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The mission of the ACDA is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy.

Reflections from the world of Educational Technology

( I write this week from the Florida Educational Technology Conference.
As a conductor first, and an educational technologist second, I am always fascinated by the angst of the ed. tech world: So much of the educational technology realm is seeking to take content and make it a) experiential, b) creative and c) personal. We as ensemble leaders often face the equal and opposite challenge: how do we take what is essentially experiential, creative, and personal, and look back towards "content?" While many of us interact on some level with the educational system, we all interact with some level of "content" in our art. It may be an underlying artistic message within our program selection, or an era, style, or region represented by our ensemble. Liturgical text and stylistic interpretation are each elements of knowledge and thinking applied to an art form.
Our colleagues in the educational realm are challenged each day to make their activities experiential, creative, and personal. Many of us would say that as artists, these three principles are crucial to our art. They are certainly core to our experience as performers. To reach our greatest benefit to society, though, we may force ourselves to ask at some point if these principles are core to the experience of our audience. Just as the world of education is seeking to adapt to an immersive, interactive and media-rich world by rethinking traditional teaching methods, we have an opportunity to rethink traditional performance opportunities through the same lens.
Consider: for many of our performances, nearly every single member of the audience has a phone by which they can participate and communicate with performers and audience members alike. What would the performance look like where we sought not to deliver the results of the creative process, but engage our audience in the process of creativity itself?
Our technology discussions as professionals center around two main themes: doing the "logistics" more efficiently and effectively, and doing unique and creative things that were not previously possible. Certainly the former is important: after all, creativity and innovation take time, and in order to dedicate time to experiments and brainstorming, we must all remove some existing burdens on our schedules. I submit, though, that the benefit in technology is not in optimization, but creating new and bold steps forward with the time and resources created by that optimization. What is that next step forward in our evolution as performers?
We have a great opportunity as creators, artists, musicians and conductors to expand our sphere to include the audience in "the creative process." The resources offered by communication technology allow us to expand the creative act to include more participants and in more roles than ever before. How will we embrace these and lead our communities through our art? Better yet, what innovations in our performances have we not yet uncovered by using the creative powers of our audiences?
These questions are writ large across our classrooms as we seek to release creativity in our students. For our musicians, though, the creative process is already in place. All that remains is for us to find new ways to focus, capture and share that creativity, and we can re-position music as a solution to the challenges of society, not a burden on its resources.