Online tutorial report: SIOT 15

This online Advanced Tutorial took as its text a series of three online Wikipedia articles on ‘Singing and Voice’, run together in succession and treated as a single document of about 40 pages. The tutorial was run over a four-week period according to the usual format, with an initial   two-week period for participants to compile their indexes, followed by a fortnight devoted to analysis and discussion topics; there were four ‘core’ analysis topics and two optional topics for weekend study, for those participants who were able to devote some additional time.

Participants (10 in all, at various stages of the SoI Training Course) were asked to compile an index selecting headings, subheadings and cross-references as they saw fit. The text threw up interesting challenges: it was at one and the same time general and yet specialized, it was aimed at a wide readership, and there were terms that in a longer document might well have been treated quite fully, but here received only scant mention or coverage. I personally found it easy to misjudge significant information content, including overlooking points that could be wrongly construed as trivial. It was also instructive getting to grips with the plethora of potential entries concerning ‘voice’, ‘vocal’ and ‘register’ that could all-too-easily degenerate into a tangled web.

The four ‘core’ topics were concerned with (i) identifying potential users, and also handling the various ‘vocal’ entries, (ii) cross-references, (iii) subheadings and (iv) passing mentions and unsought terms. They therefore covered essentially all aspects of deciding what to put in an index and how to arrange it effectively. The final topic (passing mentions and unsought terms) was perhaps especially useful. The two optional topics were devoted (i) to the wording of entries (word selection and order, and the use of modifiers and qualifiers) and (ii) to the indexing of the large number of proper names in this text (mainly, how to decide which to include and, therefore, much concerned also with passing mentions and unsought terms).

The tutorial was well-structured and well-paced (2-3 days for each analysis topic) and the objectives and deadlines were very manageable. One of the great benefits of the online format is of course the informal discussion and the sharing of participants’ indexes and contributions. Shortly after the conclusion of each topic, the tutor (Jan Worrall) posted a comprehensive summary of the foregoing discussion, with very helpful comments and advice and, just before the end of the course, she posted her own index of the text.

I learnt a great deal from this tutorial and also from the contributions of my fellow trainees. It was a friendly and enjoyable experience too, as participants’ comments afterwards amply confirmed.
Nick Walton