Email can be a challenging way to communicate for business. It’s an informal, fast-paced, text-based form of communication and can easily be misread.
In an online education environment, text-based communication can be challenging too. Constructive criticism can be difficult to read objectively when presented as text, and sometimes, what’s intended to be “constructive” can often be perceived as merely criticism.
At Berkleemusic, many of our instructors supplement text-based assignment critiques with narrated MP3 files, as a way to offer feedback and suggestions related to a student’s assignment post. For example, “You played it like this, [guitar] but if you changed this chord and that voicing to this, it would sound like [guitar].” Not only does the MP3 file help to further the student’s understanding of the lesson assignment, but it also conveys the helpful and encouraging tone of their instructor’s voice. This not easy to convey with text-based communication. A picture is worth a thousand words, and I believe an audio/MP3 file with spoken words and (in this case) music, is worth a thousand more!
This not only holds true for business and educational correspondence, but for important interpersonal communication as well.
Here’s an example.
Last week, at a holiday gathering, friends and family were upset about a very sick family member who is in the hospital in England. Communicating via phone was not an option. We decided to send her an MP3 greeting compilation. I set up a portable digital recording device called the Edirol R-09 in a quiet room, and family members took turns going in and recording heartfelt get-well wishes. They said what they needed to say, then I assembled the dozen-plus messages in Garageband, adjusted levels, added a background track of my own instrumental music, and sent the 10-minute MP3 file as an email attachment to England, where it was played at the patient’s bedside. The whole project took no more than an hour, and the effect this audio-based communication had on everyone involved was immeasurable.
With a portable digital recording device and/or a simple, free, cross-platform desktop recording/editing tool like Audacity or GarageBand (ships with the Mac), you can communicate effectively with audio files to colleagues and students, and perhaps even “say what you need to say” to a loved one.
Happy New Year!