Music Teacher's Helper Blog

Finding Ways to Communicate: Fitting Your Audience’s Style

I have a voice student who only communicates effectively through her MySpace account. Emails and phone calls don’t work when trying to reach her.

One student communicates solely through text messages. Her mother I can ONLY contact through land-line (no email, text, cell phone messages – although she has that capability).

When I was in college (early 1990’s!), I would try to call home and the line would be busy – my mother was on the internet! So, I’d send her an email and 5 minutes later, I’d get a phone call. When I graduated for college, one of the running jokes was that we were going to grad school so that we could continue to have an email account (hotmail was JUST in its infancy, Windows 3.0 had just come out and Gmail wasn’t even a thought in Google’s nonexistent eye).


Nowadays we have SO many options to reach one another that frequently we are communicating TO other people rather than WITH others. Blogs (like this one, for instance) often tend to talk a lot without having conversations. I am trying to raise my “presence” as a blogger so as to increase my conversations, but don’t want to monetize the blog. I just want to communicate with more people! So, it’s a slow process.

Communication, though, is KEY! Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, FriendFeed, Google, Delicious) allows you to share and network information throughout your “friend network.”

I use Twitter (via Seesmic Desktop – which integrates my Facebook updates) to find cool information. I’ve found some really amazing people out there who have worthwhile information. I started by following a few really interesting people I’d run across while doing web searches (it started with Chris Foley at The Collaborative Piano Blog). Then, I went through who THEY were following and followed them too. Chris Brogan is the social media guru I ran across through Chris Foley (I’ve subscribed to both of their email RSS feeds for almost 2 years now). Between the two of them, I’m covering a large portion of musicians and social media information. Through this method, I now have over 1000 followers on Twitter (which I’ve only seriously been using since March 2009) and am “following” over 1000. It’s not easy keeping up, so I don’t try to follow everyone.

With Seesmic Desktop, I can do a search for my favorite “tweeple.” I then keep those searches at the side and can pull them out at any time to view what they’ve been saying recently. I also go through my stream at least once daily. I then use an application called TweetLater to send out interesting links that I’ve found at spaced out intervals (I’ll sit down at Twitter for about 20 minutes, but send out links that post on my schedule – I choose about 1 per hr throughout the day). Seesmic then lets me know if/when someone responds to my tweet.

I use Google Reader to follow a bunch of blogs (I have 64) via its RSS Feed Reader (most blogs make it really easy to subscribe). Some blogs inundate me with information (Mashable posts approximately 20-40 per day) and so I cull through those, often just marking them all as read without actually reading them – but I continue to subscribe because I DO find useful information in them. Others, I read everything (like Susan Eichhorn Young’s “Once More with Feeling” – and I’ve developed a relationship with her on Facebook, as a result of my reading her blog). If I like a post, I just use the keystroke shift-S and from Google Reader into FriendFeed, I can share this information with my Facebook, Twitter and FriendFeed friends with just that one key-stroke.

I try to share information that I’ve found more than I just post about me. When people comment on my blog (either at or my contributions at, I always try to comment back. When I get a direct message or an @reply in Twitter, I again try to respond. It’s all about the sharing and communication BETWEEN people. I have found that I LOVE Twitter – there are so many interesting things out there on the web and I do not have the time to find them all. That’s where my following people on Twitter comes in. They do the work, and I share the information via re-tweets! I don’t actually post a whole lot of my own stuff – I feel as if I’m a bit of an information filter. I hope that those following me do so because they find me interesting. So, I re-tweet what I find interesting.

When it comes to my students, I try to communicate where they’re at – be it Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, text message, email or telephone. Some parents communicate in extremely different ways than their children. MY JOB is to make sure that I am communicating with them all in an effective way.

So, communicate with others in your field. Communicate with those NOT in your field! Communicate with your students (your clients, whomever) in their preferred manner. This all means that YOU need to communicate across many platforms and be willing to change in order to talk with certain people – I like email for one-on-one, but sometimes it doesn’t work for those with whom I am sharing information. So, I am trying to communicate with everyone. Sometimes things slip through the cracks & it might take a bit for me to catch up. Thanks to my tools (mostly Seesmic Desktop and Facebook for Blackberry) I can get caught up relatively quickly. Yes, it does take time, but building and fostering any relationship takes time.

How do YOU communicate? What have you found works best for you? Do you use any of these tools? Which ones? Which different tools do you use?

About the Author

Rachel Velarde
I began my music career in Bloomington, Indiana. After receiving my B.A. in Music from Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, I earned two Master of Music degrees at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona. Luminaries I have worked with include Vernon Hartman, James Caraher, Lorenzo Malfatti, Shirlee Emmons, Mary Sue Hyatt, John Sikora, David Jones, David Britton, and Carol Smith.

I offer ... [Read more]

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