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.
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”!
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.
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.
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.
#ipracticemusic #socialmedia #musicalmillennials
Written by Jennifer Mishra
Photo Credit Jennifer Mishra