Tonight I got out of my comfort zone again at school.
Mr. Aceti, music teacher, theatre guy, etc., organized a coffee house as a fundraiser for the local Soup Kitchen and invited me to sing and play guitar.
I was nervous, and so were most of the students. Lots of them said things like, “I’m not very good, but here’s a song by so-and-so.” It was an eye-opener in light of my own trepidation; for some reason I thought the students would be more comfortable with performing.
I played guitar and sang “Creep” by Radiohead (with lyrics modified, of course). I think it went pretty well, although it’s hard to tell from behind the microphone. I think someone recorded it with their phone, so I might ask around so I can watch/listen to it.
There were lots of great student performances, and it was nice to meet some kids that I don’t teach (and probably won’t teach this year). I think it was a valuable experience for all of us, breaking past fears and shyness and just sharing with friends and strangers. There was a climate of support and encouragement in the room, which was awesome.
And the best part? One student who didn’t already know me thought I was a grade 12 student. :)
“In the era of connectivity, informal mentoring relationships are easily formed and those with expertise are eager to pass on what they know to novices. In a participatory culture, I am unable to learn from you if you are not sharing online. I will never be able to find you and leverage what you know.”
– The Connected Educator, page 11
This makes me think of learning to play guitar. I’m an okay guitar player right now; I’ve been dabbling for several years. I don’t think I’m particularly skilled, but I’m not brand new to the instrument. Up until now I’ve been learning in semi-isolation – I read something or I watch video online and I practice on my own. I don’t play with other guitarists, I don’t share my own playing online. Up until a few minutes ago, I was thinking that my online sharing wouldn’t be useful, since there are many highly skilled players already sharing online. But I realize I know better. When a teacher new to blogging or Twitter shares what they learn online I engage in a dialogue with them, for them and for me. Similarly, I could share my fledgling guitar playing online and perhaps spark a conversation. This interaction might be helpful to a very new player, or it might be helpful for me (especially if a skilled player provides feedback).
So I think I’ll do that. I’ll post some video of me playing guitar, and I’ll invite comments and feedback. And I’ll hope for the useful kind of feedback, the sort that gives the conversation a place to go (instead of “You should try an easier instrument” I’d prefer something more like “Have you considered trying this technique?”).
Edit: Here is a link to my YouTube channel, which includes four videos of me playing guitar (so far).