Saturday, February 16, 2013

Youtube addicts...

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.


  1. Hey Matt! I'm delighted to hear that there is more to Youtube then the latest video version of "Call Me Maybe". But a few questions...
    1) Have you video taped your group yet and posted the performance to Youtube?
    2) When you and your students search for videos, do you allow each student to individually look for Youtube videos (thus giving them the access code) or do you as a whole class search and view the videos on your LCD?
    3) Have you run into any inappropriate content yet? Even just as a video suggestion or thumbnail?

  2. 1. I am hesitant to tape my kids and put it up there. I need look into the "Permission to Photo" list and speak to my administrator about it. Right now I am audio recording and posting the mp3's on my site for them to reference and listen to. Interestingly enough, my kids FREAKED out when I mentioned posting their performances on the Internet. They actually practice a little harder when they know a recording day is coming. It is a negative motivator, but it works!

    2. Due to the lack of access to a class set of laptops, we just watch and search together on the LCD, plus (this leads into your 3rd comment)...

    3. I have the ability to control the searches and filter out inappropriate content. Before I introduce this into a class, I do the searches ahead of time. One of the great, new features of Youtube, I can create playlists and avoid inappropriate videos. THe kids can also find the videos we watch in class or ones they should listen to at home easily on my playlist page.