Teaching Music in the Youtube generation.

The Challenge of teaching music in the YouTube generation.

Do you know anyone that doesn’t know about YouTube? I’m pretty sure that most people who use a computer, tablet or smart phone these days know about the value that YouTube gives as a source of free information via video.

Around 6 Billion hours of video were watched in March this year in 61 languages with growth of mobile YouTube users growing by 27% annually. With these staggering figures it would be easy to think that the ear of personalised music lessons is going into decline, HOWEVER this is in fact not the case.

The creation of YouTube in 2005 has in fact given more people a chance to realise how amazing it is to make music! If anything YouTube could be considered a promotional tool for music! Personally I love to use YouTube to watch Music Videos as well as instructional videos for using new software for example. I’ve even learned a few ukelele tunes from YouTube videos. I have students who surf their favourite songs and discover the viability or playing them through some of the tutorials they find free online also.

It might sound like I’m promoting YouTube as the way forward for Music Lessons, but in fact there is strong evidence seen by the numbers of people still enrolling in traditional face to face music lessons, that YouTube does not satisfy everyone, nor does it fulfil all the functions a personalised lesson does.

So why do students ( children, teens and adults) still want a face to face lessons?

  • Sometimes it’s because they need the confidence boost of knowing that someone experienced is checking what they are doing.
  • Perhaps it’s just a need for personal interaction and having a real person show them exactly where to put their fingers, hold their arms, place their feet or whatever.
  • Quite commonly a regular lesson with a real person will be more motivating and achieve more than just watching a video and trying to motivate yourself to work at improving or learning a skill.
  • Quality can be an issue. Not all videos are of the same quality, but once you find a great teacher, the quality is consistent (usually, although we all have our off days!)
  • There is a demand for sequential development which YouTube videos may not always provide, or can waste a lot of time to find.

These are just some of the reasons I have heard from students I personally have taught over the last few years. As a qualified and highly experienced teacher, trainer, examiner and author it’s comforting to know there is still a strong demand for traditional music lessons, even though the YouTube generation has also added some challenges.

As a trained teacher of multiple instruments, it is perturbing or even distressing to find:

  • Others get started but hit a “brick wall” in their learning because they aren’t given a logical sequence of skills and knowledge and have gaps that stall their progress
  • Bad habits have developed that make playing more difficult than it should be.

The worst case scenario though is when someone thinks they “don’t have the talent” to learn to make music, based on not being able to understand what to do by following a bunch of random videos. Everyone deserves the chance to make music in some form and not everyone has to be a professional or even a performer. Making Music is good for the soul and will uplift your spirits.

So what do I believe is the biggest challenge for Music teachers now? It’s not about how to compete with YouTube, or stop people using YouTube or other technology. The challenge today in 2014 is to embrace technology, but be selective in what is used, learn to use it and help others also be selective in its use.

How do I currently use technology in my music lessons?

  • I regularly record audio tracks for students to use,
  • Record videos as demonstrations and instructional segments,
  • Use a variety of notational, aural and other apps on my ipad
  • Offer lessons via Skype Hookup
  • Use Digital instruments (piano and drums)
  • Surf the internet and YouTube for demos, ideas, lyrics, chord charts and more.
  • Organisation and Communication via email/sms technology (duh!)

My Teaching business relies on technology to provide marketing and operate administration functions. I have invested heavily over the last few years into developing teaching content and methods that will soon be available within our Wendy’s Music School Franchises in online delivery format but with a teacher connected via a “skype type “ live video link to give the personalised assistance many people still prefer.

Being part of this period of history is exciting if we can face the challenge to embrace it and keep up with frequent changes!

Wendy Brentnall-Wood

B.Mus.Ed, A.Mus.A, MIMT

Music Teacher, Trainer, Examiner, Author and CEO of Wendy’s Music Companies

MOB: 0418 394 556

SKYPE ID: wendybrentnall




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