Sfcm Hero

The sound of music

Redesigning the San Francisco Conservatory of Music

I cannot play a lick of music. Tried taking up the violin in high school (my parents still bring it up). Tried guitar. Bass. Drums. Completely tone deaf and cannot keep time to save my life. Which sucks because I love music. All kinds of music. I listen to music all day and love seeing a good live show. And I came of age during the “anyone can learn three chords and start your own band” era of punk rock. Anyone but me apparently. So when I hear people stringing notes and chords together, it feels like magic.

And yet, like every other thing in the world that some people do well and some people cannot do at all, it’s a skill. A skill that must be learned as well as taught. A skill that needs to be practiced. Which is what we heard the first time we walked into the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Practicing. There were students in every nook and cranny of the building practicing every instrument imaginable.

A fixed interactive music player on the SFCM website

A music player lets you experience the joy of music played by Conservatory students and faculty.

These were kids who loved music being taught by people who loved music. That’s the energy we wanted to capture with their new site.

There are two main audiences for this site. High school kids, who play a diverse array of instruments; and their parents, who mostly play the checkbook. Which is a string instrument. Luckily, under the leadership of David Stull, SFCM provides the kind of well-rounded education that gets ovations from both of these groups.

We started our work by talking to members of both these groups, as well as members of the faculty, administration, and the good people at SFCM who’d be maintaining the site. We wanted to make sure we were building something that met everyone’s needs and was flexible enough to meet any changes in the future.

The SFCM Guitar Faculty

The SFCM Guitar Faculty

We made sure the faculty, which was the overwhelming factor students stated in choosing SFCM over other schools, was properly highlighted.

Voice faculty Deborah Voigt

Voice faculty Deborah Voigt

And I’m not sure if you’ve applied to schools lately, but the application process sucks. We wanted to make sure your relationship with the school started off on the right foot, with an easy and friendly inquiry form to fill out.

Making the application process clear.

Making the application process clear.

We were lucky enough to work with SFCM’s own Susan McConkey on this project, who did an amazing job of wrangling thousands of moving parts into submission. And our old friends at Kanopi did the backend piecing together that made it all work.

The site’s been live for about a month now. To rave reviews from staff, teachers, and prospective students. We’ll update this as we start to get data on the success metrics we decided on together at the beginning of the project. We’re confident.

It’s a site the school is proud of and so are we. It feels like the school. And when I look at it, and click through it I can hear the school like I did on that first day I walked into it. Every note. Not all of them perfect. But every one of them aiming to be.

Don’t take my word for it though, take a look for yourself. Volume up.