Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 Online Music Instruction Vision

By Mark T. Burke

Mission:  In 2011, online music courses for K-12 students made waves. A few, brave schools and teachers, recognizing the benefits, took the initiative to learn more and subsequently, launched programs at their schools.  Students within those programs have started to reach new levels of musical understanding and performance.  However, the number of schools and teachers using the power of online instruction is low.  Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to further develop the integration of online music at schools and within communities around the country and beyond.  Your mission will ensure the Music Within every person can and will be heard.  This message will self destruct in 10 seconds.....10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.... won't really self destruct.

Like all small companies, I can't spend 100% of my time focused solely on our "product."  In 2011, I had planned, and spent much of my time on outreach, professional development, speaking and being an evangelist for online and hybrid learning.  I also spent the year learning how music education is perceived.  I spent time diving into the RMM movement and gaining a deeper appreciation for the "other 80%", those students who do not participate in music ensembles within schools.  I also continued my work with virtual and brick and mortar schools.  I've had the pleasure of continuing my work OUTSIDE of music education as well, with my efforts to build a youth entrepreneurship program called EYE.  As part of those efforts, I've met many influential thinkers such as Dr. Derek Cabrera and Dr. Laura Colosi, authors of "Thinking at Every Desk" and creators of the DSRP thinking method and VMCL business organizational model.  I've also had the pleasure of working with innovators such as Don Brown, inventor of the Ab Roller and many other devices in most of our homes today.  I ended my year reaching a goal of mine to present a Ted Talk...Well, it was a TedX talk, and I am no less proud of it

Although I mention a few names above, I in no way discount the many other folks who helped me experience one of the most rewarding years of my life in 2011.  What Derek, Laura and Don represent to me however, are people who have learned a great deal about learning, society and service and have taken the time to boil down very complex systems into easy to understand models.  Using those models, clarity for 2012 has been building...and today, I'll share a bit. 

Big Bold Statement:  We should aim to harness the Music Within ALL!  Is the Music Within You strong? The music within me is strong.  The music within my wife provides her balance, grounding, expressiveness, kindness and compassion.  The music within her grandson provides structure within creativity and creativity in the wild and crazy world of being a 16 year old.  The music in my grandfather who started taking guitar lessons at age 77, gave him purpose, gave him a way to share, and smile.  I started viaAcademies because of  the "Music Within Me."  Before that, I started playing the trumpet in 4th grade because of  the "Music Within Me."  Later in life, I wanted to learn to play the saxophone because of the "Music Within Me."  It is this simple, very focused vision that will drive me forward in 2012.  That vision is based on  my belief that everyone looks in the mirror and says "I want to experience the Music Within Me", but to do so, they need help. 

In 2012, I will be changing the name of viaAcademies to one that describes a true vision, the vision that everyone wants their music within to come out.  This change is not in name only. This new vision will guide the mission of the organization, it will provide structure around what we will need the capacity to do to accomplish our mission and what we need to learn to do so.  To get rolling, over the next few weeks/months, viaAcademies will become "Music Within Me"  (   

This change sets the foundation for a much broader and exciting music education service.  First, the name is brandable, something all music entrepreneurs should pay attention to.  As we all seek to influence others positively and to do so we must clearly think about how music can become a more natural part of life and education.  Secondly, the name describes what I believe is a must in regards to music education growth.  Programs must reach out to all ages, all students, all adults at a personal, musical level.  Third, we must remember our goal as educators is not to keep our jobs, or ensure music program numbers stay high enough to warrant so many FTE's.  We must first and foremost be focused on developing musicians.  The numbers and program success will follow.  Forth, teachers must find the music within themselves and in many, many cases, they need to find it AGAIN.  After years of fighting the fight, music teachers often forget about the music within themselves.  I've already started coaching teachers in this area and look forward to growing this level of service in 2012.  Next, we all want to share.  Community and social learning is a strong urge within ourselves.  When we share, we are sharing part of ourselves.  Through sharing, we are teaching, and learning.  Music Within Me can and should become a format for social music education.  Lastly, technologies that we build must be personal, useful and powerful.  Focus must be on the end user, not the schools or the institutions, we should focus on the STUDENTS.

I am so excited about 2012 and what me and those I bring on board to help as members of the Music Within Me team in 2012.  As I've done for 3 years now, I will continue my bootstrap efforts by working within a world of limited resources and hard earned client partnerships.  We have much to work toward and now, we have a clear model to follow.

Best wishes for 2012.  What is your vision for 2012?


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