COLUMBIA — Thanks to a new grant, nearly 1,800 Columbia band students will get some feedback this school year — from a computer.
The new technology, called SmartMusic, is funded by a grant from the Columbia Public Schools Foundation, and is one of five grants awarded by the foundation to the school district this summer.
- Fourth Grade Missouri State Capitol Field Trips: $6,663.60 — A trip to the Capitol for fourth-graders from all 19 elementary schools in Columbia.
MAC (Minority Achievement Committee) Scholars First Annual Achievement Gap Conference: Failure is NOT an Option: $2,500 — MAC scholars in all of Columbia's secondary schools will sponsor the first student-run conference.
SMART Boards for Elementary Art and Music Classrooms: $12,529 — SMART Board technology for elementary art and music classrooms.
SmartMusic Technology — Student Performance Assessment in the Secondary Instrumental Music Classroom: $22,868.25 — Interactive music technology will provide almost 1,800 band students with instant feedback on individual performances.
Summer Expedition: $1,880 — A summer school program for students with financial needs or minority backgrounds.
The foundation hosted a reception and ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday where a total of $46,170.85 in grants for various projects was awarded to schools in the district.
The grants will benefit “every single school in the district,” said Patti Coffelt, speaker at the ribbon cutting and president of Columbia Public Schools Foundation.
The foundation awarded $22,868.25 specifically for the SmartMusic technology, an interactive computer program that provides feedback for students when they play for the computer.
Grant money was also granted for field trips, new technology and summer school programs, among other projects.
Sally Silvers, of the Columbia Public Schools Foundation, said the committee that chooses the grant applications looks for programs that will affect the most students.
“We can say we have touched every elementary school in Columbia Public Schools,” Silvers said, using the fourth-grade field trip as an example. The fourth-grade classes have always ended their studies with a field trip to the state Capitol, and they were able to go again this year despite money being tight, Silvers said.
Silvers said teachers made a request earlier in the year for emergency grants for the field trip. Even though the money was officially awarded today, the fourth-grade classes were able to use the money for their May trip.
“We felt it was an important enough thing that has been going on in this school district for so many years that we would fund it,” she said. None of the projects happening this year would have been possible without the money, she said.
Silvers also said the foundation was intrigued by the SmartMusic technology and was eager to benefit the fine arts program.
“Fine arts always gets chopped,” Silvers said. Fine arts grants are rarely submitted, she said.
With the new SmartMusic program, band students can practice before or after school and during free periods and band directors don't have to be there with them, said Steve Mathews, director of bands at Rock Bridge High School.
“It almost becomes like a second teacher,” Mathews said of the SmartMusic program. Students can play something for the computer and get feedback on missed notes or faulty rhythms, he said.
"Plus, kids love technology," he said.
SmartMusic will make its way into the band rooms of Columbia’s secondary schools during the coming school year.