Saturday, February 16, 2013
I have always known, but about a month ago it hit me pretty hard that my middle school students are Youtube addicts. I guess somewhere in my brain I knew this already. Everywhere on tv you hear about the latest viral video. Kids in the hall going to and from classes talk about things they saw. One day I carved out an hour of my time and decided to see what was on there. I had been there before to take a look at a link that a friend sends in an email or on Facebook, but I had never invested time there. To my surprise, I traveled in time that day. Starting one night watching tv around 9pm I looked up at the clock at what I thought was 30 minutes or so later and it was midnight!
After realizing how addicting it was, I eventually created an account and started creating playlists. These playlists were for each instrument I teach. My goal was to find videos of great performances on each instrument. It was pretty easy to set up. I have done it twice so far in the past few weeks, but I have a class period where my students and I search Youtube for videos of other ensembles playing the same music we are. We have found everything from horrible performances to ones that make us look like beginners! It is a great experience for my students. Living in a rather small pond of a world, they hardly get to hear other groups of their ability playing the same music. By the end of class we make a "fix list." This what each section of the orchestra needs to work on to improve our music. We discover what to put on this list by critically analyzing our audio recording (done in the previous day's class) and a few other videos on Youtube. It is not just an eye opening experience to some of my students in terms of how much work they still have to put in, but it shows them that there is another use for Youtube beyond wasting time and having fun.
Right now my channel serves as a place to go for in the event that my students are already on Youtube where they can find great performances on their instrument. In the future I hope to add more "How-To" type videos for my students to use as a reference tool in learning a specific aspect of their technique. My use of Youtube is pretty simple for now, but being in a school where every kid has access to the internet and a lab top/smart phone/ or tablet, I hope to find more ways to incorporate it into my program. Youtube is obviously here to stay in the mainstream of our culture, I just need to find better ways to use it.