Digital Marketing of Opera

Activities in our house revolve around theater and music. There’s always a play rehearsal, choir practice, voice lesson, dance class, etc., on our schedules.

A current project for our family revolves around an opera about Lois Lowry’s book, The Giver. The Minnesota Opera and the Kansas City Opera commissioned an opera written for young voices. It’s an ambitious project. The content isn’t easy, nor is the music.

How does this relate to anything techie? The Minnesota Opera is currently doing fundraising for the project. Besides the regular types of fundraising, they are using a newish tool called Kickstarter. Kickstarter is an amazing idea that makes use of social media and grass roots efforts. The point of Kickstarter is to raise a large sum of money by reaching out to people – often people not included in major fundraising efforts. This money will be raised through donations of $10, $25 and $50. The project is spread on social media – via Facebook, word of mouth, etc. The hope is to have projects go viral so lots of people pitch in money for great projects.  (Here’s the Opera’s Kickstarter project. Kick in a few bucks!)

This project even demonstrates the power of visual storytelling. Check out a few of the videos – you get to hear the voices of the kids, the director, the composer, and more. The images, the voices, the music. These all tell the story in a way not possible in just words. To top it off, kids did much of the editing and storyboarding of these videos! (They’re really good, too!)

Let the Kids Show Us

I dragged my son to an educational technology conference this afternoon. He brought along some stuff for drawing. But, did he want to draw a bunch of adults in the room? Nope. Well – he pulled out his iPod and found a photo of an animal to draw.

Gotta admit I wouldn’t have thought of doing that.


Adolescence is an Opportunity

Great video from another 21st century learning organization, Born to Learn.

What if schools could teach through play? If adolescents could learn through doing things and creating things, rather than sitting in rows of desks?

From the minute my oldest child started kindergarten, it seemed so obvious to me that the model of age-based, teacher-led classrooms was outmoded. Why should kids sit quietly in neat rows? My son once observed that the biggest thing he learned in kindergarten was how to walk in lines. Huh.

My 14-year old daughter had a great opportunity to volunteer at a local children’s museum this summer. She learned more about herself, about child development, confidence and potential life skills than she’d ever learn in a regular classroom. Why can’t more opportunities like this exist?

We Want Change

“Can We Try It?”

A simple question from a group of kids resulted in this awesome video. A class of  middle school kids in Texas (see edevolution for more background) came up with the idea after reading a book, and asking a different question: “Could children, using the internet, have a dramatic impact on the world around them? ”

And, here’s their product: kids asking for change. It’s saying all the things I’ve been hearing: classrooms are like they were 100 years ago, kids want to collaborate, kids want technology.

This project in itself is a great illustration of what they are talking about: creativity, collaboration, communication. If you read through their blog, you can see how they put the project together. It empowered the kids, gave them “agency” – they feel like they could have an impact. Publishing to the public is an amazing motivator, and has proven to increase the quality of student work, and I think we see that here.

I agree wholeheartedly with them that they aren’t blaming teachers or any person in particular, but rather the “system.” It’s not one person’s fault, it’s a systemic problem. It takes a whole lot of energy to shift the movement of an elephant. But it has to start somewhere, and I thank these kids for doing this.

Kudos to the teacher and administration for being the guides and mentors to these kids.

Watch the video and read their blog. Then go show it to someone else and start a conversation.

(Hat tip to Sir Ken Robinson for tweeting this video.)