K-12 School Computer Networking/Chapter 26/Using YouTube to Teach the Performing Arts

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Using Youtube to Teach the Performing Arts[edit]


The Basics: YouTube has pretty much become the standard in free Internet video uploading. Perhaps it was solidified by the CNN/YouTube debates during the presidential primaries. In any case, the use of YouTube has now become so pervasive that it is acceptable for use in the classroom. It’s important to understand as a technical support specialist that although the teachers in one’s school may be innovative pedagogues, when it comes to incorporating new technologies into lessons, technical support and even prodding is often needed. The goal of this entry is to provide technical specialists with the knowledge of how to help instructors incorporate the use of YouTube into the classroom. It also provides some guidelines and cautions. Often instructors have trepidations about using anything Internet related in their classrooms for fear of safety. Used properly though, YouTube can be a useful instructional tool in the classroom.

What it is: What is YouTube in the classroom? YouTube is probably useful for all types of information. According to Talab and Butler, you can find all kinds of instructional videos on YouTube, even how to install a hard drive on a Mac. However, it is particularly well suited to the instruction of the performing and visual arts. That is what this section of the Wikibook is dedicated to.

Why: Why should YouTube be used? The ability to have a universal platform for students to access information, review lessons, and more is invaluable. And as far as the world of education is concerned, is unprecedented. It would be wasteful not to take advantage of this tool. But first, education technical specialists have to push teachers to be early adapters. That requires a knowledge of how the site it can be used in instruction, what precautions to take, and how to communicate with the subject area teachers.

Example Subjects YouTube Can Be Used For[edit]


Learning Steps: Dance, like anything physical, requires constant practice to acquire muscle memory. In order to achieve the most muscle memory as possible, rehearsing and practicing is key. However, students need to practice the correct steps with the correct techniques, or they are merely achieving muscle memory for the wrong things. (This then takes extra practice time to un-learn). YouTube can be used to mitigate this difficulty by providing dance students with an accurate representation of the steps and techniques they need to learn. Instructors at your school can easily upload short instructional videos to the YouTube site so that when students go home to work on the choreography, they are actually practicing the correct steps and techniques. These steps can also be homework for students to learn. Rather than using valuable class time to teach difficult steps, instructors can upload demonstrations and have students come to class prepared with the step. This saves class time for other important things like staging and working on getting the group to dance in unison.

Improving Choreography: A major part of the dance teacher’s job is choreographing pieces for students. But when an instructor is busy working on the minute details of a performance, it’s easy to overlook problems with choreography and miss opportunities for improving the original vision. YouTube provides a platform by which instructors can study their work from any computer with Internet access and improve their work, thus enhancing the students’ later performance. Even if they do not use the site themselves, they can send it to colleagues all over the world for input. Having another professional’s eye can be a great resource in creating choreography. YouTube can be the mechanism for this self-review and review from other professionals.

Aside from uploading one’s own videos, instructors can also search for ideas. From song choices, to choreography, staging, and costuming—teachers can look to other performances on YouTube for inspiration and concrete examples. They can also find what other students are doing who are at the same age and ability level as their own students. Using those examples, they can motivate their students to work harder and try more difficult steps.

A Tool for Practicing: Students can also view an entire routine and practice up to speed with videos uploaded to the site. Instructors are not limited to posting only one step at a time. Entire routines can be loaded for students to study how the pieces of choreography fit together as well as spacing. Furthermore, seeing oneself on a video can help the individual student make adjustments to their techniques, improving themselves before the final performances and pushing their dancing to new levels.

Sharing the Performances: Many hours, often hundreds of hours, are spent on preparing students for a single ninety-second performance. Inevitably all of their family and friends cannot be there to share every performance for which the students work so hard. YouTube’s pervasiveness can be used to the students’ and instructors’ advantage once again in sharing the performances with family, friends, and other professionals. It’s necessary for students to share their work so that they can have a product of which they can be proud. Linking their YouTube performance videos to social networking sites and sending it to far away relatives in friends via e-mail is a great way for students to share their performances with others. Since YouTube videos are viewable through a simple web link, their work is highly accessible. The more instructors that post videos of their students’ performances, the more that will be available on YouTube for other instructors to view. This further enhances the entire process, whereby instructors can get inspiration from the work of other schools. YouTube, with as popular as it’s become, can act as a virtual portfolio for student work. With dance a portfolio is normally difficult as it is usually captured in real time. However, YouTube makes it accessible.

Dancing Concluded: It’s obvious that dance teachers in schools can use YouTube as a tool for learning new steps, sharing performances, enhancing choreography, and giving all students access to practice materials. As an example, the various ways YouTube can be used to teach dance are documented on this video.[1]


Techniques: The archetypal distance learning in art is probably Bob Ross’s public television show. Art teachers can create the same type of experience in K-12 settings. Classroom teachers can provide instructions, techniques, slide shows, and more for their students to view at home or in the classroom. Descriptions of techniques in painting, drawing, sculpture, design and more can already be found on YouTube. Teachers can use what is already there or add their own video.

An example of using YouTube to teach painting can be found here[2]

Displaying Student Work Just as with dance, YouTube can be used to showcase student work. Creating a slide show of exemplary pieces students made in class is a great way to reward students for their hard work as well as give the instructor a permanent example to show subsequent classes.


A classic difficulty with music in the schools is finding time for one-on-one instruction with students. Working on individual student’s embouchure (for the wind instruments), learning new notes, music theory, and other techniques is a must for music teachers attempting to improve the quality of their overall ensemble. Short instructional clips online for vocal and instrumental techniques can be a great use of multimedia to improve the overall level of the musical group.

As with dance, musical performances are particularly suited to video recording to capture the entire experience. Students can share these with family and friends. Teachers can use performance videos to motive and critique everything from posture, rhythm, and pitch. YouTube videos provide students with their own accessible copy of the performances so they can actually refer to it and watch their improvements over time.

Example Subjects Concluded[edit]

In all three of these performing arts subjects practicing and performing are essential parts of the student experience. YouTube can serve as a multimedia aid to help students practice more effectively and share final products. Just as was mentioned by Jeffrey Gentry, YouTube solves the question of bandwidth. Emailing full videos is normally out of the question for their large file sizes; but YouTube solves that problem as well as other compatibility issues instructors often may have run into.

Recruitment and Retention[edit]

YouTube videos can also be used for recruitment and retention purposes. Getting students interested and motivated to participate in the performing arts can often be a struggle. Traditional promotional videos are costly. However, teachers can use their recorded dance and music performances as well as artwork slideshows to advertise their programs to the whole school and improve enrollment. Showing a quick video on the morning announcements can go a long way in attracting new students to a particular program. Students already participating in the programs will again have a reason to be proud of their work and are likely to continue on. In this way, these videos can be used for improving retention rates, which can even lead to the increased security of performing arts programs in K-12 institutions that are too often in jeopardy.

Limitations and Cautions[edit]

If you work as a technical coordinator in education you know that Internet safety is a top priority for teachers, administrators, and parents. Teachers need to be made aware of the possible problems with using YouTube. Of course they need to follow YouTube’s terms of service, using only royalty free music and images. But they also need to protect their students’ privacy. Full names should not be used; in fact, no identifying information of the children should be used whatsoever. It would also be prudent to have parents sign a permission release to make sure they are aware of what the teacher intends to do. Most of the time the instructor will be putting up his or her own videos without students. In the cases of student performances though, students will inevitably be in the videos. YouTube has the option to make these videos private so that only the people the instructor allows has access to view the video content. Many of these issues can be overcome with proper awareness and communication with school administrators and parents.


In short, when used properly, YouTube is a valuable tool for K-12 performance arts educators. It is the job of the school technical coordinator to help make teachers aware of this resource and help teachers use them appropriately.


1) What are two ways YouTube can be used to help in teaching the performing arts?

2) What problems of multimedia sharing does the use of YouTube solve?

3) What is one way a teacher can help protect a student’s identity in using YouTube with K-12 students?

4) What performing arts subjects are particularly suited to the use of YouTube for teaching purposes?


1) YouTube can help in learning new techniques, giving examples of entire pieces, sharing final products, and finding inspiration.

2) YouTube solves problems of compatibility of formats and also of bandwidth.

3) Teachers can avoid putting students full names on YouTube, post only videos of the teachers themselves, and get parents permission before using YouTube in the classroom.

4) Dance, music, and art are particularly suited to using YouTube for teaching.


  • Gentry, J. (2008) Using YouTube: Practical applications for 21st century education. Online Cl@ssroom. 1-8.
  • Talab, T. S., & Butler, R. P. (2007). Shared electronic spaces in the classroom: Copyright, privacy, and guidelines. TechTrends. 51, 1, 12-15.
  • Blog on Classroom 2.0[3]