communication

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).

via www.telephoneart.com

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. [···]

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As the time comes closer for teachers around the world to organize a Christmas or seasonal recital, it becomes imperative to have a strategy or plan in place.  In most cases, students look forward to their recitals, but the responsibility is on the teachers to make it the most enjoyable experience possible.  Over the next few weeks, I will be addressing several issues and giving suggestions.  I am open to comments, ideas, and requests for articles.

A few examples from my own studio…
We hold recitals 2x/year – one a few weeks before Christmas and another in the spring.  Both are required of all students and are a great way to inspire and motivate… everyone looks forward to it!
I make sure reminders are periodically sent by email or posted on my website for all families to see.

Communication is key.  About 2 weeks before the recital, I send a detailed explanation of what to expect, what to bring, and where to be.  ?

I started having students write a short autobiography to be printed in the program.  Some students draw, paint, or color themed pictures to be included on the cover or inside as original “clipart”.

Students are expected to arrive a minimum of 15 minutes early… to avoid the stress of “running late” and making it much easier on their teacher!  ?  They are required to bring their music – in my studio, students are not required to memorize their pieces (for various reasons to be covered later).  The families also bring a dish or dessert to share afterwards during the reception time.

After the performances, we have awards – I give each student a certificate for performing and another for participating in games online at www.musiclearningcommunity.com and another for student of the month awards (covering the months since our last recital).  Students also receive the certificates from the back of the method books they have passed or any exams passed.  The entire awards ceremony lasts from 5-15 minutes for 30 students.  They love the recognition of their hard work!

Employing volunteer parents to help with set-up and cleanup has lessened the load on my shoulders and is always greatly appreciated!  My family has been a wonderful help as well.

Prior to the recital, be sure to establish…

  • what the students should do upon arriving (check in with you, find a seat, do an activity)
  • where the students will be sitting (as a group or with parents)
  • who is invited to attend (family, friends, etc)… are invitations provided?
  • the cost & when it is due (students, attendees, etc) to cover the costs of rental, use of facilities, any other expenses related to the event
  • media (pictures, video, cell phones)… how do you wish to handle it? (when can pictures be taken?  Are families encouraged to take video and if so, where should they stand or sit as to be the least distracting?)
  • dress code (is this a casual or formal recital?)… what is acceptable and not?
  • volunteers for certain tasks

Suggested To-Do List…

  • Make Programs a day or two before the recital, but not too far in advance or changes will be inevitable and cause unnecessary frustration and stress
  • Make invitations for students – they love ones themed with pianos and music notes!  🙂
  • Verify venue and time – to avoid last minute surprises

These are all technical aspects of a recital, but more to come include…

  • how to deal with stage fright
  • ways to motivate and inspire through recitals… and when to give gifts to your students
  • ways to order students in a program… who goes first?  who finishes up?
  • recital themes
  • reasons for students sitting with parents vs. sitting as a group (I’ve tried both)
  • whether or not to hold any sort of rehearsal before-hand
  • recital etiquette
  • finding a booking a venue/location
  • establishing a day and time
  • refreshments
  • how to put together a program
  • copyright issues in media (making of DVDs or CDs)… recording and copying

Have a wonderful recital and remember to enjoy every moment.  Never forget the amazing memories you are creating in the lives of each of your students and the responsibility we all have to do everything in excellence.  Enjoy!

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