I was pretty surprised to learn one of our 3 year old’s preschool teachers from last year, “Miss Alana,” is not only a fun teacher who my daughter loves– she is also a singer in a local Oklahoma City rock band which has a very active MySpace page! Of course MySpace started as a social networking site for startup bands like hers (Hollow) to connect with fans and reach out to a broader audience. Her band is currently saving money to participate in an upcoming conference/seminar event in Estes Park, Colorado where they’re hoping to get “noticed” and break out. Evidently many in the music industry, including Michael W. Smith, have gotten their big break via this event.

This is certainly a sign of our flat world and the existence of “the new read-only” and “the new read-write” media in our culture. “Hey, guess what kids? You’re teacher is a rock star! And we can see her performing on YouTube, as well as go to a local concert later this month where she’ll be singing.”

I don’t think people of any age, who are musicians and want to share their voice with the world, have ever lived in a better time to realize that dream than today. It is going to be fun to follow Alana and her fellow band-members in Hollow to see where they go on their musical journey. I listened to a couple of their songs last night on MySpace at home, and was struck by how important VOICE and CREATIVITY are. I’m not a musical expert, but it seems to me that a huge piece of whether or not a band like Hollow “makes it” out in the wider music industry is whether they have really creative, original songwriters who are passionate about sharing a message with the world. There are lots of people who can sing, play guitar, or play drums. The difference between a group of people who just get together and make noise and a group who are able to literally strike a chord in your soul is based on their voice, their passion, their message and their abilities to synergistically communicate at a level beyond mere “lettracy.” (Text-based literacy, in the parlance of Papert.) Do the members of Hollow have these abilities and this potential? I don’t know, I think I will get a better feel for that (for what my opinion is worth in that regard) when I see them in concert (live) later this summer!

photo of the band Hollow

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  • Wes,

    First of all, on MySpace everyone is a rock star! MySpace just provides some of the publicity, promotion and distribution afforded many fewer acts by the traditional marketplace. The question is whether or not all of these new “stars” have talent.

    It’s great that “Miss Alana” has expertise aside from her job as a preschool teacher. Most (school-based) learning environments are severely hampered by an accute lack of expertise. Even if that expertise has nothing to do with content knowledge, there are all sorts of tacit lessons and habits of mind children learn by being in the company of a good learner.

    It does however seem a bit of a stretch to make Miss Alana’s musical yearnings a result of Web 2.0, the Flat World or YouTube. Every primary teacher used to play the piano and sing. Computers didn’t kill that. Education standards did.

    I hope that Miss Alana* finds her bliss and that the music career isn’t a substitute for the minimum wage world of teaching preschoolers.

    =Gary

    * I always feel like Gloria Steinem when I see young teachers going back to being called MISS. Some of us (even guys) took the identity issues of feminism seriously. Too bad our memories are so short.

  • I agree with the observation that web 2.0/the flat world is not the enabler of Alana’s musical talent. I see it as an amplifier her band is using to reach a broader audience and communicate in ways they likely could not have afforded in previous years. Good point on the use of MISS too. She is actually married, but that title is what some of the parents call her. Not sure if that is/was her choice or theirs. I suspect it was parent choice.

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