The Easiest Social Media Setup For Your Program!

I had an awesome time at TMEA this past weekend!  I am honored to teach in the best state for music education in the country, and to have an awesome professional association/convention such as TMEA.  If you teach in Texas and didn’t attend, you are missing out on an excellent opportunity to recharge your batteries and grow as an educator.  If you live out of state, come join us! I’ve been to a couple of conventions in other states and they are miniscule compared to TMEA. YOU NEED TO GO NEXT YEAR!!!!

Ok, back to business.  There is one question I answered more than any other at TMEA this year. “How should I set up/manage social media for my program?” Great question! And one that can be answered easily.Social-media-for-public-relations1

There are tons of free, easy to use, and integratable platforms out there that make having a professional social media presence easy! Here’s how I manage my groups all from my cell phone!

  1. Social Media – The followers of your program (parents/students/community members) are everywhere. EVERYWHERE! Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google +. Create an account for each site for your program. IN a minute I’ll show you how to post to them all with ease!
  2. Google Calendar – This is an essential part of my day!  I have different calendars set up for each of my ensembles/classes, and can view any or all of these events on one screen.  I can share events with my coworkers, allow them to view my calendar so they can make scheduling decisions without me having to be present, I can set reminders to alert me of upcoming events, and I can embed any of these calendars (like my band calendar) into a website.  I can now update my public band calendar that’s visible to parents on our website from my smartphone by just opening my calendar app.
  3. Remind – Want a safe way to send messages to your student group and parents? Remind (formerly Remind 101) is a one-way text messaging system that students and parents can subscribe to.  You can send them SMS messages from any internet connected device (including your desktop computer), but they can’t text back.  I use this every Friday night to notify parents when we leave football games and when we’ll return.  You can also schedule reminder text messages so kids don’t forget to bring important items, or use it as a reminder for scheduled rehearsals.
  4. HootSuite – Now that you have created all those accounts mentioned above, manage them all from one easy to use service. Great functionality to post simultaneously to all your social media outlets, or to simply read all your feeds in one place. Best of all, there’s an app for that! I can post pictures of a concert or contest to all the social media outlets, and my website from my cell phone! Yes my website. That’s because I use…
  5. WordPress Blog For A Website  – It’s very fast and easy to create a basic website using WordPress for your school groups.  You can embed your Google Calendar, post to it via HootSuite, embed a Remind widget to post those text messages to your website, and basically give everyone a home base to get all the information they need for your groups.  Create multiple pages, or multiple blogs for each of your groups. It’s all free!

The entire process of setting all of this up and making it functional should take under an hour! Best of all, it’s easy to keep everyone up to date and keep the lines of communication open, freeing up time in the process.

What sort of tech/education questions do you have?  Leave a comment below and I’ll answer those questions in an upcoming post.


The Abraham Lincoln School of Music Education

Ok, seriously. What does our 16th President have to do with Music Education? Allow me to explain!


When was the last time you sharpened an axe? I spent my fair share of time chopping wood when I was a kid and quickly became familiar with the process of sharpening an axe. I got really good at it too! It’s a very tiring and painful task to chop wood with a dull axe. I speak from experience here so you don’t have to head to the woods this week to learn this lesson for yourself.

How much time have you spent sharpening your teaching skills lately? Is that a touchy subject? Let me rephrase the question. How much time have you wasted in rehearsals due to a lack of sharpness? Let’s face it, we all go through cycles in our teaching when we’re really on top of our game, and other times when we could really use a boost…a sharper axe if you will.

“If I was given an axe and was told that I had eight hours to cut down a tree, I would spend six hours sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

I was recently reminded of this quote while reading Teaching Music with Passion by Dr. Peter Boonshaft.  I’ve read the book a number of times before and I try to make it a point to reread this book about once a year.  I always read it with a highlighter and pencil and no matter how many times I’ve read it I always find myself making new notes and discovering new helpful tips to better my teaching. Dr. Boonshaft uses his experience to help us find places where our teaching could be just a bit more effective. Excellent axe sharpening tips in this book. I highly recommend it to anyone who teaches music!

I also highly recommend attending your state’s music educator convention. Texas Music Educators Association, one of the largest in the U.S., begins this week.  Nearly 16,000 music educators (past, present, and future) will descend upon the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio from all over the state of Texas, and the U.S.  I have friends driving in from Arkansas, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania to attend our convention. If you’ve never been, I would strongly encourage you to drop by this week, or make plans to attend next year. It’s well worth the trip!

Regardless of where they’re coming from, they’re all working on sharpening their “axe” in a number of ways. Some will go to classes, others will be inspired by rehearsals and concerts by All-State musicians, university ensembles, and world-class professional performers. Classes and vendors will be aimed at improving the skills of orchestra, band, choir, elementary, mariachi, guitar teachers, and anyone else who claims music as their profession. Whatever your needs as a music educator, TMEA has something for everyone!

What are you doing to sharpen your axe?  What are you doing to make your teaching more effective, more powerful, and more meaningful? Spending some time working on yourself will pay huge dividends in the way you teach, the way your students learn, and the way you feel in the process.  Well…go on! Get to sharpening!

Discussion Question: What are some things you do to sharpen your teaching skills?

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