Every semester our horn studio has some special project. Last semester we read and discussed two books, Talent is Overrated and The Talent Code. This semester everyone will keep a horn blog. Following is part of the instructions for this assignment (revised):

If you’ve never kept a blog before, you may be in for a treat. Blogging is as fun and infectious as it is enriching and informative. You get to learn, be expressive/educational, and perhaps have the most fun you’ve ever had writing. Everyone is required to keep a horn blog this semester. The minimum number of entries is 20 entries over the 14 weeks of the semester, less than two a week.

Your content should be concerned primarily with one or both of two things:

1) Discussing what you personally are doing, working on, thinking about concerning the horn (practice, performance, problem solving, playing in orchestra, etc.)

and/or

2) Discussing some horn topic, with the idea of passing on information to other horn players that you have collected, thought about, and written about.

3) Freshmen (and others, if they wish) should have at least 4 entries based on chapters from Philip Farkas’s The Art of Horn Playing so that you become more familiar with that standard work.

Where/How do you start a blog? There are a number of free blog hosts that make it very easy to get started. Try:

http://www.blogger.com (You.tube video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=bU4gXHkejMo)

http://wordpress.com/ (host of J.A.’s blog)

You can set up a blog in minutes. Choose a theme and a title and you’re off. You can set it up yourself or we can set it up together in a lesson or arrange for another time. Ask me questions any time about anything to do with writing your blog.

Tips on blogging:

•Starting a Blog (www.startingablog.com/)

•How to Start a Blog (www.wikihow.com/Start-a-Blog)

What do you call your blog? Anything you like, but it’s a good idea to make it obvious in the title what your blog is about, i.e. (something) Horn, or Horn (something). Decide on a title first thing; you will need a title to set up the blog online.

Length? A paragraph or more per entry. Entries don’t have to be lengthy (although they may be if you’re on a roll), but they’re not tweets, either. There needs to be some substance there.

Where do you get ideas?

For #1, you simply write about what you’re currently doing. The act of writing organizes your thoughts and often solves problems while you write. Horn seminars may supply more ideas/content, especially since we are having a number of guest artists this semester. Talk about your reactions to the new ideas they bring, or the new way they talk about common problems, for instance.

For #2, the best place to start is to read other horn blogs. Take their ideas and give them a new spin, or take them a bit farther. Or combine two ideas. You might start with my blog Horn Insights and first read some of my entries, then sample of the blogs (not all just on horn) in the Blogroll list on the right hand side. Probably the biggest/best horn blog is Horn Matters, which takes the combined efforts of two ace hornists/bloggers (and both are savvy webmasters as well) Bruce Hembd and John Ericson. Their site is very slick in appearance and vast in content. You should have no trouble coming up with content after looking through a few of these. I owe the start of my blog to blogmeister John Ericson, who (at the IHS Symposium in Macomb last summer) peptalked me into getting started. Thanks, John!

Who will read my blog? It’s hard to know who reads it unless they leave comments, which some thoughtful readers sometimes do. You will know how many people visit your blog, since the blog hosts thoughtfully provide visit counters – you can see how many hits your site had each day/week/month. One thing is for sure: you know that the rest of the horn studio and me will be reading your blog every week (and we may even leave comments!). Read Bruce Hembd on the benefits of blogging, reflective learning, and student blogs.

When Should I Start? Start now. Today. Set your blog. Pick a topic. Write a bit. Read it over, correcting spelling, grammar, expression. And the release it into the wild (i.e. press Publish). Read it again online, make further corrections that you missed the first time. Enjoy for a few moments the satisfaction that comes with 1) thinking about something and 2) publishing your considered thoughts and, in general, being a producer now instead of just a consumer. Read through a few blogs by other people and record plans or a list of future possible topics. Once you get started, you’ll find that it doesn’t take as much time as you feared (ok, you may be able to check your email only 41 times a minute instead of the usual 47), but that the satisfaction of small but continued writing is something you can’t buy or get any other way. Freedom of the Press belongs to the person who owns a press. In this day and age of effortless internet publishing, that means everyone with the gumption to do it. Write now!