I’ve recently been fortunate to give a variety of presentations about teens, music, and what that relationship means for your library. As Kelly mentioned in the last YALSA post, I’ll be live broadcasting an online stream for the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County‘s teen retreat. For anyone interested in tuning in (see Kelly’s post for details), here are the presentation materials I’ll be using.

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If you’re free today, Wednesday, May 14 at 3:30pm EST, tune into ustream.tv for a presentation by Librarian Joseph Wilk on connecting with teens and music at your library. Go to www.ustream.tv, type in ‘plcmc’ in the upper right corner where it says ‘search here’, choose the ‘PLCMC Teens 1’ channel when it says ‘live’ and you’re in! You’ll need headphones and the latest Adobe Flash Player to view it. Think of the possibilities for using such a tool-gaming with other libraries, teens giving hosting their own radio show, author talks, etc. For more ideas, check out a past post by Linda Braun on the YALSA blog about Ustream and some other ideas and similar software from School Library Journal. Feel free to share your own experiences.

Congratulations to the winner and finalists of the Teen Tech Week Best promotional song contest! Our teen contestants created songs promoting Teen Tech Week and the technology resources that the library has to offer. Songs were judged on creativity, lyrical construction, effectives of promoting technologies in libraries, and overall craftsmanship. The submissions were all very creative, drawing from a wide spectrum of musical talent and style.

Michelle Visent, a student at Felix Varela Senior High School in Miami, Florida, is the winner of the 2008 Teen Tech Week Song Contest! Check out her winning song, “The Library”!

Second place went to Bryan Aguilar, also a student at Felix Varela Senior High School in Miami, Florida, for his song, “You’re a Handy One.”

Leon Moskatel, Anne McGrath, and Sarah Brandon of North Hollywood, California, came in third with “I Find It at the Library.”

Fourth place goes to Ben Heston and Josh Mattison, Longview, Washington, for “Overloading the Outlet: Library Song”
Stay tuned for Teen Tech Week 2009! Have a contest idea? Submit it to Stephanie Iser, committee chair for the 2009 celebration. stephanie.iser@gmail.com.

Long before the book (and way longer than cell phones), information was shared through music. Chuck D’s now-famous statement that hip hop is the “CNN of the streets” takes its cue from ancient texts like the Samaveda and the epics of Homer.

A recent New York Times story showcased how teens are carrying this forward at the annual convention for the Organization of American Historians. Teens used dance and singing to communicate the history of their communities, as well as their place within that history. Another recent story featured the teens at the Howland Public Library, who engaged in “creative conversation” through a teen drumming circle.

When libraries sponsor drum circles, online music collaboration (through sites such as eJamming, Kompoz, and Indaba), or showcases where teens have an opportunity to perform songs about their favorite book, they give teens the tools to carry the creative conversation into song–a place where public knowledge has existed for millennia.

A recent wave of “anti-emo” violence broke out in Mexico last month, prompting self-described “emo kids” to take to the streets in protest. While emo has its own history far removed from the heavily-eyelined fashion statement it is today, it’s taken on its own outsider status based on the androgynous dress and association with expressing feelings. In Mexico, a lot of the violence has been precipitated on Mexico’s homo and transphobic culture. North American teens can just as easily be branded with the “fag tag” or stereotyped with mental health issues. Yet, in a lot of ways, it just comes down to teens exploring a fashion, finding a niche, or setting themselves away from the crowd.

I’m reminded of this because these stereotypes can often come to play in our own field. Recently, a coworker told me of a training in which a social worker alerted librarians that “emos” are prone to self-mutilation and should be monitored. Many of the librarians seemed fascinated with the trend and took the stereotypes to heart, not considering that emo can be just another way teens are defining their aesthetics and personal identity–something for teen librarians everywhere to engage.

If you want to get the inside scoop, you can hear it straight from the mouth of a self-professed “emo girl” at the Emo Girl Talk Podcast. If you want to see what music teens are tagging as emo for both collection development and “in the know” purposes, take a listen to the Last.fm Emo Tag Radio. And finally, show your “luv” at the new luv-emo site, where you can find the latest developments in the life and times of emo kids everywhere.

Joseph Wilk
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Teen

A recent panel at the Digital Music Forum East showcased different tech and music luminaries discussing how social networks help people discover new music. Wired has summarized what the panelists had to say here.

One recurring theme is that social networks provide the quickness and convenience necessary to find and share music instantly. For instance, teens using the Last.FM plug-in can instantly recommend songs while they listen to MP3s, as well as let others track what they’ve been listening to. iLike‘s Facebook application lets users send each other public song dedications. Teens browsing the web over their phones can listen to the latest songs no matter where they are.

These technologies help teens establish themselves as tastemakers, as well as connect them to the tastes of their peers. It fits sharing music within the rhythms of their own complex social interactions.

Another interesting distinction is that social networks and music use differs between age groups. While older people who use social networks for music discovery might be looking for vetted recommendations from those “in the know” (which they might find on blogs and the algorithms of Pandora), teens are looking for the social interactions of passing along recommendations to each other and tapping into an aggregated listening experience.

Disney Interactive is throwing its hat into the rhythmic ring with Ultimate Band, set to be released around holiday time this year.

Developed for the Wii and the Nintendo DS, Ultimate Band strives to provide children, tweens, and teens with the opportunity to live out their rock star dreams. Like Rock Band before it, Ultimate Band will give family-friendly rock hits through the decades and let players perform as guitarists, bassists, drummers, and frontpersons–but without having to use anything more than the Wiimote or DS stylus.

So for those of you looking to get in on the craze but who don’t have the space or resources to purchase additional controls (or those of you whose teen audience skews particularly young), this is the game you’ve been waiting for.

Get updates as they develop on the Gamespot Ultimate Band Page.

Music may be everywhere, but it’s not always identified. Here are some websites that can help you with those “I’m looking for a song I heard on…” moments.

The Breaks uncovers the samples from songs of today and yesteryear. Consider a program in which you play “guess the sample” by playing the original songs, or simply building a discussion by pairing contemporary hip-hop with the songs that make their melodies.

Second Hand Songs is a website focused on cover songs. Here, you’ll get a fairly comprehensive and growing database. Try a program in which teens work together to find interesting pairings (like Johnny Cash’s cover of Nine Inch Nails’ hurt).

When it comes to movies and television, teens have even more options. TuneFind is a great website dedicated to helping teens identify the songs they heard in their favorite movies and television shows. On the commercia tip, Squidoo’s Music from TV Commercials identifies the song and shows you the commercial in question, and AdTunes offers a searchable forum you can use to suss out questions that teens might share with the site’s users.

Edit: Tonight, I logged onto Facebook and noticed a teen was looking for a certain song that was on The L Word. I seized it as a serendipitous opportunity to test these resources. Pulling up Tunefind and searching for “The L Word” got me my answer, Freezepop’s Swimming Pool, within a minute. I then found the song through Songza (which I blogged about last week) and linked it through a comment. I couldn’t have scripted it any better, folks.