Indian River Musicians Practice Alone -- With Accompaniment

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Even though it sounds like the band's in full swing, it's just one drummer alone in a classroom for his 10th period music lesson.

He's using a program called SmartMusic that lets students play with a band -- even when they're alone.

Every student in high school band at Indian River has access to the program, both at school and at home.

"As a musician, you really need to listen to the entire band as you play and if you play well by yourself, that's all good and well, but if you can't hear the other band, you still might be off and not even know it," said band student Katie Emberton.

Indian River purchased subscriptions to the program for 90 students for about $30 each.

It's a small investment for the amount of time band director Charles Heck can now give each student.

"You can communicate back and forth without the student being right there," Heck said, "so if they submit something from home, I actually can listen to it and grade it."

And with the spring concert still two months away, Heck is surprised at how fast students are now learning music.

"Being the middle of February, I thought that we would be at a certain place by now and unfortunately -- or fortunately, depending on how you look at it -- I mean, these kids are ready to play some of this music already," he said, "so I have to find some more music."

It's a problem many band directors wish they had.

Saturday, August 23, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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