Using Technology & Communication to Improve Your Music Program | An Interview with Paul Shimmons

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Using Technology & Communication to Improve Your Music Program | An Interview with Paul Shimmons

December 13, 2018

 

paul shimmons

This is the second installment from our conversation with Paul Shimmons. Paul is the marching band director at Farwell High School in Michigan. If you haven’t read the first installment yet, do it now to learn a little bit more about Paul and how he uses technology to enhance his music program.

This post is going to focus specifically on how he uses technology to stay connected with students and parents. He also says that it’s important to communicate with other band directors to exchange ideas and advice, so we’ll share his advice for doing that as well. The information given will be valuable for you to implement in your program.

Staying Connected with Students

To stay connected with the students in your music program you’ll need to use multiple forms of communication. For texting, it’s best to use a tool that allows you to send mass text messages to all of your students at once. Remind is great for this. You can even schedule messages ahead of time.

Almost all students are on social media. Paul recommends having a Twitter account that your students follow where you post valuable information about your program like rehearsal times or other reminders. Facebook can be useful for students, but it tends to be better for communicating with parents.

Staying Connected with Parents

As we just mentioned above, Facebook is a great way to communicate with parents. The best strategy is to create a Facebook Group as opposed to just using a page. A Facebook Group allows you to monitor who is in the group. You can adjust your settings so that you have the opportunity to approve or deny anyone who requests access to the group. You can also send people a request to ask them to join the group. Another benefit of using a Facebook Group is the fact that everyone in the group will be notified whenever you post. This will help ensure that everyone is seeing the information.

Just like with the students, Remind is a useful tool for communicating with Parents because it’s much easier than texting or calling them all individually.

Staying Connected with Other Band Directors

Staying connected with other band directors to share ideas and advice is important, but easy to forget when you’re busy running a music program.

Social media is a great tool for this. There are many Facebook Groups for you as a band director to join. There you will be able to communicate with everyone else in the group. This is a great place to ask questions or to give answers to others who are asking questions. There are Band Director Groups, Choir Teacher Groups, Middle School Band Director Groups, even groups specific to many states like the Michigan Band Directors Group. Whatever you teach, there is probably a group for those teachers to communicate in. If not, then start one!

Twitter is also great for connecting with other music directors. There are numerous chats on Twitter that you are able to participate in using specific hashtags. For instance, every Monday night there is a #MusEdChat at 8pm that Paul recommends. The moderator, Joe, posts a few questions and music teachers from all over the world chat about those questions. These are great places to ask questions or to give answers to others who are asking questions. As a band director it’s important to continue learning and gaining insight. Paul has found it beneficial to follow some of these chats and participate in the different communities. He recommends following everyone in the chat if they teach at the same level as you do.

Conclusion

Being able to easily communicate with all of your students and their parents will help you stay organized and on the same page with everyone while communicating regularly with other music directors will help you generate new ideas and learn new information. If applied, these communication methods will help your program be even better, which is what you want for your students.

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