Saturday, June 7, 2008

Practicing over the Summer (Facebook uses)

School's out for us at Northern. (*sings the Alice Cooper song*)
Most teachers have gotten into the habit of assigning summer reading, juniors are starting senior projects, seniors are working their butts off to save up as much "spending money" as possible before heading off to college. This is all well and good, but how do music students stay fresh without a private instructor, weekly lessons, and daily orchestra rehearsals?
This is only a trial, but I created a closed Facebook group and invited all the string players I'm already "friended" with. I announced the group in class, as well as my hopes and expectations of it. So here, goes:

  • Discussions: I'll be checking in at least once a week (if not much more) and posing questions to think about, including music selection for next year, community performance opportunities, auditions (Districts!), artist reviews, etc.
  • Videos, Links, Photos: Find something relevant on YouTube, Flickr, or a blog? Post it! (I got one started; great video of Turtle Island String Quartet playing "On Green Dolphin Street".)
  • Network: Want to get together and play duets, trios, quartets? Practice District audition pieces together? Still excited about improvisation? Use the network to find a good time/place to meet and play together.
  • Challenges: This is all me. :-) I'll be posting weekly "challenges" which could be anything from "playing Happy Birthday in 3 keys" to "Compose an 8 measure groove and record it."

Of course, this entire Facebook thing is optional...for now. If it works to keep my musicians on their toes, I'll require it. My hopes, are that the students will enjoy it enough to want to be involved. If a shout-out on Facebook is the motivation necessary to get your instrument out of the closet, then it and I...have done our jobs.


  1. How did this work out?? I suspect the real challenge is how scattered and busy we (adults and students alike) become during the summer. But I'm really curious as to how this went. Also, do you think you'll continue this during the school year??

    Great idea!

  2. @Matt
    I'm planning on using the group throughout the year, even if it's just a posted reminder of what they should be working on.
    The true test will be in September, when I have the whole group together again. My biggest concern is making sure I don't play favorites, and students don't perceive (real or otherwise) favoritism between those "in the network" and those who aren't.
    They still seem excited and most check-in at least once a week.