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Ten Ways to Get Your Students to Use the OPERA America Web Site and Love it
Laura Lee Everett, University of Maryland Opera Studio
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Original Content3/3/2010

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In working with both the Technical/Production and Singer Training Forums, I was lucky enough to be taken on a “virtual tour” of the newly updated OPERA America Web site. Twice. The second time around, I was able to take note of the moments where my colleagues’ attention seemed to wander and asked, “What do I need to point out to get everyone engaged when I take this information back to school?” Here are 10 easy ways to get your students, staff and faculty to utilize the great resources on the OPERA America Web site.

  1. Take them on the dime tour. Navigate the site for your students on a projection screen, pointing out where information on career building and self evaluation is housed. They can use this information in tandem with information about opera companies and training programs to find opportunities that are appropriate for them.

  2. Tell them what OPERA America is and what they do. You are likely the first person to introduce OPERA America and its resources to your students. Once they are made aware, they get very excited about the possibilities of using them. It will create fans for life, I promise.

  3. Give your students full access. If your school is an OPERA America member, so are your students. Many of my graduate students use the member-only resources to teach undergraduates about self-evaluation and what various programs offer. OPERA America can provide you with a username and password that is unique to your school so your students can do the same.

  4. Point out the RSS feed Facebook and Twitter links. Half of my students joined these groups via Blackberry and iPhone while I was showing the site off! I was surprised to learn how many students did not use RSS feeds or really understood what they were. Once I explained, many of them subscribed. The OPERA America RSS feed is much more focused and concise than a news search for “opera.”

  5. Show them the podcasts and videos of OPERA America events. If your students cannot attend an event in person, the archived recordings on the Web site are the next-best thing. These resources will introduce your students to important industry personnel and they also make great teaching tools for student teachers.

  6. Forward the Online Learning updates to your students. I receive these updates in an e-mail and forward them to my student distribution lists. Faculty members enjoy using these courses to engage students in deeper study of the featured operas.

  7. Explore the North American Works Directory. The North American Works Directory (NAWD) is an excellent resource for finding audition arias in English and it also promotes an interest in contemporary repertoire. Composition and conducting students can use the NAWD to find opera companies that produce new works.

  8. Expand their horizons. Jobs — there are jobs! Show me a student who isn’t looking for one. I’m always preaching, “Singing is not the only career path in opera,” and the continually-updated Jobs in Opera section of the Web site is proof of just that.

  9. Use the Artist Resources in the classroom. Opera workshop teachers can use the Singer’s Self-Inventory Form, Sample Cover Letter and Resume, and Singer FAQs as lecture materials. Opera Source has information on hundreds of opera companies, training programs and workshops. This information allows students to take a more educated and targeted approach to the audition process.

  10. Show them how to search the archives. It is an excellent resource for research papers, character study and repertoire history. Musicologists and opera geeks love this feature.


What I’ve discovered is that if you can show your students how easy the site is to use, highlighting the most relevant artist resources, they begin exploring the site, asking questions and, well, learning. And isn’t that what we want them to do as students … learn?
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