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Nonsequential syncpoints

For advanced situations, Soundslice supports nonsequential syncpoints — that is, the ability to arbitrarily move the playhead to any part of your notation at any point, completely disregarding the structure of the music.

This feature is designed for tutorial-style slices, in which an instructor repeatedly refers to specific moments of the music. Nonsequential syncpoints are not intended for syncing notation with performance recordings.

Example: Three approaches to the same lesson

To help you understand the concept of nonsequential syncpoints, we’ve taken a single lesson video and created slices using three different approaches.

In the video, the instructor performs a short musical idea, then spends a few minutes giving specific tips.

Version 1: Notated performance plus talking

This is the simplest possible way to create this slice. The performance is notated, and the commentary afterward is simply tacked onto the end of the notation as a commentary bar labeled “Thoughts on fingering.”

The main advantage of this approach is creation speed. It takes very little time for the slice creator to do this, using our editor.

The disadvantage of this approach is that it doesn’t live up to its educational potential (which you’ll see in the next two approaches).

Version 2: Detailed transcription

In this version, we’ve meticulously transcribed every note the instructor plays — even during the commentary.

The main advantage of this approach is its “over-communication.” The student never has to guess which notes are being played, because literally every note is notated! This flexibility also lets you finely customize parts of the notation — such as bar 5, in which we’ve added fingerings to the notation to underscore the fact that he’s discussing fingering.

Another advantage is clarity and ease of navigation. There’s a one-to-one mapping between the notation and the video. Every moment in the video corresponds to a distinct moment in the notation, and vice versa. The playhead moves consistently during playback, in a linear fashion.

But the disadvantage of this technique is — you guessed it — it’s a lot of work to create. You’d likely end up needing to copy and paste notation many times, and you’d need to decide how to subdivide and label the various speaking sections.

Version 3: Nonsequential syncpoints

In this version, the student sees only the primary notation. During the teacher commentary, the playhead is either entirely hidden or deliberately hovering over a specific section of the music.

The main advantage of this approach is that the commentary corresponds more strongly to the notation. When the instructor refers to some music, it’s crystal clear which part of the original performance he’s talking about.

Another advantage is that it’s much faster to create. Rather than needing to copy and paste notation (as in version 2), the slice creator merely needs to notate the piece once, then quickly create some nonsequential syncpoints.

A disadvantage is that there’s no longer a one-to-one mapping between notation and the video. See “Notes on the student experience” below for details.

Which version is best?

There’s no right answer. It depends on your educational style, your time constraints, and (to some extent) on your specific content.

The important thing is to have a good sense of what’s possible using our tools, so you can make the best decision for your situation.

How to create nonsequential syncpoints

Creating a slice with nonsequential syncpoints is easy, and it comes down to two concepts:

  • Any syncpoint can have any bar number.
  • The playhead can be hidden at any time.

When you add syncpoints, our system assumes you’re adding them sequentially — so each new syncpoint will use the next available bar number. But you can always double-click a syncpoint’s number and type in a different bar number (then hit Enter). It’s as easy as that!

The second piece of the puzzle is hiding the playhead (aka the cursor, the orange vertical line that moves over notation during playback). In a tutorial video, there are likely moments in which the playhead doesn’t need to be displayed.

To do this, create a syncpoint at the moment at which the playhead should be hidden. Then click the “...” button below the newly created syncpoint and click “Hide playhead starting here.”


The playhead will hence be hidden, starting at that syncpoint, until it reaches the next syncpoint.

Notes on the student experience

When viewing a slice that uses nonsequential syncpoints, generally you’re expected to press Play and sit back to watch the narration, as opposed to taking a more active role (seeking and looping, etc.).

You can still navigate by clicking the music or loop by dragging across the music, but a caveat applies. Because any given moment of the sheet music might be represented by more than one moment in the video, clicking on the music will always take you to the first moment of that music in the video.

For this reason, we recommend using our player’s progressbar (the horizontal line at the bottom of the player) for navigating these sorts of slices.