Parents’ Evening

A day at NBHS was followed by a twilight parents’ evening at Knox. I had prepared a handout on Exc-el, highlighting the materials posted there for pupils – this was partly to avoid taking up some of their five minutes describing it. As luck would have it, I was receiving parents in the staff base and, therefore could also have the blog page up on screen to give them a better idea of what to look for. Upon seeing it, the vast majority of parents said, “oh we’ve been on that haven’t we?” I was surprised at the comprehensive uptake and pleased at how enthusiastic they were about the features there – the play-along midi files seemed to be the main reason for pupils’ visits.

The principal reason for my surprise was that I had at no stage given out the url for Exc-el. I advised pupils to find it via my own site (, reasoning that if they could not remember my name, then fitting into an instrumental ensemble was going to be the least of our worries. Later, I recalled that my own introduction to Exc-el was also an oral one – when Don brought it up at an instructors’ in service last session. I didn’t feel it necessary to write down any details at the time, confident that I could track it down later. Most pupils seem to be fearless navigators of cyber-space. 

However, this is not yet universal. In conversation with Peter Antonelli today, we agreed that those who cannot practise Showcase Concert material at home with the midi files on Exc-el could be given a CD. There are various reasons for such practice not being possible or convenient:

  • No internet
  • Parents who work from home needing the lion’s share of time online
  • Siblings not sharing online time fairly
  • Family computer in the same room as TV

Fortunately the cost of bridging this digital divide is tiny.