Monday, February 23, 2009

Classical Music's Encounter with Twitter

I wrote my latest article for Music Teachers Helper two nights ago, entitled 7 Ways to Maximize Communication with Parents and Students in Changing Times. I hope I'm not alone in noticing that the nature of how music professionals communicate with their clientele and with each other has been changing rather rapidly in the last year. It's already well known that collaborative pianists routinely get and refer engagements through Facebook. Twitter is a rather hot item in the arts this week (check out articles from Greg Sandow and Kim Witman), and numerous classical organizations and musicians are starting to jump on the Twitter bandwagon en masse.

All this in spite of the fact that classical musicians are only starting to figure out how to use the possibilities of this platform and are still making first steps. Might Twitter become classical music's killer app that combines messaging with easy microblogging and marketing, all from an extremely personal vantage point?

Think about email for a second.

Imagine it's 1989 and someone gets up at a music teachers' workshop and declares that in 15 years teachers will be organizing their studios via email. They probably would have been greeted with derision, since no one had really figured out what email could be used for and only a few people had it. However, once the technology had spread widely enough, people discovered what email could do and it now is an integral part of professional life.

I know a clarinetist who, at the dawn of widely available email in the early 1990's, emailed all the arts organizations he could find who had recently adopted the new technology. The arts groups had never yet received an emailed concert proposal before, so naturally they took a second look at this performer's materials. And this was how he got his start on the concert stage.

Is Twitter another example of a new technology that hasn't found its true legs yet? Here are some possibilities for how Twitter could conceivably be used by those in the classical music field:
  • advertising concerts
  • pointing to new recordings
  • 140-character vignettes about life in classical music
  • meeting others in the profession
  • talking about what you're working on
  • tweeting links to classical music stories in traditional media
  • breaking news about competitions
  • discussing approaches and materials with other teachers
  • finding a pianist in another city
  • referring a soloist to a pianist in another city
  • retweeting announcements by other users
The list goes on and on. So what would you call a collaborative pianist that uses Twitter? A twitterlaborative pianist? A collaboratwive pianist? A twaccompanist? Update: We're twittists! (via Jennifer Peterson)

And by the way, you can follow my Twitter updates (including notifications of my new articles on both the Collaborative Piano Blog and Music Teacher's Helper) here.


  1. I think I'd just call them a pianist! Because if you're right, giving them a special label as Twitterers will soon be like giving emailable pianists a special label.

  2. Anonymous9:45 PM

    Have you found Naxos' Twitter accounts @NaxosRecords @ClassicsOnline

    They have been on Twitter since March of last year. They used Twitter to communicate with album customers regarding new and upcoming releases. Connect with artists, composers and orchestras. Make up-to-the-minute Online Streaming Services new addition announcements to their subscribers.

    Some of those customers even used Twitter to contact Naxos regarding Customer Service issues.

    I hear there are more surprises to come for its followers.

  3. Thanks, Vinko! I already follow @Naxos but appreciate the heads-up regarding @ClassicsOnline.

  4. Anonymous3:07 PM

    Hi Chris,

    Make sure you're following @NaxosRecords as the other has nothing to do with the music label, Naxos.

  5. Oops--I meant @NaxosRecords.