Academic journal article Journal of Singing

The Fifty Best Blogs for Opera Students

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

The Fifty Best Blogs for Opera Students

Article excerpt

http://www.onlineclasses.org/2011/05/ 10/50-best-blogs-for-opera-students/

In a rather dramatic departure from the usual purview of "The Listener's Gallery" (and at the invitation of the editor-in-chief), this column opens with a discussion of blogs that might be of interest to both voice teachers and their students. It was prompted by a suggestion from two staff members at the NATS central office who had encountered a list purporting to be a compendium of the fifty best blogs for opera students. The list was posted on the website onlineclasses.org, a major resource for online learning with no notable reputation for or focus on the arts, and with no indication of who had compiled this list or by what criteria. Nevertheless, it appeared to be a fairly well organized and thoughtfully assembled list, with a handful of NATS members represented in its ranks. The suggestion made to the JOS editor-in-chief, to which he readily agreed, was for this list to be reviewed with special attention given to those blogs written by NATS members. As it turns out, this became a more complicated and ultimately more satisfying journey of exploration, which I hope will be both helpful and interesting, whatever your level of experience with such matters may be.

At the risk of plowing what is exceedingly familiar ground for most readers, a brief explanation about blogs is in order for those who have little had little or no firsthand acquaintance with them. The term "blog" is a contraction of "web log" and typically refers to a diary or journal that is posted on-line to be read by anyone with access to the Internet. Some blogs are entirely personal undertakings essentially done on one's own time and for one's own pleasure, while others are a component of a business, institution, or agency, with employees blogging as part of their official responsibilities. (Occasionally those lines can blur.) Most blogs are the work of a single writer, although some are collaborative ventures with a number of different contributors. Many blogs are focused on a single topic or on a cluster of loosely related topics, although plenty of blogs serve as a bully pulpit for their particular writer to express opinions on any number of issues or questions or to simply relate anecdotes or reflections springing from one's personal experiences.

When the first blogs emerged just over a decade ago and for several years thereafter, they consisted of nothing more than written entries as one would find in a conventional diary. However, the development of certain kinds of software has made it increasingly common for audio and video excerpts and links to other websites to be imbedded in blogs. Some blogs are written with great care and skill, while others are dashed off with little or no concern for grammar, punctuation, or spelling. Many blogs are posted in a manner that allows its readers to leave comments that are visible to other visitors to the site and can occasionally precipitate intriguing dialogues. In short, blogs do not adhere to any sort of strict set of guidelines, but in fact vary wildly in scope, personality, and purpose.

Perhaps the most notable new breakthrough that blogs collectively represent is that just about anybody inclined to write a blog can do so; it costs very little and requires nothing in the way of permission, authorization, or credentials. This means that anyone who fancies himself a critic, for example-whether of film, television, books, or even vocal music recordings-can become exactly that and share reviews with the world, without waiting for the editor of their favorite journal to invite them to do so. Unfortunately, blogs have proliferated beyond all initial expectations, to the point where the blogosphere-that enormous online collective of all blogs-is believed to house more than 150,000,000 different blogs. This means that it can be exceedingly difficult to garner much in the way of widespread attention, and may be why so many people who begin blogs eventually lose interest and ultimately abandon them. …

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