Music Student Case Study: Mark Wong
“Rockhaq has changed my life. Facebook is just about writing what you’re doing or updating your status, but on Rockhaq you’re really able to explore the depths of your imagination. I’ve been able to say things I’ve always wanted to say and I never think ‘oh no, I have to write that course project’, I write on Rockhaq because I really want to do it and I love being on there. Rockhaq has a way of really sucking you in and motivating you to want to write music reviews. I hope that it becomes an internet phenomenon. You just don’t get communities that have been brought together so wonderfully as they have been on here.”
Mark Wong is a 19 year old BTEC Music Technology student at South Nottingham College who plays guitar, bass and loves a wide range of rock music including Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. Mark is considered by some of his teachers to be one of the most able and dedicated students in his year at college. At first Mark was not interested in joining Rockhaq to write music reviews because he couldn’t see why it would be so interesting/engaging. The results have been awe-inspiring.
Mark’s interest in joining the Rockhaq community was sparked after seeing his fellow South Nottingham College student and friend Josh Tolley rewarded with The Mars Volta’s Noctourniquet album to review as a result of his commitment to writing music reviews. This and Josh’s constant positivity about the community encouraged Mark to ask his teacher to join as an extra curricular/enrichment activity.
Mark’s first review on Muse’s Origin of Symmetry album was an essay of over 1,000 words! Mark needed direction on how and why reviews need to be short and he also needed some direction with grammar usage. Mark expressed a desire to pen a review on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, which gave Rockhaq founder and music journalist Michelle Dhillon some cause for concern. As a classic rock album, this needed to be singled out as a work of art and Michelle was not convinced that any Rockhaq student would be up to the job. However, Mark’s review of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon bowled Michelle over, won Review of the Week and attracted a lot of comments from fellow Rockhaq community members on it.
Mark has since gone on to write nearly twenty reviews in his own time outside of school on artists including seminal legends Led Zeppelin, electro-rock pioneers Depeche Mode, rap-rock innovators Rage Against The Machine, electro-pop sensation Ellie Goulding, and he is currently number two on the Member Leaderboard on our homepage. Mark won Review of the Week for his review of The Strokes debut album Is This It? as this marked yet another turning point for him and the Rockhaq community. Mark was starting to describe musical techniques and apply the knowledge he has as a bassist and guitarist and the skills he is learning on his BTEC Music Technology course to his Rockhaq music reviews.
How has Rockhaq made a difference so far?
Although Mark’s writing skills are fluid, he has a tendency to confuse words and make slight grammar errors. He has responded well to receiving feedback from the Rockhaq editors and is working on his skills and confidence levels so that he can instantly publish his work and become a student editor for South Nottingham College. Mark has been inspired to pick up the thesaurus to find alternative words when it comes to describing music techniques in his music reviews and also watches more rock and pop documentaries to increase his cultural and historical appreciation of the artists he adores.
Mark has had a groundbreaking impact on the direction of the Rockhaq community. His efforts have opened the door for other community members to write about classic albums providing they do this with maturity and a high level of skill. Mark’s classic album reviews have inspired and given direction to other members on how to do this to a high standard, as can be seen on the comments on some of his reviews.
Mark has also attracted positive comments about his reviews from his parents and friends outside the Rockhaq community, showing wider peer and community engagement and the reach that Rockhaq can have far beyond the traditional school environment.
How often does Mark use Rockhaq?
Mark logs into Rockhaq everyday, sometimes several times a day depending on the frequency of his reviews. Mark mainly writes on his Rockhaq blog in the evenings or during his spare time. Mark also shares his reviews with friends on Facebook and Twitter. Mark was inspired to join Twitter because of Rockhaq and he is now learning how to use it in a professional, targeted way.
Mark plans to continue onto the Level 3 segment of his BTEC Music Technology course at South Nottingham College next year and hopes to continue writing on Rockhaq and ideally being an active student editor for the South Nottingham College blog group.
Mark had never considered music journalism as a career option before Rockhaq, but he now sees it as another, more creative but equally realistic, option for a career after he completes his music courses. Rockhaq is proving to be a very valuable experience for Mark and he is looking forward to assuming a leadership role and feeding back on other students’ work.