Previously, this notifications page was buried in the “Your feed” page and many people didn’t realize it even existed.

Note that we don’t actually change this icon’s display based on whether you have any notifications. We might do that someday, but for now you’ll need to click the icon to see the notifications.

No changes for embeds

If you’re using our Licensing plan to embed Soundslice on your own site, it will continue to look and work exactly the same way. Nothing has changed in our embedded player.

Feedback?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on these changes, plus any other suggestions you might have.

Here’s a nice new feature for those of you using Soundslice to teach beginner musicians. You can now enable automatic display of pitch names directly above notation.

If you enable automatic pitch names, anybody viewing your slice will be able to toggle them via the “Show pitch names” checkbox in our player’s settings menu. Here’s what it looks like:

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And here’s an example you can play with directly:

To enable automatic pitch names, edit your slice, open the slice details menu, go to the Teacher tab and set your preference:

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You can specify whether the pitch names should be visible by default or whether the student can opt into them manually. By default, pitch names aren’t visible or toggleable.

Of course, if you make any changes to your music within our editor, the pitch names will instantly update. Everything’s automatic and in sync.

We’d been surprised to hear from teachers who had been adding pitch names to their music manually — a tedious and error-prone process. Sit back and let the computer do the work for you!

This feature is now available for anybody in the Teacher or Licensing plan. Enjoy!

Here’s a small improvement that several people have asked for. If you’re using our performances feature, you can now download original performance videos.

You’ll now see a “Download” button on the performance page. Just click that to start the download:

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Teachers have been using Soundslice performances as an easy way to manage the logistics of student performance videos. This new feature helps make that even more useful. For example, some teachers have told us they compile their student performance videos into montages to showcase student progress.

Thanks to those of you who requested this, and please keep the feedback coming.

We’ve added the ability to upload a ZIP file containing many notation files. This lets you quickly create lots of slices in bulk.

If you’re in the Teacher or Licensing plan, you’ll now see a “Bulk upload notation files” icon in your slice manager:

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Click that to get started. You’ll see this page:

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Here, under some info on how it works, you’ll have the ability to set some default parameters for each imported slice:

  • Whether printing is allowed
  • What to use for the slice name (the filename or data within the file)
  • Whether embedding is enabled (only Licensing customers will see this)

It can take a few minutes for us to process the ZIP file, so there’s a place for you to enter an email address. When the import is done, we’ll send a report to that address, with detailed information on each slice that we created and any errors we found.

Bulk uploads will automatically be put in a fresh folder in your slice manager. If you’re not happy with your bulk upload for whatever reason, you can quickly delete it using our new “delete folder” feature from last month.

Lots of people have requested the ability to bulk upload, especially teachers who have lots of existing materials in MusicXML or Guitar Pro formats. Enjoy the new feature!

We’ve seen a large increase in Soundslice usage due to the Covid-19 outbreak, with music teachers worldwide flocking to web-based teaching tools.

In this new reality of social distancing, teachers don’t have good ways to give direct feedback on student performance. Many have scrambled together quick solutions, such as emailing or texting video files — which can lead to disorganization and extra stress that nobody needs right now.

With this in mind, we’ve quickly put together a solution. We call it “performances.”

This new feature, now available for our customers in the Teacher plan, lets your students upload performance audio/video so you can provide feedback.

Everything is integrated with the Soundslice private courses system, so you don’t need to email files around or do any other context-switching.

How does it work? We tried to make it as simple and streamlined as possible.

First, you enable performances for any one of your slices. It’s a new option in slice settings:

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Then, put this slice in a private course, if it’s not already in one.

From then on, any student in that course will see a “Performances” tab when viewing the slice. There, they can upload an audio/video file of themselves performing this piece of music.

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You, the teacher, will get an email notification whenever there’s a new performance. And you can post comments on a performance, to give specific feedback. Students can upload multiple performances, if they want to continue getting feedback.

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We’ve included a few different privacy settings for performances and their comments, to account for different ways teachers might want to use this. Performances can be visible to anybody in the course, or only to the teacher and student.

For more information on all of this, see our new help page about performances.

People have already been using this since we soft-launched it last week, and we’re grateful for the feedback we’ve gotten so far. Have feedback on it? Want us to tweak how it works? Let us know what you think — we want to make this as useful as possible, for both teachers and students.

Here’s an improvement for those of you creating Soundslice courses. We’ve changed file attachments so that they’re attached to courses instead of slices.

Previously, each slice in the slice manager had a “Manage file attachments” link next to it. This is where you could upload arbitrary files, such as PDFs, to make them available in any courses that slice was in.

But we found this was problematic — people assumed this was just a way to attach files to slices and didn’t realize they’d need to create a course as well. And some people creating courses would create “dummy slices” just for the purpose of adding file attachments to the course!

All in all, it was a confusing system. So here’s what we’ve changed:

  • You can now attach files to courses. When you edit a course, you’ll now see a “Files” tab, where you can upload and delete files.
  • The student view of a course has changed. Instead of the file attachments being displayed under each respective slice, they’re displayed at the bottom of the list of slices, in a dedicated “Course files” section.
  • For all file attachments in the old system that were attached to a slice that was in one or more courses, we’ve automatically moved those files to their corresponding course(s).
  • “Manage file attachments” is no longer available in the slice manager, except for a few users who had file uploads that hadn’t been assigned to any slices within courses. For these users, we’re going to reach out on a personal basis to ask what you’d like to do with those files.

We’re always keen to hear feedback from people creating courses, so please let us know what you think of the changes.

Here’s a wonderful change for those of you creating courses on our platform. We’ve massively improved the way you add slices to courses.

Previously, you’d have to select slices from a single dropdown of all the slices in your account. You could only do one at a time, so this was painful and took way too long. Not to mention the interface wasn’t up to our usual high design standards.

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Now, we’ve introduced a new interface that lets you select multiple slices at once, complete with a search box for quick filtering.

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This makes the process much faster!

Here’s a grab-bag of new features and fixes we’ve launched over the last few days:

Sorting in the slice manager

In your list of created slices, you can now change the sorting by clicking either the “Name” or “Date created” column headers:

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Previously there was no way to change the sorting. It was always sorted by date created, from newest to oldest.

Renaming recordings from a slice page

You can now rename recordings directly from a slice page. Click “Edit” at upper right to enter edit mode, then open the recordings menu. You’ll see a pencil icon next to each recording:

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Click that to rename the recording. Easy! Previously this was only doable from the slice manager, which required lots of clicks.

Surfacing courses on channel pages

If you have courses for sale on Soundslice, your channel will now have a “Courses” tab. Example here.

More

And some small improvements and fixes from the past few days:

  • For slices with really long titles, the layout of our player’s “controlbar” (the section with the play button) was slightly ugly/broken. That’s now fixed.
  • For search results in Soundslice Channels, clicking to subsequent pages (after the first page) didn’t actually work! That’s now fixed.
  • After you delete a course, you used to be redirected to the list of courses you’re a student in. You’re now redirected to the list of courses you’ve created.
  • When dragging over the waveform in the syncpoint editor, previously it was possible to make super-small loops — often by mistake/misclicking. Now we’re enforcing a minimum size for those loops, to prevent this.
  • In the syncpoint editor, clicking on a syncpoint now seeks the audio/video to the syncpoint’s timecode. Previously, clicking on a syncpoint (without dragging) did nothing.
  • Our notation editor’s “Add track” function now supports a couple of eight-string guitar tunings.
  • Our site no longer has a “More” menu in its main navigation. We decided it was too much clutter. All that stuff has been moved into a site footer.

Today we’ve reorganized where your courses are found on Soundslice. Our goal was to make a clearer separation between courses you’ve purchased from our store, courses you’ve created yourself, and private courses you’re a student in.

Previously, the “Your courses” page listed all your courses — both as a student and teacher. Now, that page lists only the courses you’re a student in. And the page is split into two sections (if appropriate) — “Courses from the store” and “Private courses” — which should make it easier to browse for those of you who have lots of courses.

Courses you’ve created are now in a separate section. Click our new “Create” link at the top of any Soundslice page to access all the stuff you’ve created on Soundslice: slices and courses. You’ll see navigation tabs that let you toggle between your slices and courses.

As part of this, we’ve also redesigned the page that lists your created courses to give you some additional information on each course — the number of slices and students. We’ve also redesigned the course-management page to look nicer.

Finally, we’ve added the ability for you to upload a photo for any of your created courses.

We hope these changes make things easier and clearer for those of you making courses!

As always, Soundslice has gotten lots of tasty new features and fixes lately. Here’s what’s new:

2017 NAMM Show

We’ll have a booth at this week’s NAMM Show in California. (Hall E, booth 1670.) If you’re coming to the convention, please drop by and see us — we love to meet our customers in person.

Auto-hiding of empty staves

Our player now automatically hides empty staves. If your Soundslice score has multiple tracks, and one of the tracks has no music in a given stave (row) of music, we’ll automatically hide that stave.

This makes for a much more efficient use of vertical space. You no longer have to scroll through meaningless empty staves for instruments that don’t contain any information.

If you embed Soundslice in your own site, you can disable this behavior with the new collapse_empty=0 URL parameter, documented here.

Smarter resizing

With music that contains many notes in a single bar — say, lots of 16th and 32nd notes — you may have noticed that the Soundslice player would automatically reduce the size of the notation, to make sure all the notes fit in the screen. Otherwise, the notes would overflow the width of your browser window.

This behavior was unintuitive, though. Several customers had emailed us, assuming it was a bug because they weren’t able to make the notation bigger.

Now, we have a better solution. If notation doesn’t fit in the current browser window, first we’ll try to “smoosh” the horizontal spacing in that bar, to put the notes closer to each other. If that works, then great — no need to auto-change the zoom level. But if the “smooshed” notes are too hard to read, then we’ll resort to the old way, zooming out.

Mobile-friendlier design

We’ve made many changes to many pages on our site to make things work and look better on mobile devices.

Of note, the score manager is much easier to use on smartphones, with more than a dozen usability improvements for touch devices and small screens.

Soundslice player

Our player keeps getting better:

  • Subtitles (if available) are now displayed on our player’s narrow view (i.e., when the video is above notation). Previously they were only displayed if the video was on the left of notation.
  • If you spend a long time in the Soundslice player without reloading, you might have run into a problem where the video stops working due to the URL expiring. This is now fixed — you can stay in the player as long as you’d like.
  • For touchscreen devices, we fixed a usability issue when using a two-finger swipe to zoom in/out. Sometimes this would inadvertently create a loop, depending on your exact finger movement.
  • We fixed a mobile usability issue in the Settings menu, where clicking on an audio source caused a shift in the UI.
  • The waveform display is now crisper on high-definition screens such as Apple Retina.
  • Our “Print” feature now uses a bigger font size. The printed music is much easier to read.
  • You can now disable the visual piano keyboard for any score that you own. Open track controls for the given instrument and uncheck the “Virtual keyboard” checkbox, then click Save.
  • We fixed a bug in our calculation of directions (Da Capo, Da Segno, etc.) that happened in some obscure cases.

Notation rendering

We polish our rendering engine on a nearly daily basis, so printing a whole list of recent changes would break the Internet. But here are the highlights:

  • Fingering now uses a more readable font. We also added several bits of magic to the automatic positioning algorithms to make the numbers more readable within staff lines.
  • Right-hand fingering (i.e., for guitar music) is now consistent with left-hand fingering.
  • Tempo markings now put the text before the metronome marking.
  • Ties now have better spacing for chords that contain the interval of a second.
  • Same goes for ties that continue on a new stave into a chord that contains the interval of a second.
  • We greatly improved the positioning of rests in multi-voice music.
  • Alternate endings now have a more unified look, using the same numeric typeface as time signatures.
  • Directions such as Da Capo now use a larger typeface.
  • Palm mute and “let ring” are now larger and have a nicer dashed line.
  • For slides into notes, the slide symbol no longer crashes into notes in chords that contain the interval of a second.
  • This was a “long time” coming: we now support breve notes (double-whole notes).

Score manager / course manager

  • You can now move folders! Nest them under another folder, move them to the top-level, etc.
  • Many pages in the score manager now feature “breadcrumbs” at the top of the page, for easier navigation.
  • After you make changes in the score manager, we used to redirect you to the main score manager index. Now, we redirect you to the folder/page you were previously on. Much nicer.
  • The score manager now has a “Clear notation” feature for each score. This will erase all notation in the score, in case you want to make it notationless.
  • The score manager now has a “Download audio” link for each audio recording. This lets you quickly download the MP3.
  • For courses, you can now add “Intro text for students” — optional text that’s displayed above the list of lessons.
  • For courses, we removed the ability to set a date for a lesson. Nobody was using that feature, and you can simply use the lesson notes or score title to insert a date.

Notation importing

  • We fixed a MusicXML importer bug with accidentals in non-standard tablature tunings.
  • We fixed a MusicXML importer bug with cross-staff beams containing chords.
  • We fixed our MusicXML importer to detect segnos and codas that we weren’t already detecting (MusicXML has several ways of coding them.)
  • We fixed our MusicXML importer to handle bad chord names as generated by Notion.
  • We improved our MusicXML importer to detect bad ties in tablature — where the first note in the tie has a different string than the second note in the tie.
  • Our MusicXML importer now detects a few other common ways that people specify metronome markings.
  • For percussion music, we improved our importer to use proper sounds in the cases where we weren’t already using proper sounds.

Embedding

  • You can use our new enable_print=0 URL parameter to disable printing for a score. Yes, you can already disable printing for a score in the score manager, but this gives you more flexibility. For example, one of our partners is using this to limit the number of times a score is printed by a given customer.
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