Have you ever struggled to make your content relevant to students? How do you connect music written hundreds of years ago with the music students listen to in their free time every day? While there's no perfect way to do this, one of our favorite classroom traditions is YouTube Friday.
So what kinds of videos do we watch?Here are some of my favorites:
Playing for Change - great for showing how music can connect us all over the world!
Longs Peak Summit Concert - if you could perform anywhere, where would you perform?
Star Wars Minus Williams - what role does music play in movies?
Happy Birthday Variations - developing vocabulary around different techniques and composition/arranging practices
Landfill Harmonic - a bit longer, but awesome for showing how important music is and how much people give to be able to play
Carrot Clarinet - a fun twist on how to make instruments
There are many more, including some that are more specific to the pieces we are learning or what we have been doing in class. I know there are some awesome, fun videos (Piano Guys, TwoCellos, & Lindsey Stirling come to mind), but I try to steer toward more educational videos for this assignment. The fun ones are saved for our class parties!
I am always amazed at the responses that I get, and I learn so much about my students through these assignments! The videos allow them to hope, dream, imagine, and expand their idea of music beyond what we usually do in class. I get to see their personalities beyond my specific subject and encourage them to dream big! YouTube videos also connect my students to the wider world of music-making. They see "cool" ways of making music, something that is relatable and a nice complement to the Telemann and Bach we study in class.
This is the first year I have had students complete this assignment on Chromebooks, and it has made a huge difference in both their responses and my workflow on the grading end. In the past, I have printed out half-sheets of paper with the questions and had students handwrite the answers. I was pleasantly surprised to find that students give much more in-depth answers when they are typing! In previous years, every week meant more papers for me...to shuffle around, to grade, to (hopefully not) lose, to pass back (or pile up), etc. On Google Classroom, everything is already organized and easy to grade! Students do need to be 1:1 for this to be very effective. Since our Chromebook cart only has 30 Chromebooks, and I have 42 students in one class, I have worked it out with another grade level to borrow 12 Chromebooks from them every Friday. We only use them for the first 15-20 minutes of class, and then move on to rehearsal!