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Forte: The brave new world of ... TikTok

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Until live music comes back, musicians have pivoted to the internet in an attempt to continue making music, and that means we’ve all had to learn a lot about social media in a very short amount of time.

We are livestreaming concerts, making more and more video content (including your very own YSO, so please go look at its YouTube channel so our hours of video editing weren’t in vain) and in general trying to adjust to our current circumstances.

I have personally fallen backward into managing the social media for one of the other ensembles I play with, and this means I am now forced to learn about things like “the algorithm” and “trending hashtags” and a bunch of other concepts that are fundamentally opposed to who I am as a person. I am now a person who looks at social media analytics, though I will confess I don’t yet know what to do with that information.

The other day I took the next step in acclimating to this brave new world of ours, and I did the unthinkable: I downloaded TikTok.

Now, TikTok is widely considered to be the territory of Gen Z, whereas I am a tired Xennial at best, and if there are any words in this sentence that you don’t recognize, it’s because you lead a richer and more fulfilling life than I do. In short, I am too old for this.

Still, there are a lot of musicians on TikTok who have somehow found a way to take minute-long videos and turn them into an audience that is genuinely enthusiastic about their music, so I have reluctantly concluded that it is probably worth looking into. Also, at the time of writing this article, they’re all obsessed with sea shanties, so maybe the kids are all right.

(By the time this article hits print they may well be obsessed with something else; the internet is fickle that way.)

While I am not someone who particularly enjoys social media marketing, the freelancer credo is “adapt or die” so I am begrudgingly adapting. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go figure out how to write a sea shanty parody for my brass quintet.

YSO NEWS: Join us Feb. 27 at 7:30 p.m. for “YSO Roundtable: Meet the Percussion, Keyboard and Harp Sections,” a free, real-time, virtual event, at

• Sara Mayo is the principal trombonist for the Yakima Symphony Orchestra. She and other symphony members write this column for SCENE. Learn more at

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