Hal Leonard and Muse Group officially launch MuseClass

News

Today Hal Leonard and Muse Group officially launched MuseClass, a music education-focused product featuring an automated assessment tool called AutoGrade. This marks the first major software release by the combined company since the acquisition of Hal Leonard by Muse Group in December 2023.

MuseClass is designed for use with grades 6-12 in a US music education environment where performance ensembles are run as classes, and provides tools aiming to make it easy for teachers to create and grade assignments. Like other products designed for use in the classroom, MuseClass is compliant with US regulations around the privacy of student data.

For this first school year, through August 1, 2025, MuseClass is free for all schools. Muse Group said that the service “will continue to be developed with close feedback from music educators.” Subscriptions will begin in August 2025, and will continue to be free for teachers; the cost annually per student will be $15.99. Customized offerings will be available for school districts.

MuseClass

Teacher web site

Teachers create assignments using the MuseClass website and students practice and submit assignments via the MuseClass mobile app which is compatible with iOS, Android and Chromebook.  This structure can sometimes cause confusion at first with students trying to sign up for an account on the website, or teachers trying to set up classes via the mobile app, but the sign up screens go out of their way to make sure teachers and students know they are in the right place.

Once signed up, teachers can begin setting up classes and inviting students to join.

Viewing classes in the MuseClass teacher site

Once a class is created, teachers can quickly create different types of assignments for their students which include video, audio, worksheets and, most notably, AutoGrade which will be explored further below.

Creating assignments in the MuseClass teacher site

Catalog

MuseClass tries to replicate a school’s physical music library experience as the way to conceptualize content made available to a class. Teachers can search the Music Catalog section of MuseClass where they can find a variety of method books, ensemble pieces, etudes and exercises.

The music catalog in MuseClass

A free selection can be added to the the organization library showing content you have purchased as well as any content purchased by another member of the organization.  Once you add a selection to your library, you can now add it to a class library from the organization library. The class library is the content made available by the teacher for viewing by students in the class.

A class library in MuseClass showing pieces available for use in a class.

Student mobile app

The design of MuseClass allows for use of the app for students even when offline and meets most students on their preferred device: their phone. The MuseClass student app is compatible on all iOS and Android devices, as well as Chromebooks — which are often issued by a school to all students — so no student is left out of having access.

The app design is clean and not overcrowded. It features two sections: Assignments and Music Folder.

Assignments 

Once students join a class by entering a class specific code, they can see assignments from any classes they are enrolled in here. Students can easily see what is due, what has been submitted but not graded yet, and the final grade given by the teacher. Students can add comments to assignments and get feedback directly from the teacher here as well.

Viewing assignments in the MuseClass student app

Music Folder

Like the library section on the teacher side mimicking an actual school music library, the music folder portion of the app is meant to mimic the physical folder containing sheet music used by students.  Here students can access pieces and practice them without it being tied to a specific assignment.

AutoGrade

AutoGrade functionality is found only in the student mobile app, but teachers can see results once submitted, as well as hear the original audio performed. The technology for AutoGrade has been in making for several years, and uses machine-learning, as opposed to a fixed algorithm, to assess player performance. This means the technology can continue to improve over time as it learns subtleties of how to assess the performance of different instruments.

Ultimate Guitar, another product owned by Muse Group, implemented the technology into their practice mode tool earlier this year — following on from StaffPad’s Piano Capture feature, also with machine learning listening, introduced in late 2023. Leveraging that technology, AutoGrade supports both monophonic and polyphonic instruments in MuseClass.  You can pinch to zoom in and out nicely to fit the music to your liking on the screen. In the testing I did, the app succeed in picking up on wrong notes (shown in purple) and wrong rhythms (shown in red).

AutoGrade in MuseClass

Students receive a score on their performance, and can decide whether or not to save the take before picking their favorite take to submit as the assignment. Teachers can control the number of takes as part of the assignment criteria.

MuseClass is quite new compared to its competition, and does not yet support direct MusicXML import on the teacher site. It does, however, support MuseScore Studio files. Using this workflow, you can import MusicXML into MuseScore Studio and create your own exercises for use with AutoGrade from there, or quickly spin up an assignment in MuseScore Studio for use with MuseClass.

Compared to other services in the auto-assessment space, a couple of MuseClass’s shortcomings are that you can not currently use AutoGrade along with backing tracks, and non-pitched percussion is not yet supported in this initial release. Muse Group has said that these items are on their “short list to support over the coming months.”

Competition in the music education space

Notation software companies have always eyed schools as an important source for a new generation of users. MuseScore Studio, being free, is already widely used by younger musicians, but seeing a presence of Muse Group in a school environment is likely to further solidify this connection.

For readers not working in a music education classroom environment, here is a quick overview of some of the players in this space.

MakeMusic

When Alfred was acquired by Peaksware, the parent company of MakeMusic, in 2016, it was the first of its kind combination of products under one roof.  With this acquisition, Peaksware owned a widely used professional notation software product with Finale; a publishing company with Alfred; and the top assessment tool used in music education with SmartMusic (now branded as MakeMusic Cloud).

This suite of companies resulted in a MakeMusic Cloud subscription getting major increase of Alfred content. Subsequent exclusive deals with popular educational publishers and composers have helped MakeMusic Cloud grow its catalog even further, while staking out a competitive “first-mover” edge.

Muse Group’s acquisition of Hal Leonard in December 2023 puts the combined company in a similar position as Peaksware. With MuseScore Studio, Hal Leonard, and two education focused products (MuseClass and Noteflight) each offering assessment technology, Muse Group is poised to become a significant competitor in this market.

MusicFirst

MusicFirst offers educators the unique opportunity to bundle a mix of in-house and 3rd party created software into a one-stop solution for music education tech tools.  PracticeFirst is an in-house created assessment tool that offers assessment on a wide variety of music from popular education publishers, including those with whom there is no exclusive agreement in place with MakeMusic Cloud, such as GIA, Kjos, and Excelcia.

MusicFirst bundles software from other companies as well including Noteflight, Flat, Sight Reading Factory, and Soundtrap, to name a few.

MusicFirst is different than MuseClass and MakeMusic Cloud in that it is not owned by another publisher or larger software company. It is an independent service helping educators curate a mix a software to fit the needs of a school’s specific music curriculum.

Noteflight

Hal Leonard has owned the popular web based notation company Noteflight for over a decade — since February 2014 — and has also supplied it with a significant amount of content. Noteflight, as an online notation product designed mostly for education purposes, is a very different product than both MuseClass and MuseScore Studio, but there is also plenty of overlap.

It’s too early to say how Noteflight and MuseClass will potentially work together, but it’s important to note that, at least for now, MuseClass is not a replacement of Noteflight, as Noteflight has a dedicated following of users in its own right.

In 2020, Noteflight partnered with MatchMySound to offer assessment as an add-on feature with Noteflight. MatchMySound is owned by Accelerando, and it powers a variety of audio assessment services including Fender Play’s Feedback Mode and MusicFirst’s PracticeFirst, both of which compete with some elements of Muse Group’s own products.

Speculating on the future of the relationship between Noteflight and MuseClass is difficult, but it’s conceivable to imagine that Noteflight’s assessment functionality could move or merge with Muse Group’s AutoGrade at some point.

Content

Muse Group has had aspirations to enter the education market for quite some time, even launching a prototype for MuseClass in 2020 before pausing development on it last year in preparation for acquiring Hal Leonard. The formal launch of MuseClass today is notable, not only because of the technology, but because of the content it now represents. MuseClass includes a significant amount of the Hal Leonard catalog both in the form of the famed Essential Elements series, and with a number of ensemble music for concert band, orchestra and jazz band.

MuseClass includes access to content from some other educational publishers beyond Hal Leonard who are not in any exclusive contract with MakeMusic Cloud. Muse Group said that the content library will be expanding further in time for the 2024 school year, with more Hal Leonard titles.

The content is targeted for use with middle and high school students, but Muse Group has plans to launch a service for K-5 educators called MuseClass Primary in the future that would be positioned to address the needs of younger music students.

Availability and pricing

For this first school year, through August 1, 2025, MuseClass is free for all schools. Muse Group said that the service “will continue to be developed with close feedback from music educators.” Subscriptions will begin in August 2025, and will continue to be free for teachers; the cost annually per student will be $15.99. Customized offerings will be available for school districts. Teachers can sign up at museclass.com and invite students to join their class from there.

It’s important to note that, like other institutional education applications, MuseClass is most effectively used with teachers as members of the same school. For this reason, it’s recommended to have an administrator set up an account for the school, and invite teachers to join.

MuseClass is currently only available to schools based in the United States, but, in a press release, said that MuseClass software for regions outside the US is “coming soon”.

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