With many teachers looking for options for online recitals, we wanted to share what our program had successfully done for our spring solo recitals.
This all started with a test during our achievement week. When lessons went online, we didn’t want our group classes to just continue on in the same way. Instead we looked for new ideas as well as try ideas we had in the past in a new way. For example, each group class teacher hosted an online parent forum (Zoom Meeting) during their regular group class time; this was an opportunity for parents to get together and have discussions on particular topics. All meeting links were shared program wide and any family could join any discussion. This was well received as parents missed that interaction with fellow parents in the program.
Traditionally during our achievement week, a student performs a piece before a panel of teachers and gets positive feedback. Since moving online, we wanted to test the ability of parents use of YouTube. We had our families upload their child’s performance to YouTube and share the link with their private teacher who then distributed it to the 3 assigned teachers for that particular student. The assigned teachers would watch and email comments and remarks to the parents and private teacher.
We really helped our parents through this process by creating a detailed how-to guide with screen shots and setting up the proper settings for privacy. (We’ll touch more on the settings later). Additionally, prior to rolling this out, we had an online faculty meeting and taught each teacher so they could help their students if need be. Lastly, we wanted a couple of backup plans: The family could send the video to their private teacher to upload; or the teacher could record the student’s performance during their private lesson with Zoom and upload later.
It was obvious that videos recorded with one’s phone and uploaded to YouTube were of considerable higher quality than recording with Zoom. This was one determining factor in having our recitals uploaded to YouTube. Even if we did a ‘live’ Zoom performance, we felt the quality wouldn’t do the students justice to their hard work. Lastly, achievement week gave parents and teachers a chance to get familiar with the technology and process.
The students still had an opportunity for that ‘live’ experience in group class prior to recital weekend. They performed their piece for their classmates and had the excitement of a ‘live’ performance with immediate and positive feedback as well as encouragement from fellow students.
Recording the Video
There were several guidelines that we suggested to our families such as: Dress up in typical concert wear, bowing, smiling, announce the piece, have a nice non-distracting background, etc. All typical of what we would expect with an in-person recital.
The quality that many cellphones produce is of a high enough definition to give a clear picture and quality audio.
Uploading the Video
Once again we provided a detailed how-to with screen shots for the parents. We outlined how we wanted the titles of the videos presented, ie. Students name, piece, and composer.
Several settings needed to be set in YouTube to properly protect our children. One of the things that needed to be set was that the video was made for children. What this does is prevent the video from being downloadable, prevents age inappropriate advertisements, and blocks comments. Also the video was to be listed as unlisted. The only way to access the video is with a private link and the video is not searchable in YouTube. Safety was a strong consideration in setting up our online recitals. You can download the how-to below.
The Concert Program
With videos set up with the settings above, they cannot simply be added to a playlist in YouTube. Our work around was a beautiful hyperlinked PDF. Many families love to save the concert programs so this still offered an opportunity to do that. Our program is of a capacity where we need to have 4 separate concerts for our students. So we created 4 separate documents, one for each recital as we would have done for in-person recitals.
The student’s name was listed with their piece and composer. The teachers had provided all that information in the order they wanted their students in. All that remained was to link that text with the YouTube link that the parents provided. The following is what one of our programs looked like:
A nice touch was a video introduction by our Executive Director, Mark Mutter:
The concert programs were emailed to all of the families in our program. They shared it with their friends and extended family. Many of our families appreciated the ability to share their child’s performance with those who live a distance and cannot normally attend a recital.
After the programs circulated for a week, we encouraged parents to remove their videos from YouTube. This was optional and totally up to them. This just added an extra layer of privacy for the families that wanted it.
Many of the families and teachers watched all the videos on all 4 concert programs and the response was super positive. We were still able to create a positive recital experience for everyone and the traditional looking concert program with every performers name listed helped to offer the sense of community.
If you have any questions, we are always happy to fellow teachers and families!