Social media websites such as Soundcloud and Facebook have ushered in new practices of interacting with the world. Technology has altered the fabric of the worlds thinking and how we perceive space. This has been a particular battle for teachers and public schools in the Florida public school system. Now teachers are wrestling with inattentive students and supercomputers. Students are now afforded a wider range of sources and outlets to obtain education. How can teachers compete with a 24/7 hotline of the worlds fastest encyclopedia that plays music and movies, and connects them to their friends experiences?
UNLOCKING THE CHILD's PASSION
I have been a Soundcloud rap artist since the age of sixteen. I used to record live freestyles on a shabby ATT flip phone in my grandmother's study. I would create "mixtapes", or Soundcloud sets from instrumentals I found on Youtube, and writings I scribbled on printer paper stolen from my grandmother. Through my experiences of posting my music on this open-platform, I met a worldwide database of music creators and connoisseurs who were posting covers of famous songs, root-tracks to songs later to be recorded and full-length albums. I learned a tremendous deal about self-promotion successful marketing strategies; it developed my sense of self-determination and personal discipline. My tenacity to be heard and express my opinion connected me to a world of people hungry for the same.
I sat at my grandmothers computer screen for hours, recording off of this rinky-dink phone with poor microphone quality. Once I would finish a song, Id wait patiently and excitedly to see who was online and familiar enough for me to send my new songs to them. I loved it. It took years to garner any interest, yet I loved everything about my muffled desk recordings; from the sounds of cooking in the background to small breaths I couldn't edit out.
By my senior year of high school this was no longer a hobby of mine; it was an escape that was costing me well over two hundred to four hundred dollars every three months. I was booking my own studio time. I was curating sounds from the experiences and people I brought to the studio at sixteen, seventeen and eighteen years old. I even put myself through intensive training by researching documentaries of Lil Wayne and Jay-Z, and specifically when they're in the studio. I watched intently, probing their behaviors, investigating their processes, constantly asking myself, What does it take to be an artist of their caliber? What are the studio techniques of breath control? How do they transfer what has been prepared into the uncertain and inexplicable.
I constantly watched these documentaries over and over until I felt Id developed my own recording process (which at the time my vocal inflections and rap cadences were stylized very similarly to both artists respectively). Also by senior year, my Soundcloud profile had 1,000 followers and I had an ongoing audience waiting to hear my new music. I was connected with people from all over the world, who'd heard my sounds and sent me beats or their own personal music for my opinion. I was invited into a world that was continuously growing filled with artists all seeking this same outlet.
No one gave me the courage to be bold enough to present my diarist rap style. In fact, my teachers, my mom and other mentors told me to put rap music down. But it became my platform; it became a community that gave me the strength to turn phone recordings into a multi-media platform of films, web-series and stage performances. From just sharing my songs unabashedly, my friends and family that reached out to me and encouraged me to keep going gave me my drive to populate my profile, to curate relationships with DJ's, stage playwrights, rap artists, music moguls, videographers.
Through my experiences in a BFA Acting program, I developed a theory thatKnowledge is the Ruin of Education, meaning knowledge (ie. information, documents or articles) is only a relic of a time before and serves as an explanation no further beyond how it is relative to today and to be built upon in the future. When you know something, it is hard to remove the importance of what it was to you when you learned it. Our habits inform how we perceive the world around us. What you gained/learned from a lesson is based on the habits you brought to the class/learning environment. Were you late all the time, were you falling asleep, were you completely attentive?How was your personal relationship with the teacher and his/her assignments? These small habits affect what you gain from each moment. In short who we are andKnowourselves to be can either be a fossil, orRuin,of the time we were or fossilize us into who we are until we change. The time it takes to learn information is infinitesimal to the time it takes to process, understand and gain wisdom from that information.
With numerous technological advances done strictly to the artistic community and the opportunities to meet/become a star have grown exponentially, why arent more artists encouraged to pursue higher education for these kinds of majors? How does an artist find solace in the current education system or find their footing in the current job market? Why is it more difficult for artists to thrive in theeducational community of the American South? If the job market is extensive and filled with opportunities to build income from their works, why are they taught very little of these avenues they have afforded to them? Why has standardization become a tool to barricade students from pursuing the arts in the educational landscape? Why are parents so afraid of telling their kids to follow their dreams?
The problem with educating students in the arts is that there aren't enough programs or community organizations that are specifically designed to promote professional awareness of a craft. Students interested in performance are trained technically in ballet classes, piano or instrument lessons, or agencies that focus solely on building the student's individual profile. The artist is taught to keep his/her expressions to themselves, in a tight knit bubble only to progress in the comforts of their homes.
Today, technology and globalization imposes that isolation upon the Social Media world where people share from behind their LED screens; it has gifted us with a tremendous sense of establishment and pride. The cost/standard of living is gradually increasing, and people feel entitled to claim their fiefs in class, ideals or values. Today, I can purchase the entire world's catalogue of mainstream music for $9.99. Today, I can watch my favorite Television show anywhere I want at whatever time I want. Today, I can call to me almost anything in the world imaginable to my front door step and receive it in a matter of minutes, or roughly that time to a couple weeks. With all of this power what is the millennial to do besides "Netflix and Chill", "Facebook Lives" and other social media campaigns to build their profiles and the contacts on a database? How can we use these interfaces to foresee and imagine our futures in a manner that is more practical?
We teach our students that art is not profitable, that having a successful career and performing, as a hobby, is more viable. Why are we stripping away the tools we use to make us human? Students should have the right and the vessel to express themselves, the guidance to direct those expressions and produce fine works from them instead of building social anxiety and stress. There should be times to convene away from technology, to experience one's culture through dance, music and dialogue. Artists should be able to create and express their opinions and build their ideals from conversation.
We have become conditioned to living inside our walls and behind our computer screens, not going out and embracing the world practically. The Wall Street Journal covered an article titled "How Smartphones HiJack Our Minds" and author Nicholas Carr discusses an experiment conducted on 520 undergrad students where the students were to take two standard tests of intellectual acuity. One test gauged "available cognitive capacity" (how fully a person's mind can focus on a task). The second assessed "fluid intelligence" (a person's ability to interpret and solve an unfamiliar problem). The variable in each experiment was where the subject's phone was placed in proximity to the testing area. Some students had their phones at their desks, some in their bags and the others in a completely different room. "The results were striking. In both tests, the subjects whose phones were in view posted the worst scores, while those who left their phones in a different room did best."
Online classes and degrees are taking over; working from home is becoming a more viable opportunity for success than the time spent being out in the "real world", creating work field/social experiences. Why waste time going to school for bartending when Groupon offers lessons? Why go to a foreign-speaking country to learn a language when Rosetta Stone is easily accessible for anyone?
"A 2015 study, which involved 41 iPhone users and appeared in the Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, showed that when people hear their phone ring but are unable to answer it, their blood pressure spikes, their pulse quickens and their problem solving skills decline", reports Carr. Our rapidly growing technological world is infiltrating our minds and destabilizing our cognitive and social skills. We don't work as hard to complete tasks because there is a device that make those tasks a bit easier. How do we responsibly educate students who are growing in an environment that is developing so rapidly? In the blink of an eye from 2008 to 2012, we went from having phones that played ringtones to phones that were surfing the Internet. Time has sped up, major life events are happening by the day on social media sites. Who has time or the power to control this; let alone understand it?
My mission for theCarnegie Hall Players thatis to institute an ongoing training facility that produces shows and builds commerce is based on the community's participation. My interest is building that database of friends and family, then eliminating the computer screen, and keeping the ensemble in black boxes and theatre auditoriums. If I could populate this space online from just from my thoughts what would happen if a team of artists did this together communing during rehearsals and cyphers.