Chris Boardman Music Blog


Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Serving Up Your Online Course

When we sit down to eat our favorite dish or meal, we don’t consume the whole thing at once. We take a bite at a time. And, when we get full we stop. Using the web is not dissimilar. Absorbing information online is like an endless buffet.

Yet, we still have to absorb concepts, text, graphics...all of it… one piece at a time. Even if you cram a page full of links, pictures, text, whatever, users will still have to consume that information bit by bit. Information overload (getting full) is a real thing… and can cause users to unconsciously disengage.

According to the Health and Human Services report: Reseach-Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines content is the most important piece of a website. Of course, we are looking for information, be it gathering facts or to be entertained. However, if you are overwhelmed with choices it will be difficult to prioritize the relative importance of each individual piece of information that is presented.

Putting the creation of online course into context

A chef painstakingly combining flavors to create a dish or a meal, knowing full well that the diner can only take one bite of a meal at a time. Much like the chef, it is the job of the web designer to make sure that each click the student makes has to have the promise of more great flavor to come.

How do you do that? If you were to go to a restaurant, you assume that the menu is planned and dish is planned in advance. This direction is passed on to the server who works to remain attentive to the diner’s needs along the way. I doubt you would give a great tip to a waitperson if they dropped your meal on the table and then ignored you for the rest of your meal. 

The obvious difference between educators and the restaurant industry is that teachers have multiple roles. They may be course designers(design the menu), plan individual lessons (assemble the ingredients), deliver the lesson (serving the meal), assign and receive student work (cleaning off the tables) and responsible for student outcomes (running the business of the restaurant). Regardless if preparation is done by an individual or a group, it's the relationships between everyone involved that makes the meal and dining experience (or distance learning experience) a success.

Being New To Online Teaching

Like the old cliche´ (A chain is only as strong as its weakest link) an effective online teacher understands these roles and learns how to manage them. Unfortunately there are many teachers who have been thrust into teaching online without the guidance and time to master these new roles and skills. This puts teachers at a disadvantage. Their conscious or unconscious lack of awareness of these roles, and how they interact with each other, can create more problems. And, more problems means more time spent and focus being diverted from ensuring the student/diner/end user is taken care of.

Mental Overload

Sometimes we get lost and fail to see the forest through the trees. Software can do that do us. Hardware can do that do us. The pressures and details required to shift from the classroom to distance learning. Sometimes we need to step back and look at our situation through a different lens.

Avoid overeating

So, it most certainly can be overwhelming to dive into distance learning. But, if you use the dining example (knowing what needs to be online the plate and that the student can only take one bite at a time) you can prioritize your efforts and become more productive without losing sleep.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Art Vs. Commerce? The business of art.

Most of us got into music because on a deep love for making music. We loved doing it so the next logical step would be to figure out how to make a living doing it. As a result, we attempt to move from the ranks of the amateur to the professional.

The inherent rub in this transformation comes when art meets commerce. We are conditioned to believe that the creation of art is a mysterious endeavor...a noble pastime that does not need to be concerned with mundane obligations like paying your rent on time or having enough money to buy groceries. Accepting this idea as fact traditionally breeds internal conflict. But does it have to?

Art and commerce are not mutually exclusive though maintaining a balance as a creative professional is difficult to do.

How do we find that magical middle ground?

Our pain comes from trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. By that, I suggest that we can imbue anything with artistic intent regardless of the circumstance. It all depends on how we perceive the work we do.

If the phrase: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is true then we can find beauty in everything we do, see, and experience. Sometimes it shouts out at us, and other times it requires we look a little deeper from a more detached and objective position.

If we step back from our beliefs and conditioned responses, there will be room for us to see an obstacle as a potential opportunity.

Most times we fight our beliefs rather than the reality of what we face.

What does this have to do with the business of music?

Learning to be objective is the first step in assessing the value of the product or service you offer. Without we continually stumble from one obstacle to another...without having the skills to determine what works or doesn’t work.


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas!

It has been a wild ride this year for all of us. So, instead of a card, I decided that celebrating the fact that I can play again would be the best way for me to share my gratitude for family and friends at this time of year.




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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Pick me! Pick me! Pick me!

Being a creative work for hire individual is challenging.

There are no rules. It’s hard to know where to turn for advice. And, if you are anything like I was when I was young chances are you are always looking for acknowledgment and acceptance.

It is natural to think you have to look outside yourself to find the answers. We are trained to research and assimilate information to improve ourselves.

But what if the answer was already inside you? What if you had to no look no further than yourself?

A byproduct of our educational experience is the pressure to conform. To be able to measure progress schools are required to judge against a norm. Unfortunately, conformity stifles creative solutions depriving us of the freedom to explore solutions that are unique to us. Schools do a terrible job at teaching students to think for themselves, to connect the dots in ways that are unique to us.

Most of us are starting life at a disadvantage. Most times we don’t know it!

Our inbred conformity works against us. If we insist on being a “part of the crowd” our value diminishes because we can easily be replaced.

What if you were to focus on what makes you different?

It’s all a choice, and it’s up to you.

Ask yourself: “how is your approach working for you?” “Are you getting to where you want to go?”

Choosing to be ordinary is up to you just as choosing to be unique is.

Committing to be unique means making a choice to stand out. It means accepting the risk of being rejected. It is a frightening thought for many. But understand that if you choose to be fit in, to be ordinary, you will be one of many. It is hard to stand out in that case.

Turn your attention inward.

Be clear about what makes your heart sing, what you can do better than anyone else.

Honestly ask yourself what YOU do, consciously and unconsciously, that prevents you from making you deliriously happy in your work.

Becoming successful requires the commitment to make the conscious choice to “follow your bliss."

Uniqueness is found inside not by the external search for validation and acceptance.

Articulate your dreams (write them down!).

Make a plan.

Work your plan

Sure. There are risks in taking a stand.

But- do you have the time to waste trying to be something your not?

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

What is your career worth to you?

Nothing in life is free. Nothing in life is free.
(count silently to 10 and let that sink in)

Now repeat: nothing in life is free. Regardless of what we might think everything has an associated cost.

We don’t give much thought to how our tax money is spent, how much it costs to run a light bulb etc. If a movie or record loses money somewhere, someone is going to be responsible.
Nothing in life is free.

Is there a cost to bad behavior? Of course if you do drugs or act recklessly there could be an enormous price to pay. But what about our seemingly common everyday interactions with others and how we go about our days?

If we drill down a little deeper, it becomes clear that human behavior has a cost.
Here are a few questions to think about:
  • Are you willing to take risks to build your career?
  • Are you willing to invest your time and money to create assets that will attract paying clients?
  • Are you willing to evaluate your efforts honestly?
  • Are you willing to acknowledge your behavior may be affecting your success?
  • Are you willing to change if what you are doing isn’t working?

Amateurs often assume that a career is there for the taking. Professionals understand that an investment must be made to see a return. 

Making good choices.

You can only get out of life what you are willing to put into it. The good news is that you have the ability to choose what you want out of your life and career.

We continually make choices. When contemplating making an investment in your career what makes us able to determine which choice would be the best choice to make? 

For some of us, choices are a result of considered deliberation. Other choices are a conditioned response.

For example: if you continually sabotage yourself there is a good chance that deep down you don’t believe you are worthy of success.  These choices reinforce what we believe about ourselves.

Another example is being on time. Tardiness is a control issue. If someone consistently keeps you waiting, it is a form of control over the relationship by saying “my time is worth more than yours”. 

Nevertheless, even if this was an unconscious choice, a choice was made.

And what would be the cost of this choice?  Are you willing to waste your time? Would your client be willing to waste their time waiting for you?

Nothing in life is free.

In every choice we make there are costs-even if they aren't apparent at first glance.

If you are committed to being a professional and choosing to invest your time, money and reputation, be sure you are aware of the both the obvious and subliminal costs associated with your actions.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

If I build it... I sure hope they'll come!

So many of us buy into the myth: “if we build it…they will come.” That is a romantic notion that is rarely, if ever, fulfilled.

 As creators, (musicians, composers, filmmakers, artists, etc.) we spend our lives honing our craft, digging into every detail, leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to improve our creative abilities. 

Why don't we dedicate an equal or greater amount of time learning how to sell and promote ourselves?

It’s because we are uncomfortable. If you haven’t seen the success you desire in the music business would it be fair to say that you haven’t invested the time and effort in understanding what selling is let alone thinking of ourselves as a business?

If you were in the position of hiring you and you listened to your pitch would you hire you?

If you are stuck, where do you start?

Where do you focus our attention? What assets do you need to build before we begin?

Selling is not voodoo. It is a skill that can be learned. Why not invest the same amount of effort into selling as you do in your art?

It is common for creatives to say: “I’m an artist. I do my art. I don’t sell”.

That’s fine if your goal is to stay in your basement and never make a living from your creative work.

The professional will invest time and money into their art/business because they know that investing in assets (you) will give them an edge.

It’s not free. No one will do it for you!

“If you don’t value yourself…no one else will”.

Ask yourself: am I willing to work for it? Can I step outside my comfort zone and acquire the skills necessary to become a professional? If your answer is anything but yes then you have a problem. A solvable problem...but a problem nonetheless.

Artistry in music comes after years of study and practice. Why would you assume that selling your products or services requires less?

Make the commitment. Put your fears aside and get to work. Just like practicing- the more you do the better you'll get.

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Friday, November 25, 2016

Amateur or Professional?

Webster defines “business” as a purposeful activity. If we are purposefully in the act of creating art, we are by definition in the business of making art. Where so many of us struggle is imagining ourselves as more than artists. We are, in fact, businesspeople but either we have been conditioned to believe it is somehow beneath the artist or, it is so far out of our comfort zone that is impossible to conceive that we could be more than the act that fuels our creativity.

Business can seem like a foreign language. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

It is only a mystery of we prefer to isolate ourselves in our ignorance.

Moving beyond being an amateur is to accept that business (which includes branding and marketing) is an integral part of our existence as a freelance or independent artist.

Becoming a professional artist requires making a commitment to being accountability for ALL aspects of our lives and our careers.

It requires making the active choice to understand the how’s, the why’s the where’s of making your product exceptional as well as the sales and marketing of our product.

It’s our responsibility.

If we delegate this responsibility, then we are at the mercy of others. And as we move towards a society run by robots and artificial intelligence being a spoke in someone else’s wheel is becoming less and less of a viable option.

Is it easy? No. Is it hard? Yes. The choice is yours.

Read "What's Your Story" to begin your branding process.