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

ChoralNet

In 1991 I spent a week in Belgium working with a small group of choral people from Belgium, France, Germany, England, USA, the Philippines, and Slovenia to enlarge the holdings of a small choral music databank sponsored by the International Federation for Choral Music called Musica. Some of that group would later go on to achieve some renown in our profession: Karmina Šilec of Carmina Slovenica, Jonathan Velasco from the Philippines, Manfred Bender of the Deutsches Centrum für Chormusik and others. We stared at green and white computer screens entering data that identified choral music scores, asking each other in various languages how one might describe this genre or that use of a given piece of music. It was during that week that I first wondered why the Internet could not be used to facilitate exchange between choral musicians that were separated by vast distances geographically.  I came back to the USA determined to try to do just that.
 
That week spawned not only ChoralNet, but also an enduring association between ChoralNet and Musica which has grown in much the same manner as has that small email list I began after returning from Belgium. Throughout the infancy of Choralist and then ChoralNet, I worked with Jean Sturm, Musica’s creator, and uploaded nearly 4000 titles from my personal choral music database into the databank. In 1991, that was a major contribution to its holdings. Now, with over 160,000 entries, it would be barely noticed. Musica is an encyclopedic resource for the choral world.
 
Our friends across the Atlantic have announced a fund drive to support their choral music databank. If you’ve never used the resource, try it. If you do use Musica, please support their work. You can do so by going here.
 
 
Those of you who are members of the American Choral Directors Association have received or are soon to receive your September issue of the Choral Journal.  In his column Executive Director Tim Sharp states
 
Our new ACDA Technology Committee Chair, Jim Feiszli, sees no reason that ChoralNet does not replace Facebook in the lives of our membership and extended choral community as our vehicle for professional and social networking
and goes on to say, “I could not agree more”.  Maybe you find that vision just a little hazy at the moment, but allow me to share with you what I am doing as I “write” the first draft of this blog.
 
Sidebar.  Why the quotes?  Last March I wrote one of these blogs on my phone while standing in line registering for the ACDA national conference in Chicago.  Today, I have literally foregone the whole typing route (which I do not do well anyway) and am simply dictating the blog into my phone as it translates my speech into text.  I upload the text and format it on the blog before posting.  Neat, huh?
 
Anyway, I am in Oklahoma City at the national ACDA offices meeting with Martin Knowles and Jose Tellez. Martin is the longtime Manager of ChoralNet and architect of the ChoralNet system.  Jose is the new technology expert in Oklahoma City and comes to ACDA from Sprint, with expertise in both mobile computing and corporate database management.  We are setting goals and policies for the future use of technology to assist ACDA to meet its stated goals.
 
There are two main reasons why ChoralNet Communities have not taken off as the medium for ACDA communications.
 
One is that they are still under construction. The user interface and consequent usefulness of Communities is still being developed and refined.  Last month I began a discussion on the Community Editors Community regarding this issue and it generated many potentially game-changing possibilities which we now must make happen.  These include such things as:
  • Advanced tools for editors to allow them to customize their community pages like;
    • Ability to change order of pages and subpages
    • Hide subpages or be able to scroll over to see their links
    • Be able to message a subgroup of members rather than the whole community
    • Ability to sort library and tagged items
    • Expansion of the kinds of documents that can be uploaded to libraries
  • Elimination of moderation for community forum posts by members who have been validated by their community editors
  • Ability to handle forms and upload rehearsal files for activities such as honors choirs and conferences
  • Implementing a Chat feature for communities that allows for real-time interaction for online meetings
  • Creating cross-connection with a community's other online presences such as an existing website or Facebook page
These are all ChoralNet technical problems and we’re working on implementing such things that will make ChoralNet look and feel more user-friendly. 
 
The other major stumbling block is the fact that many ACDA members are simply not registered on ChoralNet.  I am happy to announce that this issue will soon be a non-issue.  By February of 2012, all ACDA members will automatically be registered on ChoralNet.  In fact, our plan is to have a single logon and password for both entities.  How can this be?  Our two technical geniuses will have both ACDA.org and ChoralNet.org running on the same server by October.  In fact, you will see a dramatic increase in speed on both sites with this transfer to a new server when this happens.  They have already developed a plan and method whereby the two separate systems will become one over the next year and this merger will begin with the membership databases.  By late 2011, those of you who are registered on both ACDA and ChoralNet will have the option of merging your two separate registrations. This option will end by February and at that time, those with two registrations will be merged and those ACDA members who were not previously registered on ChoralNet will be.  Sounds fairly draconian, but it solves some major organizational issues that have plagued both ChoralNet and ACDA for several years.
 
ACDA needs a better communications system.  Leadership often relies on email to push information to members and to elicit information from members.  The problem with that?  Privacy and liability.  Not all people understand how to use mass mailings and email links in a manner which hides individual emails from all others, thereby spreading personal contact information. So let’s use Facebook, yes? Nothing wrong with Facebook.  I use it to communicate with my choirs – although here again some refuse to get a Facebook account.  But the choral profession will never control Facebook, et al.  Those commercial sites will never be responsive to our specific needs. They are geared towards personal and social communication. Furthermore, they are large enough targets to be infinitely appealing to repeated and continuous hacking.  Through ChoralNet Communities we are building a safe, professional, and useful environment by which to conduct our business.  I am more and more convinced we can do this and now we have set a clear path to that goal.
 
 
[Frank Albinder is well-known to the choral world at large due to his many activities throughout a distinguished career.  What many may not know is that he has been associated with ChoralNet since its early days, served on the Board of Directors prior to its merger with ACDA, and continues to serve as a moderator and on the ChoralNet committee that governs ChoralNet activities.]
 
We'd like to think that ChoralNet is a fairly intuitive website, but we volunteer moderators also understand that nothing is as easy as we think it is!
 
This reminder is about replying or responding to messages in our various forums. When replying to a post you see on ChoralNet, if you click any of the numerous Reply buttons that appear within a thread, your message will be posted publicly and be visible to the entire ChoralNet community. So if someone asks for repertoire suggetions on a particular theme and you have some good ideas, click Reply and post the message to the thread.
 
If, however, you'd like to communicate privately with someone on ChoralNet, you have two options. If you want to respond privately to a poster, just click on the envelope icon next to their name and you will be able to send them a message directly that will not be posted to the public forum.
 
If you don't see an envelope icon, just click on the person's name. You'll be taken to their ChoralNet user page where you can click on Contact This User to send them a private message.
 
So if your message has information that will benefit those who visit ChoralNet, post it publicly. If you're sharing personal information, offering individual thanks or need to communicate something else that wouldn't be of use or interest to the general public, then send a private message by clicking that envelope icon or clicking the name of the person you'd like to contact.
 
Thank you for using ChoralNet! As alway's we're here to help, so feel free to contact us through the Help tab on the ChoralNet home page.
  • Normally announcements aren't meant to be replied to, but if you need to contact the author, click on the icon next to the author's name above.
 
 
Today's visitors to the site have probably noticed a few new features. The most obvious is we've moved the Partner ads to the footer of the page, and added a new Partner: Songlearning.com from Hammond Music Service. Congrats to Hammond!
 
We've also made a lot of changes to speed up the site: among other things, sidebar content loads after the rest of the page is already loaded.
 
More upgrades:
  • We've eliminated paging on long lists, such as the forum listings. When you scroll to the bottom of the screen, the list will automatically increase in size.
  • The "Who's online?" section will automatically update itself as other people use ChoralNet; if you need to get in touch with another user, you'll know when they're actually using the site.
  • Searches are much more comprehensive, allowing you to filter your results and sort them, plus they allow searches for phrases "in quotes" and terms to be excluded using -minus signs.
  • You can see all the items ever created by a particular user (or yourself) by viewing their user page and then clicking "View all..." in their sidebar. You can also filter these results by type. This might be useful when you remember posting something a while ago but can't find it.
Don't hesitate to let us know if you have questions about these features, or if they aren't working propertly on your system.
 
Complete new feaure list:
  1. Moved partner logos to fixed position at bottom
  2. Greatly improved search features
  3. Long lists automatically increase in length when you scroll to bottom of screen — no more paging
  4. Live Who's online section in sidebar will automatically update as new users are active on the site
  5. Live Moderate menu (moderators only) will automatically refresh every 60 seconds
  6. "Recently viewed pages" loaded after page loads, for faster performance
  7. Recent forums, announcements, classifieds, choirs, users kept in buffer for faster home-page performance
  8. Rounded corners on menus and colored boxes throughout site (only visible on some browsers)
  9. User-page sidebar, where the listing of recent items by the given user is shown, now has a "view all" link which shows all the items ever created by that user, filterable by type
  10. When users' emails have been stopped due to bouncing, they get a link in the upper right-hand corner which allows them to reset their mail status.
 
 
If you're a conductor who's interested in performing new music (that is, recently written), but have found the offerings from publishers dull, and the experience of surfing composers' personal websites frustrating, ChoralNet is working on the solution. We'd like to create a Composers' Marketplace where composers could list their works for sale and conductors could easily find lots of new choral music all in one place.
 
What would make this Marketplace more useful for you? How could you find pieces which match the ability level of your ensembles, are in styles you like, and aren't just bad? This Marketplace is in the planning stages; this is your chance to help shape it so it's more useful for all conductors, not a morass of junk like some websites we won't mention.
 
Come to the Composers' Marketplace Planning Group, a ChoralNet Community dedicated to discussing the best options, and let us know what you'd find useful. Ideally we're looking for a few members who will commit to sticking out the discussion to the bitter end, but anyone's input is welcome. Drop by and join the discussion!
 
Another congressman goes up in smoke because of his (mis)use of Twitter.  A girl has 15,000 "guests" show up for her 16th birthday party because she did not understand that her Facebook settings allowed anyone to view her party announcement. Are you beginning to wonder about the benefits of online networking?
 
I don't know about you, but I don't have much time for Facebook anymore.  I find it useful for keeping in touch with family and friends, but it's not where I go for professional contacts.  I have a Twitter account, but last looked at it about two years ago.  I have a YouTube channel and will probably use it more this year, since my institution is getting serious about its use for university recruiting. I am in that strange borderland between generations - old enough to have been on the ground floor of personal computing, email, and internet but very happily connected to the millenial generation and completely immersed in the use of smartphones, social networking, and constant digital input.  I understood what my best tenor meant when I, about to begin rehearsal, told him to put the phone away (HTC Incredible, same as me) and he replied, "But, it's Angry Birds!".  If you don't know, don't ask.
 
Here at ChoralNet, we've been in the online networking business for eighteen years.  It was in April of 1993 that I launched a little email exchange forum for choral directors.  Before the world wide web, before Yahoo, before MySpace, before IFCM or ACDA or Chorus America or anyone else was online, we were there. A few of you reading this were there also and are still out there and involved. Choralist began as a free service created by choral musicians for choral musicians for the benefit of the choral profession. ChoralNet is still here - after Facebook, after Napster, after Twitter, after I-Tunes.
 
Why has ChoralNet endured? Because it is your safe, professional social networking site. Do we have all the bells and whistles of Facebook?  Of course not.  We don't have a gazillion programmers and tons of advertising dollars.  But because ChoralNet is focused on a relatively small professional group, it also means that your account is unlikely to get hacked or that you will be contacted via ChoralNet by someone who is unsafe or has unscrupulous purposes. Spammers are after money and the bigger you get, the more money spammers can make.
 
Everyone who creates an account on ChoralNet is vetted.  New users are not considered "verified" until they have had enough ChoralNet activity to have passed one of our filtering mechanisms and proven that they are a legitimate choral professional.  This might be posting a message to a forum - because all forum messages are approved by one of our ChoralNet moderators, a dedicated team of unsung heros who toil in the shadows to ensure that 99% of all things posted to ChoralNet are not spam or unprofessional.  Until a ChoralNet user creates a user profile, posts to a comunity forum, or something similar, they are probationary. Are we perfect.  Nope.  But I know when I get an email message via ChoralNet that it is from another choral professional.  There is a lot to be said for that because I receive about 250 messages daily.
 
The American Choral Directors Association has recognized ChoralNet as the best place to create its communications network and has endorsed ChoralNet Communities as its official medium.  I urge all choral professionals to join that trend by 1) using your ChoralNet profile as your professional online page or at least linking your existing webpage(s) to your ChoralNet profile; 2) strengthening your professional networking by joining your state, division, and R&S ChoralNet community.; and 3) getting involved in the improvement of our system.  You have very little impact on the operation and improvement of the big social networking sites because you are one of millions of users.  ChoralNet exists of and for choral musicians.  If it isn't what you want or need, it can be - but you have to make your wishes known.
 
Frankly, I do not like inappropriate email, ads, and solicitations.  Why do we get so excited about attending international, national, division, and local choral gatherings? Because we are able to focus on what's important to us as choral professionals without the superfluous getting in the way. Within two years there will no longer be separate ACDA and ChoralNet websites.  You can be involved in that process. Let's make ChoralNet our professional online home and a constant, ongoing meeting place for choral musicians.
 
[The above cartoon by Peter Steiner has been reproduced from page 61 of July 5, 1993 issue of The New Yorker, (Vol.69 (LXIX) no. 20) only for academic discussion, evaluation, research and complies with the copyright law of the United States as defined and stipulated under Title 17 U. S. Code.
In my last post, I described two of the changes that have been made to allow ChoralNet communities to operate more efficiently as a communication tool for the profession.  Here are some of the other changes that you may notice:
 
 
Community Editors have a new tool to read subscription settings.  Now community editors will be able to see what their community members’ subscriptions settings are. In that manner they will know who in the community is receiving immediate notifications and who is not. This is vital for, say, a state ACDA president who has an important message for the state membership. If they have 4-5 persons whose subscriptions are not set for individual emails, they then have the option of sending those persons direct messages via normal ChoralNet mail – clicking their name and sending them a message.
Community Editors can edit posts. In the days of email lists, editing a post by a subscriber was considered to be censorship. But with communities being increasingly used as replacements for websites and print newsletters, editors need to have the ability to make changes when a typographical error or similar submission errors occur. So we have given them that ability.
Community Editors can re-order the items on the left sidebar of the community.  One thing we know for certain, each community has its own personality and needs. One size does not fit all. I personally run three different communities and have different priorities for each. Some communities may wish their Members list to be easily accessible and so want it at the top of the left sidebar. Others may want the Library or Tagged Items more visible.  Now editors can change these at will.
The only constant is change. The system keeps being tweaked to provide our users with the best possible tools with which to network and communicate. Over the next few blogs I will detail some very important changes in the ways in which communities operate. These changes will make communities more user-friendly and allow ACDA and other entities to use communities as its communications networks – which is why communities were created. The first two, and probably most important are:
 
1)      All community subscriptions will be set to individual emails. There are many persons subscribed to communities who never receive messages that are posted on the community forums or notices about new items added to the community libraries. This is because whenever someone subscribed to a community their community notifications were set to default to whatever their overall ChoralNet subscriptions were. That situation meant that anyone whose ChoralNet forum notifications were set to digest (a weekly compilation ofall posts to their subscribed forums) was not getting immediate messages from their communities. While a digest format may be great for a weekly update on the ChoralNet repertoire forums, such a setting is not necessarily the best way to communicate within a state ACDA community. So we have made individual emails the default for communities. I would recommend that all community users leave their settings that way for at least a month, just to test the system. If, after that month, you feel that you are receiving too much mail in your inbox from your ChoralNet communities, you can go into your subscriptions settings – located under the My ChoralNet tab on your home page – and set your subscriptions to manage your notifications in any manner you so desire. Be aware that if you wish to be kept abreast of recent happenings in your community, that changing from individual email will take you out of that immediacy loop.
2)      Community Editors will receive all notifications. In the past, a community editor did not receive postings to the community.  The initial assumption was that they would be approving everything and therefore did not need to see it again.  But with many ACDA chapters replacing their websites with ChoralNet communities, most communities will have multiple editors. With multiple editors, if one editor approved a post, the rest would not see it – not a good situation especially when the editors are likely to be the leadership of that community.
 
In the next post, other community changes will be described. 
 
I found out today that at least one person is reading this blog.  Saw Kerry Burtis from California - we were on the very first ACDA technology committee together back in the late 1990's (when ACDA formed the group just to ignore it).  He laughed at the photo of Philip's paper notepad.
 
But the real reason for this blog - and I swear I am not doing this to make those who could not make it to Chicago jealous - is that for a change I am not going to talk about ChoralNet or technology.  Kerry and I had our exchange after being witness to one of the most outstanding performances I have seen at an ACDA conference.
 
I began going to to ACDA conventions in 1973 (stop doing the math. Yes, I'm old).  I've heard many outstanding choral performances at ACDA as well as at Marktoberdorf, Namur, etc., etc.  Today I wept at the end of a performance, and those who know me personally would tell you that such a reaction by me would be totally out of character.  The instigators of those tears?  The University of Kentucky mens chorus.
 
Jeff Johnson prepared a programme and a group of young men that combined musicianship, vocality, and entertainment enough to warrant such a reaction not only from me, but the guy sitting next to me.  Kudos to Johnson, the men in the chorus, and to ACDA for inviting these guys.  The United States government should put these guys on retainer as ambassadors of USA goodwill and send them out across the globe.  I suppose that's impractical in this age of smaller government, but what a great thought.  I cannot describe what the UK group did but could urge you all to buy the DVD (not just the CD) so you might have a glimpse into what went on.  Here's a YouTube link that shows one of the pieces they did, but in an earlier format, not with the staging they did.
 
 
Garrison Keillor: "It's been a quiet week ....."

Not so here in Chicago this week. It is becoming apparent that ChoralNet is going to become the main communications system for the American Choral Directors Association. There are several reasons why it is imperative for this to happen.

Newsletters are disappearing in favor of online media. No news there. But did you know that both email and web-based communications are declining in favor of mobile written communications? Last year old-fashioned email use (how's *that* for a strange phrase?) declined by over 20% while text use increased by almost 10%.

Mobile devices continue to increase in power and features. It's clear that more and more people will find it easier to access their communications in that manner.
ChoralNet is being positioned to take advantage of of these devices.

ACDA needs and wants better communication from bottom to top and throughout the organization. Executive Director Tim Sharp has challenged us to make ChoralNet Communities the social networking tool for the choral world.

How will we meet this challenge? Here are some ideas:

1. The ACDA website and ChoralNet websites will become one.
2. All ACDA members will automatically be registered on ChoralNet when they pay their dues.
3. Ease of use will continue to improve
4. Features will continue to be added.

Exciting times ahead.

BTW, just in case you thought that all of the people associated with ChoralNet were some kind of super-geeks who would only use the latest and greatest technology, the link below will display how Philip Copeland, ACDA's Technology Chair (and straight man to Frank Albinder's stand-up comedy during ChoralNet meetings), takes notes during meetings.

http://www.choralnet.org/paint/280406

P.S. This blog was created and uploaded entirely with the HTC Incredible phone.

 
Many of the folks who help run ChoralNet or have been involved with it for years are meeting for lunch tomorrow.  We'll meet in the main lobby of the Hilton downtown at 11:45am at the area in front of the elevators and go from there.  If you're interested, come join us.
 
Typing this while in line to register for the national ACDA convention next to former national presidents and current division presidents. Couple of thoughts:

A) It doesn't matter who you are in ACDA, we're all in it together. As much as Diana Leland (for example) has done, she stands in line to get her badge.

B) This is my first blog done completely by mobile phone. Did you know that last year email by web declined 6% while email by mobile devices increased 36%?

Signs of the times. Oops! I'm at the front of the line finally!

Later.

 
 
ChoralNet will play a part in the proceedings in Chicago as several of us work behind the scenes in various capacities.  If you have every wanted to get some F2F time with the people behind ChoralNet, many of us are planning to have an informal gathering for lunch Thursday, mostly likely 11:00-1:00.  Moderators, administrators, systems managers, and others of long-standing history with ChoralNet will be available for you to meet, greet, and discuss.
 
 
 
If you are interested in joining us, please let me know, as it makes a difference if we have six people or twenty people.  No meeting place has yet been determined, so make your reservations now!
 
This whole blog may sound self-serving.  Hope not, but there you are.
 
This past weekend my Facebook account was hacked.  Somehow a virus got implanted into my Facebook account and was sent out to all of  the contacts in my Facebook account.  This would not be much of an issue were my Facebook contacts only social ones but, unfortunately, I, like most Facebook users, have made the mistake of using Facebook as a connecting point for both social and professional acquaintances.
 
To my dismay, my professional contacts were subjected to spam from this pervasive Facebook virus simply because I had befriended them.  How embarassing!  Worse yet, I was the unfortunate recipient of many (well-meaning) messages advising me how to avoid such situations.... as if I did not know that one should not open unknown attachments!  [It's not like I'm an online newbie, ya know.] Due to my exposed position in the virtual community, I happen to be a target for daily spam attacks. I have pretty stringent protections in place, and I follow pretty careful personal rules.  None of that had any bearing in this instance.
 
It is interesting that many of those who are quick to condemn Microsoft Outlook and Internet Explorer for their security weaknesses continue to use Facebook as if Facebook's security is better.  It is not.  I have been sufficiently sobered by the weekend's events to renew my efforts to urge others to use ChoralNet for professional contacts and Facebook for personal/social ones. I am confident that ChoralNet's system is fairly secure.  Even if ChoralNet does not have the same resources as Facebook, it is smaller. Because ChoralNet is not the Goliath that Facebook is, it flies beneath the radar of most hackers. Furthermore, our systems manager, Martin Knowles, keeps a vigilant watch against unauthorized access. Allen  Simon, our webmaster, has devised a system that keeps spammers from becoming registered ChoralNet users. 
 
If you have not created a ChoralNet profile yet, do so.  Together let us create a safe professional environment for online choral music networking. Use ChoralNet Communities as a replacement for Facebook groups.  Urge your colleagues to register on ChoralNet and create a professional persona there. Place your photos and comments and such there were they will be seen and read by an audience dedicated to the choral art. I think we'll all benefit.
 
... to be busier than a frog in a mosquito patch.  As I write this, I have already completed one rehearsal today and have two more rehearsals and two performances yet to go before I'm done tonight.
 
For those of you who have figured out that online shopping is one of the best ways to manage your time during this craziest of times for choral musicians; do not forget when using     or  that when you go to their website from ChoralNet, ChoralNet receives a portion of the proceeds. And it works whether you're buying something related to music or not.  I'm always amazed at what I can find on Amazon.  Last week I was contemplating keeping an ancient computer around simply because it had a 3.5 floppy disk drive and I have some old files stored on those diskettes.  My (brilliant) wife quickly went from ChoralNet to Amazon and found a $15.00 (!!) drive that plugs into a USB port on my laptop.
If you want to buy something in the music field, don't forget ChoralNet's other supporters.  or  or any of the links on the right side of your ChoralNet webpage take you to the websites of companies that have been helping support ChoralNet for years.  Why not buy your favorite singer a great musicfolder? (If you've never tried one yourself, you should).  Or maybe a vocal solo collection?  When you shop online, support ChoralNet by shopping from the ChoralNet website and using our sponsors.
 
Allen Simon, our webmaster, pointed me towards the Illinois State University Student Conducting Community on ChoralNet where Sarah Graham is using a ChoralNet Community with her choral conducting class to get her students connected to the choral world and the online resources that ChoralNet makes available to them.  Just a few of the discoveries her students made when instructed to explore the resources available on ChoralNet and the ACDA website include:
  • ..the radio station on here is awesome....
  • Under "Technology for Choral Music," the link for "MIDI Files" brought me to a selection of web pages that offered MIDI recordings of choral works
  • This was a page I found about various ways to recruit boys into a choir, specifically a middle school one
  • I did some reading on "Larynx Problems in a Young Singer" found under voice, vocal production.  (http://www.choralnet.org/view/220530)
Sarah gives her students specific assignments designed to get them to thinking about the choral art and how they approach challenges when they become choral conductors.
 
We're happy that ChoralNet Communities are being used in such an inventive and productive manner.  Have you joined a community?  Have you used it to network with others?  Do you know if all the members of your community are subscribed to the forum or blog?  What do you find useful?  What would you like to see improved or added?
 
Let us know.
 
In June, at the ACDA national leadership conference, we received many suggestions for improvements (keep them coming!).  One of those was a method to track messages that one sends on ChoralNet to other ChoralNet users.
 
As of yesterday, this feature is now activated.  Any message you send to someone else on ChoralNet will also be sent to you so that you can keep a copy for your records.  Another feature that moves ChoralNet into a more professional mode of communication.
 
ChoralNet has just taken another step to becoming the choral networking site you want.

In June a new tab labeled Communities appeared at the top of the ChoralNet screen.  Communities allows groups of ChoralNet users to band together for professional communication purposes. Over the next months we'll be continuing to improve and refine this feature to allow individuals with joint interests (South Dakota ACDA, International Federation for Choral Music, etc.) to meet within the safe, professional confines of ChoralNet to share information and ideas.

Today,  My ChoralNet  debuts. This feature brings additional aspects of the social networking concept into the professional world of ChoralNet.


If you are a registered user of ChoralNet you already have a personal user page.  Clicking this new tab takes you to your personal page.  You should set up your page as your professional choral identity.  You can add photos, links, and other formatting to personalize yourself to the choral world.  Mine has hyperlinks to important non-ChoralNet websites and also lists the ChoralNet communities which I have joined.

But the new  My ChoralNet   tab has additional areas that allow you to better personalize and control your ChoralNet experience.

Read My Subscriptions channels onto a single page everything on ChoralNet about which you have indicated interest. If you want to better manage how you receive your ChoralNet information, this is where you do it.  Make this page your browser homepage and it becomes your professional choral mailbox!

Subscription Email Options gives you the ability to finetune the ways in which you receive ChoralNet information. Many of the "old-timers" will remember the early days of Choralist when everyone suddenly gained access to the Internet and began posting anything and everything to ChoralNet.  Suddenly our mailboxes were bursting with Choralist messages! This feature allows you to tell ChoralNet what subscriptions you wish to receive as individual email messages and which you might prefer as an index or digest. For instance, I might want to receive my SD-ACDA community messages as individual emails because I'll get them in my email inbox as soon as they are posted to the community forum. But there may be less need for immediacy for one of the other ChoralNet communties or forums to which I have subscribed.  I can set those to index or digest.  The Subscriptions Email Options page is accompanied by a great set of help instructions for those confused over the many possibilities.

There is an item on my screen labeled South Dakota. When I registered with ChoralNet I indicated that I lived in South Dakota. So, all items on ChoralNet that are pertinent to South Dakota are listed on that page with hyperlinks that allow me to quickly jump to them.  Another way that ChoralNet is quickly becoming uniquely personalized to every individual user.

Want to change your password without trying to find out how?  Now you have a tab labelled Change Password which will allow you to quickly and easily change your password for ChoralNet.

I would be remiss if I were to not acknowledge the work of webmaster Allen Simon and systems manager Martin Knowles. They are very good at taking our suggestions and making them work.
 
ChoralNet exists because choral musicians wanted to be able to do something and created a mechanism for doing so. It has always been a "bottom-up" process. Try these new features. Tell us what you find useful and what you do not. ChoralNet will be what you make it.
 
 
One of the great things about working with smart people is that you get dragged along into things that you probably wouldn't have done by yourself.
 
Long ago the Choralist Advisory Group began holding meetings online via email and when ChoralNet incorporated the Board of Directors continued that practice to become one of the first corporations in the U.S. to hold its board meetings asynchronously over the internet.  Now, in its new iteration as the ChoralNet Committee of the American Choral Directors Association, we have accomplished another first - at least for us.
 
We just completed a committee meeting completely over smartphones.  We drafted and approved a policy for ChoralNet Communities using texting, email, and Google documents. Did you know that the U.S. government just authorized doubling the amount of bandwidth available for wireless networking?  Pulling out my crystal ball, I predict that a) as computing devices grow ever more handy (the European term for mobile phones, BTW)  with Ipads, smartphones, Archos tablets, and the like and b) mobile access gets ever better; the line between single function devices will continue to disappear and we'll be able to carry on what used to happen only in certain places anywhere we wish.The Luddites may scream, "But I don't want to be that accessible!"  Perhaps not, but the problem is not technology - it's how you use it.
When you wish to speak with a co-worker, do you a) send an email, b) use the phone, or c) walk down the hall to their office?
 
Department of Redundancy Department ......
That blog title sounds like it, doesn't it?  Well, it's not quite that redundant, as it turns out.
 
The other day, I had the opportunity to speak to Aimee Beckmann-Collier, North-Central division ACDA president, who was asking about the possibilities of ChoralNet Communities.  In the course of bragging up the whole concept [It's not just a website, it's not just a blog, it's not just a forum, it's not just a communications device - it's all of that and probably more] she asked,
How does one learn how to use it? Can we get trained on it?
I told her that I'd start a community just for community editors - the folks who start and run a ChoralNet Community.  And so I did.
 
Here it is.  If you are a community editor and wish to share or gain information, join us. Help us all do our jobs better.