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Coming in at #4 for a tech tool that can assist an elementary music teacher for a concert is YouTube. Started in 2005, YouTube has had a powerful effect that can be felt throughout numerous areas including education. Whether your school permits YouTube or blocks it, YouTube can assist an elementary teacher greatly in preparing for a concert.
When selecting song choices for concerts, I will look through various social media sites to find out what songs other music educators have chosen for their concerts. I will then look up the songs on such websites as J.W. Pepper or Musicnotes. Most of the time, there are recordings that you can listen to so that you can get a good understanding of the song. Afterward, I will go to YouTube and look for videos of students performing the songs. I do this for the following reasons:
- I like to hear what the song actually sounds like in a real, live setting, as opposed to a recording studio.
- It is beneficial to hear how the audience might react to the song.
- There is a great advantage to seeing the variety of choreography that teachers create, adapt, or interpret for that particular song.
- When I find videos that a teacher has posted that shows the individual parts, I feel like I struck gold. A couple of years’ back, I had the faculty choir perform Jim Papoulis/arr. Francisco Nuñez’s Give Us Hope with our second graders. On YouTube, I found a video for each part. I sent out the videos to the faculty choir. This helped them greatly in learning their parts.
Students Viewing Choreography
I admit it. My name is Amy and I am not a choreographer. I am lucky that I do not have to create a lot of moves for my students because they perform on risers. However, I am not good at creating moves. I usually have the students assist me with creating movements or I look on YouTube.
When I utilize another teacher’s movements for a song, I will use the YouTube video for the students to learn the choreography. One that my students loved was Chris Ruzin’s split screen choreography for Teresa Jennings’s Here Comes the Snow. By using Chris’s video, my students successfully learned and performed this choreography for their 2015 Holiday Concert. (Thank you Chris!)
Students Viewing Performances
When my students are struggling with a new piece of music, or if they need some inspiration, I will search YouTube to find a performance that will motivate them to connect with the song. A recent example of this was the song Amani by Jim Papoulis & Jacques Sebisaho/arr. Francisco Nunez. I love this song, but I will admit that the Swahili caught me off guard. Fortunately, my fourth graders could learn the Swahili faster than I could, but me tripping over the words was hindering their learning.
When I finally did achieve singing it, we all were struggling with making this piece come together. We had listened to the recording provided on JW Pepper and Musicnotes, but I needed to find a video of a young ensemble performing this with feeling. I found this video of the Coastal Sound International Choral Festival 2011 Choir conducted by Rollo Dilworth. Though the tempo is on the fast side, this recording is beautiful. Rollo and the children feel this music wonderfully. The students and I were in awe. By the time the concert rolled around, we wanted to sing this song forwards and backwards because we knew it so well and loved it so much. That video helped us bridge the gap that we were struggling with when learning the piece.
YouTube’s Tempo Features
Last year, my third graders attempted to learn and memorize the song, Tour the States (Music by Renald Francoeur, Drawing by Craighton Berman, Video by Don Markus, Video Editor Brad Taylor) for their Adventure America Program. This is a great song, but a bit too fast to learn at the current speed. Therefore, I clicked the settings button in YouTube, scrolled up to speed, and changed the speed by one notch. This made it noticeably slower and the students were able to learn it with the video (as well as without the video-they love the visual of the video).
This video also allows you to turn on the subtitles in those same settings (not all videos can do this). I clicked the settings button, scrolled up to subtitles, clicked on English, and then let the students read the lyrics as they appeared on the screen. This assisted with them learning all of the words to the song.
One Tip: Need to perform a sing-along? See if you can find YouTube karaoke videos to assist in your sing-along.
Sad Tip: YouTube used to have YouTube Video Editor built into YouTube’s site, but it was discontinued in September of 2017.
YouTube is Blocked
At numerous schools, YouTube is blocked. Even if this is the case, there are ways to still utilize YouTube without asking your middle school student to hack your school computer to access YouTube (this is surprisingly common from what I have read).
One way is to access the YouTube videos you want to use in class from home. Once accessed, download the videos so that you can show them from your hard drive. There are numerous ways to download a YouTube video. A google search gives “about 245,000,000 results”. Keepvid and Savefrom.net are two of my favorites.
Another way is to take the YouTube url and place it in Safeshare.tv or Viewpure. Both sites will take out the comments and advertisements from the video. They will also create a new link that you can share with your students. The differences are that Safeshare.tv requires you to make a free account. With that account, you can save your safeshare urls, you can trim the videos, and the video no longer leads you back to the original YouTube video. In Viewpure, you do not have to create an account; however, the YouTube logo is on the screen. When you are using the Viewpure url, you can still click on the video’s YouTube logo and go back to the original YouTube video with comments and advertisements.
Tip #1: YouTube Red is a subscription service that will allow you to enjoy videos without ads. It will also allow you to keep videos in the background or offline on mobile devices.
Tip #2: The popular website GoNoodle can host YouTube videos. According to their site, “With the YouTube channel, teachers can utilize videos from YouTube.com to engage the classroom in healthy activity. The videos stream directly from YouTube, but within the GoNoodle environment — which means your class sees none of the distractions of visiting YouTube.”
There are three more tech tools left on this countdown, plus a bonus tech tool! This all leads up to a webinar that showcases all of the tech tools mentioned in this series.
Amy M. Burns is an elementary music educator, clinician, author, and musician. She currently works at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, NJ teaching PreK through Grade 3 general music, grade 5 instrumental music, and grades 4-8 instrumental band. She is the author of Technology Integration in the Elementary Music Classroom, Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with a SMART Board, and Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or more iPads! She is also an author for Online Learning Exchange™ Interactive Music powered by Silver Burdett. She has given numerous presentations on integrating technology into the elementary music classroom as well as being a keynote speaker for music technology conferences in Texas, Indiana, St. Maarten, and Australia. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award, the 2016 NJ Master Music Teacher Award, the 2016 NJ Governor’s Leader in Arts Education Award, and the 2017 Non-Public School Teacher of the Year Award. You can find out more about Amy at her website: amymburns.com