My passion is to help others in the community, young, old, and everyone in between, find relevance and joy in learning, performing or listening to classical music.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Twitter is not just for the birds

Image from Wikimedia Commons
I am addicted to Twitter.  Really, truly, I am.  

A year ago I would have never predicted that I would write a blog post about this most poetic form of social media.  I first stuck my toe into the Twitterverse in an effort to help my husband figure it all out since someone at his work was suggesting that Twitter was the up-and-coming way to network.  Ironically, or maybe not so ironically, I haven't encountered many other folks from my husband's workplace in my twitter encounters.  But I have certainly found myself knee-deep in a most extraordinary virtual world that has captured my attention in many fabulous ways and that is transforming, yes that's what I said, transforming my life in a very multi-dimensional way.

Don't believe me?  Then read on.  Here is my list of reasons for why I think Twitter is not just for the birds.  And to help any non-initiated readers get a taste of what tweets are like, I've written this list a-la-Twitter.

Tweet 1: The Twitterverse can be a very optimistic and encouraging place to be.  
Since I have been relatively selective in who I follow and take the time to "unfollow" anyone that is tweeting anything offensive, negative, or rude, I find that just about any time I drop in, I find myself smiling and humming a happy tune.

Tweet 2: Most tweeps (twitterers) in Twitterland follow the same rules of etiquette that is taught in kindergarten.
The golden rule, saying thank you all of the time, respecting one another's privacy...although it seems like these should be a given, out in the real world we all have experienced a lack of decorum here and there, or maybe even the majority of the time.  Bit in Twitterland I have been shocked, amazed, and touched by the incredible politeness that pervades its users.  This reinstills in me every day the joy that comes from being a good, decent human being.

Tweet 3: There is a lot of humor to be found in Twitterland.
Perhaps it takes a sense of humor to be willing to try Twitter in the first place.  That's partly how I got started.  I was actually determined to prove that Twitter was ridiculous and found it quite amusing to try and succeed in that vein.  Alas, the joke was on me, I guess, and now I'm along for the ride each and every day.

Tweet 4: There is something powerful about the support one can get in Twitterland.
Possibly because most of the people I follow and that follow me are people I have never met in person and that have no real obligation towards me, I am constantly awestruck by the support that I get on Twitter.  If I have a problem, I go to Twitter.  If I am discouraged, I go to Twitter.  If I need get the picture.  And even if I ask a crazy question, I usually get an answer...almost instantly.  I find it mind boggling that people I don't really know care about what I'm doing and who I am, whether it's the cellist-me that's tweeting, the pianist-me, the mommy musician-me, the wife-me...there's support there for every facet of me.  

Tweet 5: My tweeps give me a constant stream of videos to watch, sound files to listen to, people to pay attention to.  
I have always felt like I never have time to listen to music and to be learning about new performers, old performers, composers, etc...But now, as I go through the many tweets that are tweeted by my tweeps (Twitter friends), I pick up clip after clip, new person after new person.  There are tweeps like @pnoman, the director of an International Piano Festival out in Portland, Oregon, that is constantly tweeting about famous pianists both living and dead.  Often, those tweets include links to youtube videos.  I have learned about more pianists in the past year via Harold Gray (@pnoman) than I did in all of my years in school.  Now that's not any comment on my education, it's just an example of how much Twitter can be an education.  I can even relive those famous drop-the-needle tests that I had in school, where a short clip of music is played and we are to figure out what piece of music the clip is from and who wrote it.  Every Wednesday, Grant Charles Chaput (@GCComposer) posts a quiz on his incredible website, Killing Classical Music.  It's really quite fun! Wait, I just got an idea - maybe Twitter should start giving out degrees?  Hmmm...

Tweet 6: Twitter gives me instant access to many interesting musicians of all levels and all ages.
I regularly tweet with many pianists that have performing careers around the world and the discussions that we sometimes have are fascinating.  It is also fun to tweet with them about everyday things, some of which have nothing to do with music.  Twitter makes everyone more normal, more real somehow and I find that so refreshing.  And there are some musicians that are currently in music school that for some reason or another, enjoy tweeting with me.  Even though most of them know I'm not a concert pianist travelling all over the world, performing with the cream of the crop, I think they enjoy interacting with me and sometimes even asking for advice on fingerings or repertoire.  It's a bit surreal but I'll take it!  And recently there was an interesting day that was called "Ask a Conductor" day in which conductors of orchestras both big and small, asked questions of one another and other non-conductor types asked the conductors questions.  It lasted, I think, all day and was quite interesting to observe.

Tweet 7: Twitter gives me an instant, global view of what is happening in the music world.
We live in a small town where not a whole lot happens that rocks the classical music world.  B.T. (Before Twitter) I used to dream up ideas of things I could do to help increase the classical music fan club and I often wondered if someone else was already doing those things elsewhere. At the time, there really wasn't an easy way to find out that out.  A.T. (After Twitter) I can now find out what's going on all over the world.  I follow the New York Times Arts Department, for example, so I read fascinating reviews and articles there.  And during this past summer, I experienced the Proms in London for the first time.  I didn't even know what the Proms were, at least not the UK version of proms.  It lead me into a fascinating discussion between a follower in Canada and another in the UK about how differently different countries and governments view the arts.  It was eye-opening, inspiring, and frustrating all at the same time.  But that was good, very good.  

Tweet 8: Because I follow folks with whom I share many interests and views, I am constantly receiving links to articles that more often than not, strike a chord with me.
Similar to Tweet 4, my education is further fueled by the many interesting links to blog posts, journal articles, and webpages.  It's amazing to me how many tweeps I follow also write incredible blogs.  But perhaps it really isn't that amazing.  After all, I'm finding that Twitter really can be a place for thinkers, doers, and dreamers and it's those types of people that also tend to write a lot.  How wonderful!  Again, it's instant information at my fingertips.  It's like opening the world up with each tweet being read.  OK, I admit, not every tweet is educational.  That's true.  But you would be surprised, I think, about how much of it is.  

Tweet 9: Twitter enables me to have conversations with like-minded (or not like-minded) individuals that I don't feel I could have by walking down the street here in small-town USA.  
Funny conversations, enlightening conversations, inspiring conversations, educational name it.  In tweeting with some folks tonight about the difference between Facebook and Twitter, one of my tweeps stated that Twitter is a conversation whereas Facebook is mostly just status-postings.  I feel the same way.  It is quite rare that I get into any sort of serious discussion on Facebook which is quite odd when you consider the 140-character limit that Twitter places on its users.  But twitterers somehow seem to manage just fine.  In fact, I've found that it can be enlightening to have to try and pare down your thoughts into a tweet or two - quite the feat if you're someone like me, who tends to write long blog posts! (Ahem...)

Tweet 10: Twitter inspires interesting projects and collaborations
Through Twitter I have partnered up with a pianist in the UK, (you can follow Yukie (@yukiest) and I  at @MusicalPinC, an abbreviation for Musical Partners in Crime) putting together recordings of piano duets that we've each recorded on our own side of the pond and merged to create one recording.  I have discovered a wonderful young composer (@DanielBarkley) over in Northern Ireland and I'm currently learning one of his solo piano pieces, and hopefully another soon.  A possible recording and collaboration is in the works with clarinetist Marion Harrington (@MazzaClarinet), who currently lives in Spain.  I have connected and worked with Greg Sandow (@GSandow), a critic, composer, journalist, and writer that is currently working on a book about the future of classical music.  Seeing him work and think has been an education and a wonderful experience. There are many other fun things in the works thanks to Twitter that I could never have dreamed up myself!

So there you have tweets about tweets.  I'm sorry I didn't confine myself to 140 characters for this blog post.  I guess you'll just have to meet me on Twitter to see the more succinct-me :-)  Go know you want to.  Just click on this cute little birdie button to get started.  It won't hurt.  Promise.
Follow ericasipes on Twitter

Happy Tweeting!  
And practicing, of course!!

For more posts about Twitter and tweeting, here are some other posts:
What to do with this thing called Twitter
Making heads or tails out of Twitter


  1. I love this, Erica! I'm tweeting it right now.



  2. Great post, Erica. You're absolutely right about Twitter. I often tell my real life friends that I prefer Twitter over Facebook and they just don't get it. I think it has to do with what a great group of interesting and supportive musicians you run into there!

  3. This is an excellent and important post, Erica! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Early on in my experience with Twitter, I noticed that people on Twitter seemed to be unusually nice. At the time I hypothesized that it was because we automatically had something in common - the willingness to participate in such an odd forum. Since then I've also thought that Twitter provides a very easy way for us to all be so helpful, thankful, etc. Sending a tweet can be phenomenally easy, so it's harder to not answer questions, etc. I also think that this general sense of pleasantness might be related to the rise of social media generally. I think it is tracking what I see as the de-institutionalization of society that is leading us to seek more personal relationships with everyone from our co-workers to the stores we buy our goods from. It really is a fascinating time, and I'm glad to be a part of it.

    I'm also glad to have met you as a part of it, Erica.'s really good that you tweeted this post out and it was RTed because I might have missed it otherwise!

    Happy New Year!

    Grant Charles Chaput

  4. Nice post! I agree with most of what you said. I like Twitter, but I feel a little unfulfilled when it comes to the "networking" aspect of it. I can't say for certain that twitter has helped to gain me or my music any more recognition than, say, attending a summer festival. And I don't think that Composition Departments are hip enough yet to care about my Twitter presence when it comes time to offer me a job. Still, it's a lot of fun

  5. Thank you so much, Jennifer and Cathy for your wonderful comments. It's amazing to me and really quite unpredictable which posts are going to strike a chord with people and which aren't. I seriously doubted the interest people, especially twitterers, would have on this post - I wrote it because I really felt that I needed to explain my addiction ;-) So this response has left me humbled and frankly surprised - but in a very, very good way! Thank you for your support and friendship.


  6. Grant, I love, love, love what you have to say about the trend that we are seeing of relationships between every facet of society becoming more personal. I'm enjoying this new direction as well. Here's hoping it will continue for quite some time!

    Thanks again for reading, Grant, and for your input.


  7. Jason,
    Thank you for taking the time to comment and to share your own experience with Twitter. I also replied to you via Twitter but thought I'd also respond here.

    I would definitely say that the first 6 months I was tweeting were fairly quiet ones but they were still interesting and fun. I don't really know what happened next but I think I just started participating more in conversations on a regular basis and that's when I really started to feel like I was developing a network of friends, colleagues, and people that I respect immensely. Now the experience is completely different. I guess that's kind of obvious. ;-)

    Anyway, so I guess I just wanted to share that with you as an encouragement to keep tweeting! Fun is a good thing so I'm glad that is part of your experience as well.

    Happy tweeting and composing. Oh, and by the way, I really love your website!


  8. Erica-

    So true! I joined the Twitterverse a few months ago and was very skeptical of its ability to accomplish anything, but it turned out to be one of those "don't knock it 'til you try it" kinds of things. I love it, and I am thankful that I've had the opportunity to meet you, many of the people you talked about in this post and even some of the ones who have commented here through Twitter. Looking forward to tweeting with you more in 2011!


    -Travis, a.k.a. the @musicapologist

  9. Thank you, Travis. I'm so glad you decided to give twitter a fair chance so that I could meet you and find out about your blog. I find it encouraging to see how many people are out there, sprinkled across the US and farther, who are as obsessed about classical music, and/or the arts in general. It makes this crazy world a much smaller place so that we are more likely to bump into one another now and then.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this post and to comment. I look forward to reading more from you and to further conversations!


  10. This really is a wonderful post. Twitter is an oddity to everyone I know that uses it. It is fun to get on twitter and no one really wants to start using it. But like you said I find it a refreshing community to read and discuss with. I found myself starting on twitter for the networking, but in the end I have found the conversations, links, and forums (particularly the #askaconductor) the most rewarding parts of it. Keep up the blogging.

  11. Josh,
    It's so good to meet you. I love it when people post comments because it makes my little world just a little bit larger. Same with twitter, of course, and I'm so glad to hear that I'm not the only one that enjoys dropping into twitterville now and then. It's such a great place for folks like you that have multiple interests.

    I look forward to learning more about you and to following your tweets now that I've properly "met" you.

    Thank you for taking the time to comment. Happy tweeting, photographing, composing, and everything else you do :-)