YouTube can be a great tool for finding inspirational recordings and educational videos to show our students. However, there are also many less than wonderful recordings and tutorials out there that can be the source of much frustration for our students!
Like it or not, many of our students spend hours each week using this popular social media platform, so why not harness the power of YouTube and use it as a positive force in our studios?
Today, I am sharing 10 ways you can use YouTube in your lessons, along with some of my favorite videos and channels that you and your students are sure to love! Keep reading to learn more....
1. Show students model performances of their pieces.
This is, of course, one of the most obvious reasons that we often turn to YouTube to help our students! Here are a few tips to help make sure your students are listening to the best possible recordings of their pieces:
- Steer students towards recordings by pianists you know and love. There are literally thousands of versions of popular classical pieces on YouTube, so if at all possible find a specific version by your favorite pianist to share with your student instead of having them watch whatever comes up first in the search results.
- Look to see if your favorite contemporary pedagogical composer has a YouTube channel. You might just find a recording of your student's piece being played by the actual composer--and what better inspiration is there than that?
- Look for reputable channels that have professional-level performances. One of the most complete resources I have found for pedagogical music is the University of Iowa's Piano Pedagogy Project, which has over 3,000 videos of pedagogical pieces at the time of this writing. You can find that channel HERE.
2. Help students choose new repertoire.
Use the resources mentioned above to send students links to video performances of options when you are choosing music for recitals or festivals! As a bonus, this insures that your student already has a model performance video in hand when they make their selection and start to practice their piece.
3. Have your students critique performances by others.
There are lots of amateur videos on YouTube that might not be the best choice for performance models, but make excellent opportunities for your student to "be the teacher."
Find a performance of one of your student's repertoire pieces and invite your student to listen and critique the performance. For example, you might ask your student:
- Did the performer obey the tempo, dynamics, and articulation markings in the music?
- Did the performer play with good technique and posture?
- Did the performer communicate the story behind the music?
- How do you perform this piece differently when you play it?
4. Use YouTube tutorial videos as an opportunity for rote teaching.
While the phrase "YouTube tutorial" may cause you to cringe, remember that not all tutorial videos are created equal! Look for channels that have leveled tutorials so you can help your student find a piece that is accessible for their current level without frustration.
By the way, did you know that I have a whole playlist of beginner and late beginner YouTube tutorial videos with links to the accompanying sheet music? Check it out HERE!
5. Show students educational videos about music theory, music history, and more!
YouTube can be a great resource for educational videos on a variety of music-related topics. I have used YouTube to show my students video demonstrations of Baroque and Classical dances; introductions to the pipe organ, harpsichord, and pianoforte; orchestra performances featuring the different instrument families, and much more!
If I am looking for something specific (for example, an explanation of a specific theory concept), I can usually find several options with a quick search of YouTube. There are also a few channels I have found myself returning to again and again for content to share with my students. These channels have a ton of videos, so take some time and browse around for videos you think will be helpful for you!
- Classic FM: Find inspiring performances, instrument demonstrations, and music history resources on this channel belonging to one of Britain's public radio stations. I especially enjoy their "Fast and Friendly Guide" videos that give a quick explanation of different periods of music history and introductions to different composers--perfect for older students and adults.
- 8-bit Music Theory: if you have students who are gamers, this channel is a must-watch, with tons of educational videos that delve into the theory behind famous video game tunes.
- Andrew Huang shares videos on a wide array of topics, from cool musical instruments to chord theory to music analysis.
6. Help students develop active listening skills using listening map videos.
I've blogged before about my love of listening map videos for helping students develop their active listening and analysis skills. You can find several of my favorite listening map videos in this article HERE.
7. Use YouTube backing tracks for scale practice and improv activities.
There are thousands of free backing tracks on YouTube that can be used to spice up scale practice or to accompany improv activities! A quick search will pull up tracks in pretty much any key or any accompaniment style you need.
I blogged about a few specific YouTube backing tracks I have used for easy improv activities, and how I use them, HERE!
8. Have students practice along with YouTube recordings for duets and ensemble pieces.
If you have students working on a duet, accompanying an instrumentalist or vocalist, or doing any kind of ensemble work--YouTube can be a game changer! Have students practice right along with a recording of their piece.
You can even slow down the playback speed (look under "settings" for options) as students first start working on a piece, then increase the tempo as students become more comfortable with the music.
9. Use YouTube to create playlists that introduce your students to famous composers and their works.
Have you discovered a fabulous performance that you want to share with your students? Do you have favorite pieces that you feel every student in your studio should be familiar with?
Create playlists that you can share with your students! If you aren't familiar with how to save videos and create playlists, YouTube has a handy guide that walks you through exactly how to do that HERE.
10. Use YouTube to create virtual recital opportunities for your students.
Do you need an alternative to the traditional recital? Look no further than YouTube! You can use the playlist feature to create your own virtual recital in a snap by having students upload their recordings onto their own channels and send you the link.
Check out my blog post HERE for step-by-step instructions on how I have created virtual holiday recitals using YouTube.
What do you think? Do you use YouTube in your lessons? Any tips, favorite videos, or must-see YouTube channels you would like to share? Drop a comment below--I'd love to hear your ideas!