Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tweet me! Embracing Social Media at Podium 2012

The world of choral music can sometimes feel like a microcosm. The world of social media can also feel the same way. However, when these two specialized spheres overlap, the focused interaction of these two factors produces one of the most unique choral-social experiences. While I was looking forward to Podium with great anticipation as a singer and as a choir girl blogger, the reason Podium was as engaging as it was for me was due to the presence of social media. By social media I mean Facebook, Twitter, blogging, e-mail – all modes of Internet interaction. Twitter is a social media platform, not unlike Facebook, where users can share their experiences with a larger audience with messages known as “tweets” in 140 characters or less. My goal at Podium 2012 was to actively use these various tools to show how choral music enthusiasts could be united by their love of choral music.

I sent out a tweet of my arrival upon checking in the Lord Elgin Hotel. Almost immediately, I had a reply and made plans to meet a twitter acquaintance and fellow choral music blogger, Jean-Pierre Dubois-Godin. It was my first opportunity connecting with a fellow choir music blogger. I believe the same can be said of choral conductors across this country, each in their own community pocket, potentially with limited opportunity for inter-conductor connections. Alas, being united in musical passion but segregated by physical coordinates.

During the conference, it was exciting for me to read live updates regarding who was sitting in the audience of my concert or getting tweets when Donald Patriquin happened to mention my name during a his world music reading session. The instantaneous notification and interaction with others made me feel like I could be in two places at once. By the way, the only reason Donald knew me was because he had read my blog two years earlier from a ChoralNet link. The interconnected web that unites us through the worldwide web and its power is not to be overlooked. 

Another surreal experience was just to meet some of my readers. One morning I entered the elevator, and a fellow rider glanced at my nametag and stated in a friendly tone: “I read your blog post this morning!” It was a blog post that I had only published an hour earlier. This was not the first or the last time I had moments of recognition since some conference attendees, once seeing my nametag, would say: “You’re that Choir Girl blogger!” Why yes, yes I am. Up until this point, I have never come across so many moments of immediate connection between readers and myself. What I do as a blogger is similar to a conductor in a way because what we do is lonely work. I work in silence to formulate my message but it is not until I share this with my audience that my work is given meaning.

Twitter not only became a tool for me to connect with other attendees at the conference but also a way for me to share my continuous interaction at the conference with the choral community abroad. Since I was composing a continuous cycle of daily blog posts and posting the links on Facebook and Twitter, I was getting constant feedback from readers. On one occasion the manager of The Choir Project, Dr. Marian Dolan, told me that she appreciated being able to read news from the conference. She wished she was able to be with her choral friends at the conference and that Florida wasn’t so far away from Ottawa. The whole aim of a conference is to share ideas and connect with others. Who is to say this needs to be restricted to conference attendees only? I can already envision a Podium future with live streaming of all sessions and concerts so that the Podium experience can be shared with the international choral community.

My aim through actively using blogging and social media during Podium 2012 was to showcase the power through use of these social media tools. I know that people feel uncomfortable with making public statements over social media, but if we are accountable for our words… then what is the fear? There are always ways to use tools responsibly and social media is no different. As far as I am concerned, the more we can share information and discuss our experiences in an open musical forum, the more that people can benefit. If I ever wanted to go back and remember my conference activity all I would need to do is search for my Podium 2012 blog posts and tweets. It is easy to be wary of a form of communication that seems so foreign and public. It is even easier to dismiss them. All I ask is for people to consider and potentially embrace a new form of musical discourse. We are all looking for ways to connect; it is a shame to not consider implementing an instrument that works so effectively. As with any instrument, it can only be as good as its instrumentalist and there is no better way to learn than to practice.

The rampant technological pace of the world will only continue as the countdown begins for Podium 2014 in Halifax, NS. There is a whole choral community waiting to be connected and it can only be as strong as the network of members who embrace it. I ask you then, dear readers, to take a chance and experiment, even if that means just sending this Choir Girl a simple tweet.


The Choir Girl Blog:

Choir Girl Twitter:

Podium 2014:

The Choir Project:

No comments: