Dare to be different

Apparently YouTube was created in 2005 but can you remember a time without it?

To me, it seems like it has been around forever and I have found it, at times, a useful tool when it comes to teaching. But it also raises some interesting questions to ponder.

When I was learning there was no instant access to a recording so I could hear how something should sound. I had to work things out for myself or purchase a CD if I wanted a professional recording for inspiration.

Nowadays when you send students home to learn a piece they can often easily access a video recording – and if it is an exam piece, there are usually several to choose from. This can be a good or bad thing, depending on your perspective.

Does it encourage students to think for themselves, for example? A big downside is that they can hear the rhythms without having to work it out. On the upside, however, it could be said that access to a recording might stop rhythmic errors becoming ingrained during the time in between lessons.

Furthermore, could it lead to a situation where students are producing carbon copies of the recording and not ‘daring to be different’ by coming up with their own interpretation?

Sometimes, though, a choice of recordings can spark a useful discussion. I ask students to listen to several different versions and we talk about how each has been interpreted. It gets them thinking about how they can bring a lot more to the score than is on the page and what they perhaps like or dislike in an interpretation. I find this particularly useful at the higher grades.

What are your thoughts about the use of recordings, whether from YouTube or other sources? Do you find them to be helpful or a hindrance?

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