Thanks for posting. SmartMusic microphones are required for technical assistance from our support staff; this is unchanged from previous versions of the software. However, SmartMusic will not block other microphones from being used, so if your student is running into an issue there may be a problem with their microphone or the way the computer is configured for sound input.
We hear varying results from customers using 3rd party microphones, and they are not recommended.
If the student is unable to get their microphone to work with our online resources, then we would recommend purchasing a SmartMusic microphone.