Tomorrow is the fifth anniversary of Horn World. Looking back at my first post from June 2010, I still feel very much the same about the goals and overall direction of the site. As a way to recap and reflect, here are some of the reasons I began blogging (taken from that first post), with some follow-up commentary based on my experiences over the last five years.
- Communication/Networking: Maintaining this website has been an effective way to network, and I am still surprised – and flattered – by the breadth of readers who choose to visit Horn World.
- Writing Practice: Though neither the fastest nor most prodigious of writers, I enjoy the act of developing, writing, and revising blog content. For me, writing is both a skill and a creative outlet, just as much as any of my other professional activities. After five years, I hope that I’ve become a better writer, and if not, certainly a more experienced one. I still struggle with beginning and ending articles, and my prose has a tendency to ramble…
- Development as a Teacher: My effectiveness as a teacher has certainly benefited from my work on this site, mainly because I strive to be as knowledgeable as possible about the trends in my field. I’ll never be an expert in everything, but I can at least hope to know a little about a lot of things. Most of the content here is directed at horn players, and to that end I have devoted the majority of my writing and research time to horn-related topics. However, I also think that my teaching in other areas (music history, music appreciation, etc.), has improved.
- Share Unique Experiences and Perspectives: For those contemplating a blog or just starting out, my only advice is to start writing, and keep writing! If you don’t feel like you have anything new or original to say, consider this: putting down ideas (original or not) in your own words makes them original. I also think it’s important, especially early on, that you not evaluate blog ideas based on whether you think others will find them interesting, but whether you find them interesting. After some experience – and periodic analysis of your blog stats – you will have a much better handle on what kinds of things make for good content.
- Generate New Ideas: Even after 500+ posts on various horn and music-related topics, I still actively think about new ideas, and plan to continue posting content for as long as I am able. I maintain an electronic list of 40 to 50 ideas for blog posts, and periodically update it. Sometimes an idea I had six months ago no longer seems feasible, or requires some tweaking in order to make it practical. As new ideas pop up in my mind I try to avoid too much evaluation – I simply jot down the topic or topics and continue on. I’ve found that when I come back to it – either a week later, or as much as a year later – the good ideas will still resonate with me, and hopefully with my readers.
Well, what’s next? As noted in my Summer Plans, I have some blog ideas in the works, including several recording reviews. I also thought that the five year mark was a good time to make a few changes around the site – nothing major – just a little housekeeping. First, I have decided not to renew the hornworld.me domain. It was problematic from the beginning, and the other two domains for this site, jamesboldin.com and hornworld.wordpress.com, will continue to be live. I don’t anticipate any major issues with this change. Second, links to Guide to the Brass Quintet have been removed. When I started that project, the plan was to migrate all of the content from an older website that contained material from my doctoral dissertation. For a number of reasons – including the time commitment necessary to move everything over – I decided not to continue with the migration process. Rather than have only 10% of the material live, and with an undetermined time table for when the rest would be ready, I thought it best just to remove the links. If you are interested in the information contained in my dissertation, please feel free to contact me, or even better, consider borrowing a copy of my document from the International Horn Society’s Thesis Lending Library.