Until last winter, I hadn’t thought much about YouTube, the very popular video-sharing site, for at least a few years. Why? I wasn’t much interested in cat videos, sports highlights or videos of monster trucks crushing cars.
But last fall, I picked up an older electronic piano for a bargain at a yard sale to give learning to play the piano another try and see if I would stick with practicing over the winter. I had tried the piano in the past with no luck; but with age comes patience (usually), and I wanted to give it another go.
Of course, I did Google searches on how to learn to read music, find printable chord charts and other tidbits for piano beginners. I figured there had to be something out there for the beginning piano player, and even though my work and life seems to center around the internet, I was surprised with what I found: YouTube has become a great educational resource for almost anything you want to learn.
There are still lots of cat videos (and I confess I’ve watched a few videos of border collies, because I own one). But there are millions of people who run their personal YouTube “channel” with their work and make money at it through advertising. (Google bought YouTube nine years ago, and it shows). But the video resources for learning many skills in music and the arts are amazing, and they’re free.
There must hundreds of different people offering piano tutorials alone. The quality of the piano videos range from the amateur who duct tapes a video camera to a floor lamp and aims it at their piano, and run all the way to the professionals who use video production techniques to superimpose sheet music and MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) output to show you exactly which keys to play as indictors sweep across the musical notation.
You’ll be able to find as many early lessons as you need to get going. And you can buy more advanced lessons, books and CDs, too. But for a beginner, all you really need to get started is free.
Of course, nothing can substitute for a human teacher, be it piano or painting or anything else, but beginning on YouTube can give you a good idea if you’ve got the motivation to learn an instrument and stick with it.
One caveat: YouTube doesn’t give you an option to download videos so you can watch them offline as standalone films. But it is possible to download videos anyway if you have a little technical know how. Google for browser extension download youtube and you will find an add-on for your favorite browser that will give you a one-click method to download the video from YouTube and convert it from Flash to a regular digital movie on your hard drive. That way, you can watch video lessons offline and away from the distractions of the rest of the browser.