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Posts tagged with “Teacher accounts”

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?

Screenshot

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:

Screenshot

“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:

Animation

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:

Screenshot

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:

Screenshot

(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!

Screenshot

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:

Screenshot

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).

We’ve added the ability to have comment threads within any Soundslice course! This applies to both private courses and for-sale courses.

If you’ve created a course on our platform, you’ll now see an “Allow comments on slices in this course” checkbox in your course settings. Just check that box, save changes, and you’re done.

Screenshot

The box is unchecked by default, so course owners need to opt into it.

For a course with comments enabled, each slice in the course will have a “Comments” tab in its left sidebar. Comments are visible to anybody who has access to the course. Here’s what it looks like:

Screenshot

If a particular slice is in multiple courses, comment threads are kept distinct with respect to the course. This is handy, for example, if you’re a teacher who reuses slices with different students (using separate courses). Each course’s “version” of that slice will get a separate, isolated comment thread.

As with comments on your public channel, you’ll get a notification each time there’s a new comment — on your notifications page and via email (if you’ve got email notifications enabled). And comment threads support one level of nesting, which makes it easy to manage responses and organize/follow a conversation.

If you’ve purchased a Soundslice course from our store, you’ll be able to start commenting within them on Monday. We’ve contacted all of our store artists to let them know this is coming, so they have a chance to opt out of it before then if they’d like.

We hope this helps faciliate useful conversations between teachers and students — and among students themselves. Enjoy!

Here are various improvements we’ve made to Soundslice over the last month or so.

New “Add recording” screen

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We redesigned our editor’s “Add recording” screen. It now has a nicer design and gives more appropriate weight/context for the various options.

New sidebar toggle design

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We redesigned the little arrow button that lets you toggle the sidebar when viewing a slice. Previously, when the sidebar was closed, the arrow would jump all the way to the bottom of the page. Now it’s in a more consistent and obvious location.

Clickable instrument names

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Those instrument names at the left of your music? They’re now clickable. If you click them, we’ll open the Settings menu and highlight where you can change visibility.

Better default beaming

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We changed our default beaming for 4/4 time. Previously, beams would break on each beat; now they only break at the middle of the bar. Thanks to YouTube sensation Rick Beato for the suggestion.

Grace notes without slashes

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Our editor now lets you create grace notes that don’t have a slash through their stem (appoggiaturas). Previously we only supported grace notes with a slash. We’ve also improved our MusicXML importer to detect this for all files uploaded from now on.

Use our handy editor search to find this feature.

Descriptions in course slices

When viewing a slice in a course, we now display the slice’s description (if available) in the left sidebar. Previously the description was only displayed on the main course page. It’s much nicer to have access to that when viewing the slice!

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:

Screenshot

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.

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