Course Reflection

Throughout this course, I found that my storytelling was constantly being refined, and I have found that the refinements that I’ve made in the course work have trickled into my every day writing. The biggest self-editing technique that I have developed is how to hook an audience. It’s so important to draw your audience in with a strong, clear message. If we are strong storytellers, we should be able to build and maintain an audience.

I have also found that writing these regular blog posts throughout the course also allowed me to feel less pressure about my own work. Not in the sense that I should care less, but in the sense that sometimes the material just needs to be out in the world. I was able to make decisions about where to stop my stories, how to continue in the next piece of writing, and create variety, so my work could remain fluid and engaging.

At first, when I looked at the course content, I was a little put off by the amount of small assignments – I usually like assignments that are worth a large percentage of my grade (more bang for my buck. Haha.), but I really enjoyed developing these skills through blogging.

Finding My Niche

I have been incredibly fortunate to make my living performing, and teaching music. Even though I have been able to follow my passion, I have spent an incredible amount of time trying to figure out where I fit in the music world. I think that it’s human nature to question one’s path. Even though I was working a lot, I struggled to define my identity for years, and it wasn’t until I was called to play baritone saxophone on a show that it all became very clear about my path.

After discussing my concerns over being unfocused in my approach with several close friends (and colleagues), I made a switch to being a low woodwind specialist, and for the next few years only focused on those instruments. I had found my niche, and in turn, my business grew (and continues to grow), I finally had an identity. It’s been exciting to be able to focus on one specific concept, and not worry about the other stuff. It’s also an amazing feeling to be recognized by audiences as the “low woodwind guy” in Ottawa, and have an opportunity to work with some of the best musicians who live in or come through the region.

Answering the question “Who am I?” has allowed people to learn about my story.

My Personal Brand – Variety and Flexibility

My personal brand is defined by my flexibility as a performer and teacher. My studio is split evenly between saxophone, clarinet, and flute students, with a little oboe and bassoon sprinkled in, and my performing/recording career is split the same way. It’s not uncommon for me to be running from a cartoon recording session during the day, to a jazz trio gig in the evening, and the next day dropping a sax solo on a pop tune, and then playing a chamber orchestra job in the evening. I love the variety, and the challenge of sounding authentic in every situation that I have to step into, and that is something that my peers recognize that I do well.

Being a flexible musician is only a part of the equation. The other half is being a flexible person – if you’re not a good hang, you’re less likely to be called for work. It’s important for me to answer my emails, texts, and phone calls immediately, it lets the people who are hiring me make their plans, and ultimately, their job less stressful. Also showing up on time is a non-negotiable. Being easy to be around (which includes taking direction), and performing to the standard that is expected by the person who hires me, is how I like my brand to be known.

I do believe that my personal brand can change over time. Maybe one day I’ll narrow down the work that I want to do, or the instruments that I perform on, but I can’t see myself leaving the pursuit of authenticity, and being a positive person behind.

A Brand That’s Charmin Its Audience

For a brand that sells toilet paper, Charmin has an exceptional social media presence which is focused on brand to consumer relations. Charmin is regularly active on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. They also have a Googe+, and a YouTube account, but these platforms are not used for consumer interaction as much as Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. I believe that they are using each platform to their fullest and targeting their audiences well. I am going to focus on their Twitter presence. The Charmin bears are featured on their Instagram page in a variety of “family” settings and their Facebook page is set up to show all of the company’s public service efforts. As I have worked through their social media accounts, it is clear that the company’s social media approach is consumer-centric and therefore makes them a strong business to consumer company.

The company’s Twitter feed is humorous, helpful, and engages with its audience. Charmin has done a great job interacting with their customers and bringing value to their Twitter lives. As I was searching through Charmin’s Twitter feed, I found a number of instances where the company was responding in a light-hearted way to their followers.

They have also tweeted out solutions to the issues with their rolls not fitting in standard toilet paper holders, and offered a roll extended to customers for free. They are facilitating the use of their product by offering free accessories to those who need them – a strong move to gain consumer loyalty.

Publicly going the extra mile with their customers, and taking a lighthearted approach on social media allows Charmin to capitalize on strong brand to consumer relationships that keep the company popular with consumers.

Using Different Platforms to Reach All Audiences

I love all social media platforms, from Twitter to TikTok, Instagram to Pinterest, Facebook to LinkedIn. I have found over my years of developing my brand, that every platform has value when it comes to targeting different demographics.

When I want to build my studio and bring in new students, I turn to LinkedIn. I can advertise to successful business people (some who are parents), and draw their attention by posting tips and tricks for potential students. The same goes for Pinterest, where I have found that the demographic that uses that platform have children who are ready to take music lessons. Twitter is for announcing news, which could be recordings, and shows. I have also found it to be particularly useful to reach companies for new products or gain endorsements. Facebook and Instagram have become my “digital journal”, where I document my process, and connect with like minded musicians, or potential fans. I have become a big fan of TikTok. This is where I get most of my international students – I post short clips of material, and answer questions that potential students my have. It’s also great to collaborate with others.

Personally, I build my advertising around using each of these platforms to their potential by creating media specifically for them. I believe that by tailoring the information, I am able to target the demographics that can help build my business.

Content Creators…Efficient Storytelling Using Technology?

It’s interesting to think about storytelling and how it has evolved. As communicators, the tools that are available to use have made communicating incredibly efficient. If we just focus on media since the television, we can see that the amount of information a Tweet or Reel can rival long-form written word. 

That’s not to say that the written word is unnecessary (personally, I happen to love it), but we have become effective communicators through technology. 

I believe that the tools that content creators and writers use to tell stories in under sixty seconds, or hook us into their blog from a Tweet, follow the same principles of storytelling. I have found that the content creators who I decide to follow and sometimes engage with are great storytellers.

Most importantly, they use their most important piece of content to hook us. They don’t “bury the lead”, sometimes the lead is all they have time to give us, and if we’re so inclined, we follow them. It is also crucial that they move into the storyline quickly, this keeps us engaged, and while giving us hints towards the end result, they never totally give it away. 

With our social media platforms heading towards a visual storytelling medium, it will be important for creators to maintain these storytelling elements to be successful, and build their audience. 

COM0014: Blog #1 – Christmas Staycation

Every Christmas, we travel to Hamilton to stay with my parents for a week, but with the pandemic we decided to stay home and have OUR first Christmas together as a family. My wife and I have two girls, Linnéa, who is three years old, and Elliott, who turned one in November. My wife works as a nurse, and we decided early on that we would limit traveling until a vaccine was out, as she’s dealing with COVID-19 patients regularly. My parents were disappointed that they would miss out on having their granddaughters at Christmas (once they had grandchildren, we became second-class citizens. Haha!), but understood, and I know that they were a little relieved to be able to take the precautions that they we most comfortable with.

As Christmas approached, I realized that I would get to play Santa for the first time. Normally, my stepdad writes the note, helps get the cookies and milk ready (I have a large family and my youngest brother still believes in Santa), and distributes the presents – it’s his time to shine.

On Christmas Eve, we put the cookies, and milk out, opened their Christmas pyjamas, and read a few holiday stories. My wife and I then started pulling the gifts from their hiding spots, and made far too much noise from knocking things over and giggling. We really believed that we were pulling off the perfect crime. We only had one complication – we were finished setting up, and relaxing with adult beverages, when Linnéa had a nightmare. I normally bring her downstairs for ten minutes while she calms down, but this wasn’t an option. She calmed down after several trips to the bathroom to “fill her cup” with water. She was actually trying to sneak a look down the stairs at the tree.

Christmas morning comes, and my three year old, who really understands what happens on December 25th, races into the bedroom at 6:45am, and jumps on me, “MERRY CHRISTMAS….I(‘M) GOING DOWNSTAIRS!” We all jump out of bed, and head downstairs. The tree is lit (my wife is a morning person, she made sure it was ready to go), and the presents were glowing. We spent the morning opening gifts, and looking for batteries.

We relaxed the rest of the day, and ordered in for dinner. My wife and I felt so accomplished. We had given our daughters their first Christmas at home.

The NHL – Entertainment On Ice & Twitter

I am a hockey fan…a huge hockey fan. I have been a Montreal Canadiens fan (despite originally being from Hamilton) my entire life and unless I’m working, I never miss a game. Needless to say, when the NHL announced that they had a safe plan for the playoffs, I was excited.

It’s been interesting to watch the games, each set of teams in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference are playing out of Toronto and Edmonton, but only out of one arena in each city. This gives the playoffs a kind of junior tournament feel – I love it. This detail of one arena per conference is really important because it mean that there is limited ice time.

This became an issue when the Lightning/Blue Jackets (starting at 3pm) game went into its fifth overtime period and the Hurricanes/Bruins game was postponed to the next morning, and it led to several entertaining tweets from the Carolina Hurricanes Twitter account.

The NHL’s Twitter account also had some fun with the Hurricanes when their postponed game went into overtime the next morning.

This is just a taste of the back and forth between the NHL and NHL teams. I think that this has provided an extra level of entertainment, especially since fans are unable to support their teams in person.

Promotional Posts –

Facebook – The NHL – Entertainment On Ice & Twitter https://bit.ly/3kDVtBS

Twitter – The NHL – Entertainment On Ice & Twitter #nhl #canes #lightning #tattletales https://bit.ly/3kDVtBS

Keeping My Toddler Busy During Social Distancing

My daughter, Linnéa is a two year old tornado!

Throughout the year, we keep busy – play dates, tumble class, walks to the park, and even regular trips to the grocery store. All of these activities kept her stimulated, and in all honesty, made my life easier.

I am the daytime parent to both my girls (Elliott was born in November – they’re two years apart). My job is flexible and evening-based and my wife is a nurse who has a day position. At the beginning of the pandemic, when the weather was cold and we had nowhere to go, I had to come up with some solutions for our days.

One of her favourite classes comes from YouTube, from the channel SamCam. Her class starts with a warmup and then moves on to a directed routine. This Frozen routine is one of her favourites. We have made a habit of scheduling them on the same days as her normal tumble class would be and she looks forward to it on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Here’s an action shot!

Finding our entertainment online on bad weather days, or when her sister is napping has been a great discovery when our favourite hang out spots have been closed.

Has anybody else been taking online classes through YouTube?

Promotional Posts –

Facebook – Keeping My Toddler Busy During Social Distancing – https://bit.ly/30y7T68

Twitter – Keeping My Toddler Busy During Social Distancing – https://bit.ly/30y7T68

Staying Visible On Social Media When You Can’t Perform Live

Live performance has made up a large portion of my income for most of my professional life. After being a performer for over 15 years, I have now been fortunate to be able to choose the work that I take on.

I work with a function, or “jobbing” band, The Rock Steadies. We survive on a steady diet of special events – weddings, corporate functions, Christmas parties, and black tie galas. Our promo video is an amalgamation of our favourite songs (and songs we think potential clients would like to hear) and our work comes from potential clients see us live and thinking that our band would be a good fit for their event.

This is our standard promo video.

Before social media gained any sort of mainstream attention, the hustle to get work was hard – get a band, rehearse the band, make a demo, contact a wedding planner, present at a wedding show and hope that someone would hire you. It was part of the process, grinding or paying your dues.

Let’s move forward a few years and check our promotional toolbox – concerts are now on YouTube, one minute Instagram posts, Facebook Live and so many other outlets are available to musicians. These tools have become especially useful in these times of social distancing.

We decided to make a push for some weddings in 2021. All of our weddings were moved from April through October to 2021, but we still wanted to see if we could fill up the remaining dates.

Along with many other artists in the same situation as we were, The Rock Steadies made a socially distanced collaboration video.

The result have been favourable – we have picked up several events for the summer of 2021 and from a visibility standpoint, we have noticed that our website has been seeing more traffic.

Have any of your favourite artists performed in socially distanced settings, whether it be a collaboration video, or live streaming?

Promotional Posts

Facebook – Staying Visible On Social Media When You Can’t Perform Live

Twitter – How We Stayed Visible When We Couldn’t Perform Live #music #partyband #therocksteadies #wefillyourdancefloorup