Developing a Social Media Identity for Classical Musicians

In our book, iPractice: Technology in the 21st Century Music Practice Room, Chapter 5 is devoted to discussing the benefits of utilizing social media to increase motivation and decrease students’ practice isolation (see more about the book). We explore ways of harnessing social media (e.g., Instagram, Facebook) to help students become better musicians through virtual interactions with their peers by sharing musical selfies, creating practice stories and virtual practice partners.

The focus of this part of the iPractice book is on improving student practice through the use of social media — we give very practical suggestions!

What goes beyond the scope of the book is developing a social media presence for professional and semi-professional musicians and music teachers – specifically classical musicians.

I’ve spent a lot of time on developing a social media identity mainly because of my photography hobby. Social media is ingrained into photography in a way that it doesn’t appear to be in classical music or music teaching. In fact, it took an outside observer to note that the skills I’d learned while developing my photography identity would transfer to my musical identity. I just didn’t seem to make the connection!

Some of this may be generational – I’m “gen-x” which means I’m not a digital native, but I had no problem seeing the benefits of utilizing social media to enhance my hobby. I had a much more difficult time seeing how I could enhance my profession of music through social media. It may be because I came to photography relatively recently – after I already familiar with the Internet and various social media platforms – I started playing and teaching music well before the idea of “the internet” even existed!

Maybe Musical Millennials are better at social media than I am because they grew up with it – but maybe not.

From personal experience, we find that Millennials aren’t always conversant with technology. There is additional evidence that the view of Millennials being “digital natives,” who innately interact with technology, is too general and that most Millennials may have only a superficial knowledge of technology. See a discussion of this argument in Eunjung Oh & Thomas C. Reeves’ article “Generational Differences and the Integration of Technology in Learning, Instruction, and Performance” in the Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology (See abstract).

One reason we wrote the iPracticebook is that we found that our students were generally less familiar with musical technology that would help them practice than we were – the aging, but curious, “gen-xers”!

Why Use Social Media

In today’s world, the internet generally, and social media specifically, is our platform for defining who we are. As professional or semi-profession musicians and music teachers, we are announcing ourselves and our services much like we would if we, in another age, put a sign outside a storefront or took out an ad in a newspaper.

The goal of developing a social media identity as a musician or music teacher is to show the world who we are and what we can do. Ultimately, we have one eye on booking that next job or enrolling a student into our studio. Social media allows us to interact with potential clients who are not necessarily geographically local.

Having said that, I do use the various social media platforms differently for my photography identity. I use Facebook mainly to interact with other local photographers. This is where I find out about local photo walks and gallery showings. Instagram and my photography blog are more international, reaching a global audience with varied interests.

But having a social media presence goes beyond just the marketing. Many teachers post blogs or YouTube videos for free – giving away knowledge. This is a way to interact with and give back to the global community of musicians.

Professor Todd Ehle has made more than 30 violin tutorials publically available on his YouTube channel covering everything from simple hand position to vibrato www.youtube.com/user/professorV/about

New York Philharmonic trombonist Joe Alessi has a series of videos at www.alessimusicstudios.com

For an example of tutorials using Instagram video go to www.instagram.com/vibrantviolincoaching/

It’s also a way of adding a level of professionalism and – for lack of a better word – seriousness to your music. An online presence increases your standing in the musical community. It’s like having a business card – people know you’re serious.

Social media allows us to engage with other musicians and connects us as a community of musicians. Sometimes practicing in our isolated practice rooms detaches us from this community of musicians. Through social media, we can share anything from struggles to triumphs with others who will understand.

Conclusion

If you’re just starting to develop an online identity, either because you are a young musician just getting started or a more experienced musician or music teacher who has yet to develop an online identity, consider starting with a webpage. If you feel more connected to a particular platform like Instagram or YouTube, than you can of course develop your identity through these platforms, but these platforms will direct – and limit – your content.

I’ll devote a future post to specific suggestions regarding creating and maintaining social media presence.

There are many musicians who are utilizing social media to develop their identity – and get gigs! Google around a bit and you’ll see some amazing examples.

Head over to iPractice: Music Technology in Action for all the latest in integrating music technology into your studio or classroom.

#ipracticemusic #socialmedia #musicalmillennials

Written by Jennifer Mishra

Photo Credit Jennifer Mishra

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