Published: Feb 09, 2021 08:00 AM
Roughly a month ago, Newtown resident Brett Boles was thinking of ways to reach out to his students at William H. Hall High School in West Hartford, and as a result he now has a substantial TikTok following.
As of February 1, Boles had 22,700 followers on TikTok, @brettboles, where he has started a series called “The M Tea.”
“Hi everybody and welcome to The M Tea,” he said in the first video from December 28, “a series where I spill the tea about why certain musical theater songs work so well from a songwriter’s perspective, all in 60 seconds or less.”
The videos are also posted to a Facebook page, facebook.com/themteafb and on YouTube, “Brett Boles.” On TikTok, though, Boles said his students have been following him and joining weekly discussions.
This is Boles’s third year as director of choirs at William H. Hall High School. He is also an award-winning musical theater composer, lyricist, bookwriter, and musical director.
In the first video, Boles talked about “For Forever” from Dear Evan Hansen. Boles explained in a recent phone interview that he started his series with that song because the show is “hot” right now. Near the start of the series, Boles said, he took requests for the songs and musicals he would highlight. Soon he was getting more followers and more requests. He connected with a group of choir directors and teachers online, too, and offered his videos as options for short assignments or things to listen to in class. Local readers may also know Boles through his involvement over the years with NewArts, and Boles said that work brought out the educator in him.
“I think it is really important that not only people who are performing musical theater but also those who consume it as an art form understand the thought process that goes into creating it,” Boles said, about why he started the series.
Just like when he is teaching his students, Boles said he is thrilled when people tell him they understand something more because of his videos.
Along the way, making the videos has become smoother for him. At first, Boles said, he would write what he expected to say in the one-minute video, memorize it, then record the video. Now that he has the rhythm down, he figures out which song and musical he will talk about and then creates the video more quickly.
His college music theory background helps, along with being in the musical theater writing business, Boles reflected. He has a bank of knowledge behind him that helps him spill the tea, or otherwise share the scoop, on all things (m)usic.
And his original desire to connect more with his students? Many join live sessions Boles holds on Friday nights on TikTok. During those live sessions, people can leave requests or ask questions.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Boles said.
As of February 1, Boles had over 70 videos of The M Tea recorded. But there is nothing to worry about — he has a very, very long list of content he can cover.
As an example, Boles covered the musical Wicked in two videos, one on “For Good” and one on “Defying Gravity.”
“I will never run out of content,” said Boles.
Newtown resident Brett Boles is offering music theory lessons based on musicals, each in 60 seconds or less, on TikTok.