Although my son Ian re-entered the ranks of the full-time public school student this year, his education continues as ever beyond the classroom. His major focus is music, and this year he’s been drumming with a North Dakota renowned country-pop duo called Tigirlily and steadily composing in a wide range of genres. This is in addition to the four music performance classes he takes in public school and his private drum lessons.
He is funneling most of his attention these days into an album which he plans to record this summer. (He’s already got two songs completed; you can watch the first one just below this paragraph, and/or listen to both of them here.) The album project requires so many diverse skills, including composition, business planning, marketing, and the art of recording and producing in addition to the ability to work professionally with a wide range of people. The project also requires financial resources, and he’s running a Kickstarter campaign to raise the necessary funds. There are only 7 days left to the campaign, and he is 52% funded. We are thrilled with his progress so far, but as donors only pay their pledges if the campaign is 100% successful by the final day, he still has some work to do.
As a family, we’ve coordinated various promotions for the Kickstarter, reached out to friends and family and asked them to both donate and share the campaign with still more folks. Last week we extended our reach to include the media, requesting interviews on radio, in the newspaper, and on television. He’s had a bit of luck in that arena, and last week, I pulled him out of school early to take him to our local public radio station for a half-hour interview. He also sat down with our local newspaper for a feature article which came out today. On Wednesday, he’s spending his lunch hour at home with KFYR news, who will follow him back to school after the interview to film him with his jazz choir class.
All of this work not only supports his music and fundraising campaign, but his general education as well. Ian is only 13 and already gives interviews more confidently than I do. He knows how to answer questions as discussion and move the conversation forward. He’s learning how to emphasize important points to reach his audience. He’s naturally genuine in his enthusiasm as well as in his gratitude for people’s interest, and he highlights these things in his interviews.
In college, we may take a public speaking class in which we create artificial platforms to discuss in front of our peer groups. In high school, unless you’re in speech or debate team, you may only get rare opportunities to present a project in front of an English or history class; public speaking is even less common in the lower grades. However, as anyone who speaks regularly knows, it takes practice to build confidence and ease in front of an audience. In our family’s education model (as in life), public speaking is a necessary means to pursue our interests. The opportunities are frequent and important, and both my kids get better every time they do it.
Another wonderful life lesson in facilitating the Kickstarter is campaign management and the good ole’ fashioned thank you note, something that we don’t do as well today as perhaps our parents’ generation did. As pledges come in, Ian thanks each person individually via email. If he doesn’t know the donor, he turns to my husband and myself to see if they are friends of ours; it’s important to him to acknowledge any familial relationships in his notes. When the campaign is over, if we are successful, we together will coordinate the incentive packages, and mail them out with further personal notes (each donation level is rewarded with certain material acknowledgements, including a copy of the album, posters, t-shirts, etc.).
This whole process is so invaluable, and is helping Ian not only become a better musician, but a skilled businessman as well. Those two traits – artistic talent and management ability – are essential for creative success, and we will continue to look for ways to nurture both parts of his education. In many ways, these types of activities are more vibrant aspects of Ian’s education than his academic courses. We use these opportunities as launching points to explore new aspects of a music career, supporting Ian as he increases his expertise.
If you’d like to be a part of Ian’s Kickstarter and help him produce his first album, you still can! In most Kickstarter campaigns, the majority of the funds are raised in the final few days. If you’d like to be a financial supporter, I think you’ll find some incentives that will make the investment appealing. But regardless of whether you become a backer, you can help us out by sharing the video below with folks you think might be interested. Please help us take our next steps! And many thanks!
5/2/14 UPDATE: In the three days since the initial posting of this blog post, Ian’s Kickstarter was fully funded! We are so proud and excited. You can see the news interview that garnered the final pledges here, and if you can hear what Ian has to say about his campaign in the video below.
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