Jul 18, 2011

Enhancing Concert Programs with QR Codes

Scan this!
What is it?
A QR code looks like the graphic on the left and enables smartphone users (your parents & students) to access more information with an app that can read QR codes.  QR stands for quick response.  QR codes enable users to receive data including URL links, map coordinates, and even text.  They are gaining popularity and can be found in places like newspaper ads and on food packaging.  In fact, Disney is using them at their theme parks as a quick way to view pictures that were taken by their photographers.  For example, my family had our picture taken with Mickey Mouse and the photographer gave me a card with a QR code.  I scanned the code with the Scan app and was instantly taken to a Disney website where I could preview the pictures and place an order if I wish. Very efficient and impressive! 

QR codes have the ability to make your concert programs more informative and interactive.  Next to each piece in the concert program, a QR code can be included to list program notes or give the audience more information about the composer, like a photo and their bio.  Just remember, not everyone in your audience will have a smartphone.

What else?
Think about including QR codes in a band handbook, practice record, permission slip, or any document where they could add value.  Here are some ideas:  When a copy of the band handbook is sent home, put a QR code on it that will take the parent to the band website.  Slap a QR code onto a practice record that shows the parent or student what a correct, completed practice record should look like.  When a permission slip for a field trip is sent home, include a QR code(s) so the parent can see the website of the place your group is visiting.  For example, if the group is going to a Chicago Symphony Orchestra Young People's concert, include a QR code that takes the parent or student to the CSO website where more there is information about the concert program and the featured composers.

Creating a QR code
It's easy.  There are free QR code generators online, and I recommend QuikQR because of its simplicity.  Just enter the URL you wish to link to and hit the "generate code" button.  QuikQR gives you the option of saving the code as a .PNG (graphic) file or emailing it to yourself.  Saving it as a graphic allows you to insert the QR code just like a regular picture file.  You can also enter text instead of a URL and your readers will be able to view all the data entered.

When including QR codes, think about their value.  Are you simply adding QR codes because it's the new, cool technology or is it adding real value to your document?  QR codes should make your documents more interactive and intuitive, not leading the reader to the same information.

What are your ideas for using QR codes in your music program?


  1. I love the idea, think about the time people are sitting around waiting from the time kids arrive to school until the concert starts. This gives the 'informance' aspect in a less formal manner.

  2. I know, right? At my school, some the parents can waiting for 45 minutes before the concert starts.

  3. Thanks for this fantastic post! I've actually been doing a great deal of investigation into using QR codes in the music classroom. I've been looking at using them to share recorded versions of student work, both in the form of a "bulletin board" concert as well as a "business card" link to a student's online portfolio.

  4. Great ideas Bill! Let me know how they go.