Last December, I began a project to create educational videos for my students to watch outside of the classroom. In each video, I focus on a musical concept or playing technique and explain it in 60 seconds. My theory was that students would be more likely to watch if videos were concise and very specific. After several months, I could not be happier with the results. My students watch the videos and come to class far more prepared than ever before. I spend a lot less time in class reviewing because students do it at home on their own.
I have found that my students have gained confidence and competence by learning with a video resource outside of the school day. Students can pause, rewind, and re-watch the videos to gain a greater depth of understanding. The best part is that students can do this at their own pace. They can use the videos to study for quizzes, to reinforce their understanding of terms and techniques in concert music or playing assignments, or to get a glimpse of what skills and terms they will learn in the future. When the students take control of their learning outside of school, they return to class eager to learn more.
Additionally, these videos encourage parents to take an interest in their child’s musical learning. In my district, an overwhelming majority of parents have no orchestral experience. Without experience in the subject area, it can be challenging to support their child’s learning at home. With these videos, parents learn the same vocabulary as the students, learn about proper technique and what posture to look for when their child practices at home.
DYNAMICS - A MINUTE OF YOUR TIME
Choose a concept or technique to feature in your first video. Examples: slurring, rhythm counting, bow hold, posture, or instrument position.
Write a reusable script and leave a blank space to insert the topic of the video. Place the script on a music stand, desktop, or any location where you can see it clearly but it is not in the camera shot.
Decide what information is most important. Be concise. Show, don’t tell if you can. Demonstrate on an instrument or show a visual aid such as music, a diagram, flow chart, etc.
Practice what your going to say to determine the correct pacing, inflection, and volume of your speech.
Pick your location. Check the lighting so that the video can be seen clearly and without glare. The location should be quiet so that outside sounds will not distract the viewer.
Use a smartphone or other video recording device. Set up your device on a music stand, desktop, or tripod and do a test shot to make sure it captures everything in your video. Start the recording remotely, if possible, to record your video. After recording a successful take, view the video. Can you hear and see everything in the video clearly? You don’t have to use the first take. Record a couple of attempts and pick the one you prefer.
The final step is to upload the video to YouTube or other video hosting site and share the link with your students and parents.
CELLO EXTENSIONS - A MINUTE OF YOUR TIME
Keep the videos short and focus on a specific concept or technique.
Use the same vocabulary in the videos that you use in class.
Once you have more than one video on YouTube, create a playlist to share with your audience. Watch this tutorial to learn how to create a playlist.
Ask students what concepts or techniques they would like to see in a video.
This process may take several attempts at first, but overall I think you’ll find it doesn’t take much time all. You might even be able to record some videos during the school day.
Learning isn’t restricted to the classroom environment. Students can be engaged in learning outside of school hours. These videos are just one way to help students to take control of their own learning outside of school and to also engage parents in the learning process. There is no limit to the amount of videos you can create or the multitude of content you can include. Have fun making the videos and enjoy the process!
Chris Griffith teaches orchestra at Rotolo Middle School in Batavia, IL and plays double bass professionally. He is in his second year of teaching at Rotolo Middle School and ninth year as a music educator. All of Chris' A Minute of Your Time videos can be found on his YouTube channel.