Issue 6: YouTube as a teaching resource

I use YouTube a lot as a teaching resource for school and private teaching.  I suspect I am only scratching the surface of what is possible.  If you have RealPlayer installed on your computer, then you should be able to easily download YouTube videos.  When you let the mouse pointer roll over the  video, a little box asking you if you want to download the video should appear; click it, and there you are.

I leave it to you to be alert to what you download, and to be aware of any copyright issues.

Piano teaching

YouTube is solid with clips of small eager children all across the world performing their piano exam pieces, plus a few teacher/adult performances as well.  As long as the student is not cast into despair at the vision of a nine-year-old galloping through their Grade 7 piano piece at break-neck speed, they are useful to watch; firstly to get an idea of what the piece sounds like, and then to develop a critical (in the sense of analytical, rather than disparaging) ear.  We sometimes listen to the different versions in a piano  lesson, and discuss what makes one performance work, or what could be improved in another performance.  There are also a lot of on-line lessons where teachers post instructional videos for their students.  I haven’t researched these in detail yet – any comments from those who have?

This doesn’t only apply for exam pieces; many popular classics have numerous versions on YouTube, including performances by the great names of yesterday and today.  It is fascinating to listen to all the different interpretations.

A number of my students spend hours with YouTube learning from tutorials of how to play Coldplay and Muse and other current popular tracks.  I haven’t the patience to learn this way, but the students who have steadfastly resisted all attempts I have made to get them to become fluent note-readers much prefer learning by ear or by watching someone else and copying them.

Class Teaching

It is a good idea to check with school policy beforehand as some schools don’t allow any Youtube at all on principle.  You will almost certainly be unable to play the video over the internet, as most schools block all access to YouTube – even from the Singup website!


It is essential to watch the clip all the way through to the end before showing it to the children!  There is a really pretty claymation version of the story of the Creation of the world according to the Bible which I thought would be perfect for an infant class; but in the final closing moments of the story, Adam sits up, spots Eve next to him and one thing rapidly moves on to another… I did consider using the clip with my finger hovering over the STOP button, but decided it really wasn’t worth the risk.

I don’t up-load anything to YouTube, so you won’t find me there (as far as I know!).  I should think that on most occasions uploading anything to do with teaching would be a Very Bad Idea unless you have arranged permission from everyone involved in the video.


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