Classroom Setup Guide
Using Synthesia in your classroom is a great way to help keep students motivated to practice. It's also easy to get things set up. We've tried our best to accommodate many different configurations ranging from the single piano in a private studio room to the full classroom lab. Depending on your scenario, there are some helpful tips on this page that will help you get the most out of your Synthesia installation.
Download and run this once on each of your computers to unlock Synthesia for all users:
Mac users: use the "Run As Admin" script so the installer can write to the system-wide location.
Set up one "template" computer firstNo matter how many machines in your room, this step applies to everyone. The first step is to get Synthesia installed and configured the way you'd like it to appear on all of your computers.
- Download the latest version of Synthesia and install it on your "template" computer.
- From the Songs section in Settings, add any paths you plan to use for your MIDI songs/assignments. The best is a network location that is accessible by all the computers in the lab.
- From the Music Devices section in Settings enable the keyboard connected to that computer for input and output. While enabling input, be sure to press the lowest and highest keys on the keyboard to inform Synthesia how many keys the keyboard has.
- This is also a good time to do any other customization like adding your own shortcuts or changing the color theme.
- If you'll just be using Synthesia in a generic single-user way, leaving things set to the anonymous profile is fine. Or, if you know your entire student list up front, you could create profiles for each right now.
- Close Synthesia.
Decide which settings (if any) you'd like to "lock" across all computers
To give a little background: Synthesia stores all its settings in the local user's storage space. In a network login environment, this means that a particular student's settings, scores, and play statistics will follow them around automatically like you might expect. Unfortunately, it also means that when that student starts Synthesia for the first time, to Synthesia it will appear that is the first time it has ever been run. That is, all those things you set up in the first step would need to be set up again (once for every student)!
So, this step is important when students have individual sign-on passwords and their own account that follows them to any computer they use. Even if the lab computer has a shared login, this step is still helpful in providing a consistent environment from session to session.
Here is the idea: Synthesia has a built-in feature to help prevent one student's changes to Synthesia's settings from impacting other students. Another way to look at how this operates is that the template settings you made in the first step can replace whatever is currently there, each time Synthesia starts up.
Not only is this useful for maintaining settings in case of accidental changes (like song folder paths), automatically replicating settings to each user's account, but it can also be used in other interesting ways. One common request in smaller one-computer scenarios is that for simplicity's sake, the instructor would prefer to simply have all performance data wiped out each time Synthesia starts. This is so they can rapidly switch between students. This same feature provides this capability as well!
The way this works is by copying some of Synthesia's just-created, clean data files from the template computer to a special system-wide location on all of the other lab computers. This is where you get to pick and choose which files make the most sense for your setup.
- (Recommended) settings: Contains the options from the Gameplay, Advanced, and Color Theme tabs in the Settings screen.
- (Recommended) folders: Contains the folders Synthesia scans for songs.
- (Recommended) bindings: Contains any custom shortcuts that you created on the template computer.
- (Recommended) multiDevice: Contains your music device settings (keyboard and music output). As long as you're using the same keyboard (and adapters) throughout the room, copying this to each computer will save you from having to re-setup the keyboard on each computer (and prevent that setup from being tampered with). If the whole room isn't totally uniform, copying this might make things trickier.
- (It depends) scores, songProgressCache: Copying these to the system location will wipe all scores out each time Synthesia starts. If this makes sense for your room, definitely include this in your distribution.
- (It depends) users: Contains the list of user profiles (if any) you created on the template computer. Including this will reset Synthesia to exactly this list each time it starts.
- (Not recommended) bookmarks, fingers, songInfo, tracks: Each of these store metadata that is better shared using the metadata editor.
Copy those to the special system-wide settings location on each lab computer
Now we can duplicate (and enforce!) your template settings throughout the room. To do this, it's as simple as copying the settings you identified above to the special system-wide location on each lab computer.
First, locate the template computer's data files:
On Windows: from a "Run..." dialog (Windows Key + R), type "shell:appdata\Synthesia"
On Mac: In Finder, choose Go -> "Go to Folder..." from the pull-down menu, then type "~/Library/Application Support/Synthesia"
The folder that opens should contain the XML files mentioned above. Copy each of the files you identified earlier to a network location or USB flash drive that will be accessible from each lab computer. The procedure for each lab computer should be as simple as:
- Install Synthesia the usual way.
- Locate the system-wide Synthesia folder. (This was created during the Essential Setup step at the top of this page).
On Windows: C:\ProgramData\Synthesia
On Mac: /Library/Application Support/Synthesia (Note there is no '~' this time!)
- Copy the template data files from the network path or flash drive to the special system-wide path.
That's it! Now those settings will be standardized across each computer.