The Caffeinated Flutist, Vol. 1:
Wish Me Luck!/Maintaining a Professional Presence on Social Media
Wish me luck! This is my first article contributing to The Flute View, and I’m so excited to see where this journey takes me. I run a WordPress blog called Flute Fridays, but I’ve never contributed to a magazine before, in any form. I figured to start things off, I would go ahead and introduce myself to you all.
My name is Mary Hales, and I’ve been a flutist since I was in the fifth grade. I earned my Bachelors degree in Flute Performance in 2017, from the University of Central Arkansas in my hometown of Conway, where I studied with Dr. Carolyn Brown. Currently, I’m working towards my Masters in Performance at the University of Missouri with Prof. Alice K. Dade. When I’m not practicing, I like to be writing, especially creatively and for my blog, drinking coffee or tea, and advocating for epilepsy awareness. I was diagnosed in late 2015, and thankfully, with the help of medication, have been seizure free since then.
One of the things I want to focus on in this column is being a graduate student, getting on your feet as an entrepreneur, and most importantly, how those things can go hand-in-hand. I look forward to hearing from you all as I go; I anticipate this being a fun journey for all of us! So let’s dive right in to my first column, talking about a professional social media presence.
Social media has become ubiquitous in modern society; everywhere we go, everyone around us is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and probably other platforms that I don’t know enough about to use. Screen time is often derided as unproductive and wasteful; however, as professionals, instantaneous connection around the globe can be incredibly useful to what we do. Networking is vital to any venture in life, be it music or data processing. We all need connections with experience in our respective fields to help us along our paths. In the modern age, social media can be a great way to connect with others—including, but not limited to, potential colleagues, teachers, employers, and/or clients. Below, I’ll discuss a few things I’ve tried or seen on social media that make for good networking practices.
- Reach out to people! If you scroll past a post where someone is asking for advice, don’t just keep going! You’re never going to make connections if you just keep scrolling. If you feel comfortable chipping in, add your two cents. At least scroll through the comments; you might find something you agree with and can “like”. I can speak from experience when I say this is a really helpful thing to do. As a thank-you to my Instagram following when I reached 500 followers, I recorded a Bach invention with a flutist I’ve never even met, just because I sent her a message. Turns, out, she also has a pretty awesome feed! (Side note: go check out Jolene Madewell’s account @joleneflute on Instagram for more!)
- In that same vein…collaborate with others. You’re all on social media for at least one of the same reasons – you want to share your love of music, the flute, and whatever else you attach to it. If you’re like me and get socially anxious sometimes, this can be a little scary, but it’s completely worth it. That Bach duet with Jolene would never have happened if I didn’t message her asking if she would be interested; I knew she could be someone to ask, since I had seen other duets on her profile. And as it turns out, we had a lot of fun recording it!
- Self-promote, but don’t be that We all know that person in everyday life – the one who can only understand the world as it relates to them, and gets just a little too self-aggrandizing about what they do. Self-promotion is one of the things we have to do as artists; it’s really the only way we can stir up a decent amount of patronage. But there’s a way to do it without being self-centered. For instance, (stuff about blog promotion).
- Take advantage of the tricks and tools social media provides. Since the advent of social media, businesses and musicians alike have found it to be a great way to reach their clientele. If you have a professional page, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all come equipped with “Promotion” modes. For a certain amount of money, the platform will bump your post to make sure it gets more views. Now, when you’re a poor grad student, this might not be a viable option (that’s the boat I’m in right now). But it can be essential in building a following for your content, and in building your brand. (Watch for a later column on that!)
- Take risks. Sometimes, the world feels incredibly isolated and insular; there’s no denying that the social media heyday in which we live is part of this. But I see social media as like a lot of other things in life – you get out of it what you put in. not every tweet or Instagram photo has to be another shout into the void. If you want to reach out to businesses about being a part of their team, do it! If you want to record pieces with yourself and other artists for public consumption, do it! I have an entire network of musicians I wouldn’t have otherwise known thanks to platforms like Instagram and Twitter, and it didn’t happen because I was a shrinking violet. If you put yourself out there, you increase the chances of something good happening as a result.
That’s all for now, folks! Until next time!
Flutist Mary Hales is a native of Conway, Arkansas, currently studying under Alice K. Dade at the University of Missouri School of Music for her Masters in Flute Performance. Follow more of her writing at www.maryhalesflute.wordpress.com; find her on social media with the handle @maryhalesflute.