I was hoping that Monday’s article about the "Ode To A Ford" project would spark a comment or two about the added value Ford’s microsite added to what is a straight-up viral ad campaign. I remember having a conversation with a colleague who doesn’t work in the orchestra business and isn’t a musician about a year ago and we were talking about the quality of orchestra website education sites. In general, we concluded that most weren’t very educational from the perspective of getting the user involved in the subject material. "As someone who doesn’t know much about classical music to begin with, I don’t come away from educational pages feeling like I learned anything." …
I sent this same friend a link to Monday’s article and asked him to check out Ford’s microsite,
especially the web app that functions as a tack based music player that
allows you to mute and control the volume for each of the eight
individual tracks. He loved it and said that he could pick out each
individual instrument or groups of instruments after playing around
with the web app, all of which built a stronger connection to the music
and a greater sense of appreciation for the overall product. Doesn’t
that sound like the sort of connection everyone in this business is
trying to foster?
The effort to get something like this going certainly isn’t
prohibitive. I remember attending a performance of a Brandenburg
concerto last season from Frankly Music, Frank Almond‘s
chamber music series, and thinking how cool it would be if you could
take that piece and create a DVD or online app that allowed the user to
play around with each instrument in exactly the same way the Ford
microsite web app does.
Thinking back to my private teaching days, I used to help
students (especially adults) interested in learning more about
orchestra music develop some confidence in their listening skills by
teaching them how to distinguish one instrument sound from another. I
used my CD from what seems like an ancient "The Study Of Orchestration"
textbook from conservatory days because it had some acceptable snippets
featuring each instrument. I would then break out some orchestra
excerpt CDs, play the excerpt then that same excerpt from a recording
of the entire work.
It was infinite fun to see the light flick on when they
realized they could pull out each instrument sound and not just in the
piece which featured the excerpt but in other pieces as well. After
that, we would eventually end up at a live concert armed with a pair of
binoculars so they could confirm their new listening skills by having a
better view of when players were and were not playing. It didn’t take
long to develop an extraordinarily effective pattern for developing
these skills and I never had a student that didn’t enjoy that part of
lessons (I can’t say the same thing for their technical exercises).
So why not do something like this via a series of web apps? In
fact, I can easily see this being developed and then licensed to
orchestras for use at their respective websites. If any
foundations/donors/organizations out there are interested in developing
the idea I already have a good portion of the details worked out, just
send me an email.