What? Social media can help kids succeed in class? Well, if the kids in question are in college, there’s a good chance there’s a better-than-even chance that they’re using social media all the time anyway, so all we can do is show them how to put their social media chops to good use. In this guest post, educator Justin Miller shows us how.

It might seem counterintuitive—social media actually improving your grades and and music skills?—but is doesn’t have to be. Social media outlets can be wildly effective tools for planning parties, but these networks can also be helpful when it comes to acing the hands-on components of your courses, particularly when it comes to music. There are some uses you might not even expect.

Hands-on practice is often viewed as the more difficult component of a course, but it’s extremely valuable in terms of gaining experiences that tie together the physical, mental, and emotional…and these are the kinds of experiences you want to have before graduation. It’s one thing to be successful in a theoretical lecture, but it’s another to ace the real test—performance.

Here are three ways to leverage your social media accounts to boost your grades in music courses—and perhaps your regular lectures as well.

1. Connect with a study group.

This is likely the simplest way to use social media to improve your grades, but it’s also the most overlooked. When you start your practice component, make connections with other students via Facebook or Twitter—or perhaps your university’s own network, if it has one. These connections make it easier to schedule practice groups—if you have a spare hour or two after class, tweet your classmates for an impromptu get-together. The more time you invest in learning the material and techniques, the easier they will come to mind—and the better your grades will be. Your classmates may have different tips and tricks to share with you that you might not learn outside of a practice group. Don’t be afraid to take over an empty room in the music building and work it out.

2. Create flash cards on Pinterest.

Pinterest isn’t just the land of twee crafting projects and countless recipes—it’s also a place to store your notes in visual form and keep track of various small components that are essential for building a strong musical base. To get even more bang for your buck, get your classmates in on the action. You can create digital flashcards and upload them to your various accounts, and other classmates will be able to pin those that are relevant to them. Learning happens in various forms, and for those of us who rely on visuals, Pinterest can serve as a useful and entertaining clearinghouse. Think of how clearly you can picture the DIY project you pinned for a holiday gift. Wouldn’t it help if your music theory notes were just as clear?

3. Get outside assistance and mentoring from pros.

Beyond your classmates, friends, and family, there are millions of professionals in many fields who have presences on social media outlets—and are willing to go public. If something just isn’t clicking, befriend or follow some pros in a related field to your course—whether you’re looking at composing, performing, or conducting—and reach out through these networks. Is there a 100% chance that they’ll respond? No, but you might find that they have a different perspective that can shift your thinking on the topics at hand. Plus, it’s never a bad thing to start building a professional network, even if you’re not on LinkedIn—when you graduate and leave those courses behind, you’ll need a variety of contacts in your field. Not only can forming a mentoring relationship with a professional (even if it’s just via Facebook or Twitter) be valuable for your courses at university, it can help you launch your career.

Students might think of social media only as a distraction from their courses and corresponding practice sessions, but it doesn’t have to be. Most of us can admit to spending a little too much time browsing our networks, but this time can also be leveraged to boost grades and cement the material that we’re studying firmly in our minds. Social media doesn’t have to be a student’s main study avenue, but as long as they’re online, they might as well take advantage of the benefits it has to offer. So log on today and start connecting.

Justin Miller is a professional blogger that writes for Jamplay.com. JamPlay is a leading online music educator offering 2,000+ beginning guitar lessons in HD.