Posts tagged with “Teacher accounts”
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:
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.
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.
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.
Now, we’ve introduced a new interface that lets you select multiple slices at once, complete with a search box for quick filtering.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
Here’s the latest rundown of Soundslice improvements:
Every score now has a “Waveform” view, which shows you a waveform of the audio/video. To activate it, open the “Visualizations” menu when you’re looking at a score, and select Waveform. (It’s the same menu that has the fretboard and keyboard views — formerly known as the “Instruments” menu.)
The waveform is useful for visual navigation of your audio. You can click anywhere in the waveform to seek to that moment in the audio, and you can drag across the waveform to create a loopable area. Zoom in/out with the icons at right. If you’ve used our syncpoint editor, this will look familiar. :-)
Note that waveform data isn’t always available. We might not have waveform data for a recording if its type is “Video URL.” And we don’t display waveforms if you use our synthetic audio player. Otherwise, all new Soundslice scores should have it automatically. Feel free to play with it in our example score.
If you license Soundslice to embed it in your own site, you can disable the waveform view with the new
enable_waveform=0 URL parameter.
Better video uploading
For those of you who upload video files directly to Soundslice: we now accept many more video formats, and we transcode to the appropriate web-friendly format automatically. Previously, we only supported MP4 uploads. Much better now!
- Our video player no longer assumes videos use a 16/9 aspect ratio. So, if you have a square video, or a vertical video, our player will use space more effectively, without letterboxing.
- You can now create scores with multiple recordings in which each recording is actually the same video. For example, say you have a video where you perform a piece of music three times, at three different speeds. Now, you can create a separate Soundslice recording for each snippet in that video — just pointing at a different timecode in it.
- If you change the volume of a track in our synth player, you now have the option of saving that volume. Just click the Save button that appears.
- A bit of intelligence: If your score has a “Da Capo” in it, and the score starts with commentary bars, the “Da Capo” will jump back to the first non-commentary bar, rather than jumping to the commentary bars.
- For pickup bars with triplet feel active, the rhythmic “ticks” (e.g., for our metronome sound) are now in the proper places. Previously we naively counted from the start of the bar, despite pickup bars having an abnormal rhythmic width.
- We increased the amount of space between notation and video, in the case when the video is displayed above notation. Previously it was slightly too cramped.
- We fixed the “Bar X of Y” display in the control bar to use 0 instead of -1 for empty scores.
- We improved our chord-only view to always display a chord name in the first beat of a bar, even if it doesn’t explicitly have a chord set. Previously, bars would be empty if their chord hadn’t changed from the previous bar.
- I thought I’d never live to see this day... Apple’s newest version of iOS (version 10) no longer forces full-screen video in iPhones! That means Soundslice videos work properly on the iPhone, in iOS 10 at least.
- When we’re not working on Soundslice, our free-time hobby is to make performance improvements to Soundslice. Lots of nice improvements lately: smaller memory use and faster rendering.
- We improved fingering rendering to prefer a “fingering next to noteheads” approach instead of “fingering stacked above/below notes” approach, in case of chords with three or more notes.
- We fixed a rendering bug where vibrato marks clashed with bends in tied notes if the tie-ending note has no bend and is in a separate bar. Got that?
- We fixed a rendering bug with dotted notes at the start of a stave that continue a tie from the previous stave.
- We now support arpeggio markings in staff notation. Previously we only rendered them in tablature. If your score had arpeggio data, it’ll now display the markings (no need to re-upload your notation).
- We fixed a rendering bug with bass-clef tracks that have lyrics.
- For tuplets over beamed notes, we now break secondary beams at the tuplet edges. Looks much better and it’s easier to read.
- We fixed a rendering bug with tempo markings that start in the middle of a bar.
- We changed the rendering of “dead” notes to use distinct notehead glyphs for whole notes vs. half notes vs. quarter notes.
- It finally had to happen. We added support for 128th and 256th notes and rests.
Score manager / course manager
- You can now rename folders. Just click the icon next to the folder name, when you’re viewing the folder’s contents.
- Search results now display each score’s folder, for context.
- Our notation-upload page now supports drag-and-drop. Just drag your notation file onto the page.
- “Move to folder” now works properly in Internet Explorer.
- When you’re looking at search results and move a score to a different folder, we no longer remove the score from the search results. That was rather unsettling behavior.
- You can now reorder lessons in courses! Just go to the course page (assuming you own the course) and click the arrows.
- There’s now a single “Your courses” page that lists all the courses you’ve created or are a student in.
- The default user avatar is no longer a guitar. There is no longer a vast Soundslice conspiracy to get everybody playing guitar. We like all kinds of music!
- We now support TuxGuitar notation files (.tg) natively.
- If you try uploading a raw Finale, Sibelius or MuseScore file, we’ll now detect that and will give you a friendly error message.
- For instruments with tablature, our MusicXML importer now supports notes in the staff that don’t have a corresponding tab note. Previously this resulted in some weird behavior.
- Our MusicXML importer now removes garbage such as square brackets from track names. For example, a track called “[Bass clarinet]” will now come in as “Bass clarinet” (without the brackets).
- Turns out lots of people like to enter text as “lyrics” in Finale and Sibelius despite the text not actually being lyrics. Maybe it’s a UI problem in those notation programs, or people just like the look of the lyrics display. Anyway, we’re now much smarter about this. Previously, we would treat this text as lyrics, but now we do some heuristics and treat text as “normal text” instead of lyrics, if it doesn’t actually appear to be lyrics.
- We improved the MusicXML importer to automatically transpose tracks with tablature for MusicXML files that don’t include transposition information — such as Sibelius. For example, guitar tracks from Sibelius now are correctly transposed despite Sibelius deciding not to tell us about the transposition.
- Our MusicXML importer no longer assumes voice names are integers — hence we now support multi-voice notation as generated by some more obscure notation programs.
- For MusicXML generated by Notion, we fixed a bug with accidentals in tablature tracks.
Several of our teacher customers have asked us for the ability to upload extra files — such as PDFs — along with their Soundslice scores, to keep all their student materials in one place. Today we launched this new feature!
Here’s how it works...
First, in the score manager, find the score you want to upload extra files to. Hover over its name and click the file icon (“Manage file uploads”).
You’ll reach the file-upload page for this score. On this page, you can upload one or more files. You can also delete files you don’t want to make available anymore.
Once you’ve uploaded a file, it will be instantly available in any course the score is in. Students viewing the course page will see the file link(s) just below the score name. Here’s an example:
That’s it! Simple. This new file-upload feature is available now, for all paying Soundslice For Teachers customers.
With more and more people making Soundslice video-lesson courses, we figured we’d start documenting the best practices.
Check out our new page: Optimizing your video lessons for Soundslice. It goes into details on how you can best take advantage of our player for your lessons.
Note that it’s intended primarily for people who are creating new video lessons for Soundslice, as opposed to people who are adding Soundslice to existing videos. But even if you fall into the latter category, you might get a few ideas from it.
Huge news for us today. We’re proud to announce Soundslice For Teachers, which lets you create and share interactive sheet music yourself. Upload notation, sync up audio/video, share with students, embed it on your own site and more.
Soundslice For Teachers costs $20/month or $200/year. You can try it free for 15 days, with no credit card required.
We’ve been testing this with students for months, and the response has been fantastic. You can access a demo course here — enter the code
demo and you’ll get a handful of interactive lessons for various instruments.
If you’re a music teacher, regardless of instrument, give it a shot and tell us what you think. And if you know any music teachers or bloggers, please spread the word!
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