Nothing is easy about directing the Rider High Band. Over one hundred and fifty students have to be in the same place, at the same time, with their instruments, day after day.
Band director Loy Studer uses Twitter to bring order to the chaos. "I decided to use it a couple of years ago, one of my buddies in another district was talking about it, and I just thought I'd give it a go and see what happens with it, and it ended up being a really productive tool for us."
Here's how it works. A link on their website, riderhighband.com, takes students to a page of instructions on how to get to the website for Twitter and how to sign up once there. Then it sends Loy a message that says the student or parent requested to follow rider band on twitter. If he recognizes the person, they're accepted. If not, they are not accepted.
"Eventually if it was their mom and they had some weird screen name they'll come tell us and that way we just make sure that only our people are following us, you know, then it's just kind of a Rider Band thing and not a worldwide deal," Studer says.
Once following Rider Band on Twitter, both students and parents begin to receive much needed band related information via texts. For instance whether or not they will have zero hour, a period before first period when the band practices marching.
The tweets aren't just for the students either. Parents also benefit from the technology.
A lot of kids aren't exactly good about telling their parents when, like, they get a paper and stuff, so by the parents being able to get the message also, it helps get all of us in sync," says Callie Cunningham, a Rider Band member.
Loy add, "There's times where we'll be coming back from a football game and the game ran long because we went into overtime or something and we can send the parents something that says we'll be home at twelve thirty, not twelve."
So what happens when the Rider High Band receives an invitation to perform in London for the Queen of England? Once again, they use social media, including Twitter, to help raise funds.
They've also built a second website to help get the word out.
"We feel really fortunate that we are the only band from the state of Texas to get to go, and be represented in the first official Olympic event of 2012, and for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, that's pretty special. We're so proud to represent Texoma. Our other website we have is www.tundra2win.com, and that's where were promoting our fundraiser which were giving away a 2011 Toyota tundra. It explains all of the rules on there and how the winner will be decided. So that's a good way for everybody, the kids, to shoot it off to a relatives in Wisconsin or somewhere, then they can get in touch and buy a ticket from a kid after understanding the whole thing. That way the kids don't have to remember there's 37 rules and know what all 37 of them are," states Studer.
The bands goal is to raise enough money to send every member to London. Once they are there, they won't necessarily be able to use twitter in the same way that they are accustomed.
"We're not going to Twitter via the cell phone which is what we do a lot of times now because we can twitter on the bus or whatever," say Studer. "But, we're not going to do that there because cell phone rates are insane, we'll basically have no cell phone coverage while were there, so it will all be from the hotel. We may venture into Facebook a little bit for the trip so we can blog and let parents know exactly what's going on and they can communicate with their kids."
Band director Loy Studer tells me that he realizes its asking a lot of the community to come up with this money so his staff pushes the kids to give back to the community. They've created something called bottles for 'bama. Students are trying to collect cases of water to donate to the North Texas red cross for the tornado victims in Alabama, the flood victims around the Mississippi river, and the wildfire firefighters and victims here in North Texas. Studer reminds the students to bring their empty bottles in the morning via what else? Twitter.