Monday, December 21, 2009

Top Holiday Activities to Unite Music and Your New Gadgets

By Mark Burke

I believe every techie gadget has a small window of opportunity to either become indispensable or just a fad. During the holidays, millions of small, personal gadgets and computers will fall into the hands of wide-eyed owners, brimming with excitement and little desire to read the manuals.  During the first few days out of their boxes, those gadgets either become ingrained into the lives of their new owners, or they become just another device trickling away at the electric bill.  The key to really harnessing the power of these devices is not knowing "how to use it", rather "how to MAKE use of it."

So here are a few devices and activities for each one (for students and teachers).  It would be really special to have readers post other activities, maybe even a few examples of your efforts for all to enjoy.     

  • Laptop
    • Student Activity:  Create a musical "presentation" highlighting your musical activities for the past year.  Plan to incorporate other medial including pictures and maybe even movies or sound files.  Plan the design of the presentation so you can excite your viewers.  Since you now have a laptop, take the laptop to your relative's or friend's homes so you can share your creation.  The key is to show how you can use your new laptop for more than just surfing the web. While you have their attention, showcasing your musical talents helps them learn a bit more about you as well. 
    • Teacher Activity:  Going mobile is really empowering. Create a list of Youtube or other musical videos that you want to share with your students.  By having a laptop, you no longer need to worry about copying links or emailing them to another account at school or at your studio.  Soon you will not believe you managed so long without a laptop. It is an incredible feeling when you can simply open the lid and share so much with others.     
  • Webcam
    • Student Activity: Meet online with a friend and play your instruments for each other.  Use SKYPE for a high quality experience.  Give a concert for each other and invite others to join in.  Pretty soon you will realize how easy it is to create your own, virtual concert.  
    • Teacher Activity:  Connect with a musical colleague over the holidays.  No need to worry about long distance phone bills, using SKYPE is free. Discuss your teaching techniques and share stories, best practice etc.  Store the colleague's contact information for the future so you can get together any time.
  • Digital Still Camera
    • Student Activity: Take several pictures of your instrument.  Try different angles and perspectives.  After you have several pictures, create a poster of the pictures.  You can go high tech here too by using a computer to create the poster, or just print the pictures and make a paper and glue collage.  Throw in some other pictures of your friends and include their instruments as well.  Be creative and show off your musical pride. If you want, you can even create an online albums. The goal is to show the pictures to younger students.  Show them how much fun you had making the pictures so you could share your instrument with them.  Check with your music teacher and work out a way for you to show your pictures to other classes or groups of students.
    • Teacher Activity:  Capture moments over the holidays of how music impacts the lives of others.  Take pictures at concerts, after and before (make sure this is ok). Your goal is to produce pictures that show the power of music in the lives of many.  Remember, if we can't see the value music has in our lives and others, it is hard to communicate that to students.  This is a great activity to remind us all why we play musical instruments. 
  • Digital Video Camera
    • Student Activity: Record yourself playing your instrument.  I know this sounds pretty basic. But let's face it, you may need a reason to practice over the holidays. Your goal is to demonstrate to your teacher that you did practice over the holidays. Record an exercise that you were assigned or record yourself playing a band song.  Place the video on a DVD.  Ten years from now you will have a lot of fun watching your video.  
    • Teacher Activity:  Record a "What Music Means to Me" video. When you return to school after the holidays, share the video with your students.  They will really appreciate hearing your story. Remember, you can also use this as a recruitment tool in the future. 
What advice do you have for making use of new gadgets?  Let us know what you discovered under your tree and how you put it to use in your musical world.

Happy Holidays Everyone! 

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