We all know YouTube as it is a fantastic online platform on which we can watch videos about basically everything, ranging from tips on how to fix your printer to full documentaries about the second world war.
It is undoubtedly an incredibly useful and amazing tool to gather information and watch programs on various topics.
However, like everything else, it has its faults and qualities.
If you watch videos recorded by renowned professionals in any field, it is quite exceptional to have access to thousands of quality content that will help you improve your knowledge and discover more about the things you are interested in.
But, if not used appropriately, it could turn into the most misleading source of information possible.
Can you use it to learn music? No, not really. I am not saying that you should not watch any music-related videos on YouTube but you should not use it to replace a music teacher.
Let’s see why in further details.
How to use and not to use YouTube?
YouTube is the most extraordinary library of music performances ever available to the general public. Using it to discover new artists, watch concerts and listen to songs, jazz standards, opera or classical music pieces is amazing. It is extremely inspirational and it can only be good for you.
However, as a beginner, you should not try and learn anything from this platform, unless advised by your music teacher. It can, indeed, be tempting to learn for free, whenever you feel like it, without any commitment or following a set structure. You could justify it by telling yourself that you are just playing for the pleasure.
Please accept my apologies for being frank but watching various videos on YouTube with the intent of building your music education will not lead you anywhere. You will not become a successful musician if it is the way to intend to go about it.
Why is it a bad idea to watch videos on YouTube to learn music?
1. You do not know who recorded the video
Uploading videos on YouTube is very straightforward. Anybody can do it. It is video-maker friendly but be careful, as the content promoters are not necessarily trustworthy. Their biography is not attached to the video and you are, most of the time, not able to verify their accreditations.
Even if you only play music for pleasure, please stay away from advice or videos that are not recorded by a reputable music school. As a beginner, there are no worse enemies than learning the wrong techniques and picking up bad habits straight at the beginning.
I am not saying that all educational videos on YouTube are of poor quality, I just think that it is better to be on the safe side if you do not have any knowledge in the field yet.
2. Usually quick tips that are contradictory to learning the right way
Videos are often short and about a specific aspect of music playing. They can either be excellent or appalling but they do not, in any case, come with a manual. There is no specific order in which you should watch them as they are all mixed on one platform.
Instead of providing you with a guide to learn music, it offers you a huge amount of information that you might not be able to use correctly as a beginner.
There is no need of discussing the videos that come under titles such as “learn the piano in 2 weeks” or others on which they demonstrate how to play by adding stickers to the piano keys. I can only advise you to stay away as it is contradictory to any good education. It is uninteresting and undoubtedly detrimental.
3. No one follows your progress, you cannot ask questions and you cannot get any feedback
The other issue, if you were lucky enough to find a trusted music teacher who would offer a relatively structured course for beginners on YouTube, is that you cannot get any feedback. Nobody can tell you if you are heading in the right direction or not. You cannot ask questions and no one supports you in your endeavour.
Learning a new skill is similar to stepping into a new world full of unknown territories. Have you ever envisaged to visit a country where locals speak a completely different language and have a very different culture to yours, without a guide? Don’t you think that it would be risky and that you could end up in very dark areas?
4. Heading in the wrong direction could potentially be a huge waste of time
Even if you manage to get some basics from some good tutoring available on YouTube, it is very unlikely, due to the reasons mentioned above, that you will have built a strong foundation on your own. It could be compared to learning a language on your own by listening to locals without having the guidance of an instructor who could teach you the grammar rules and correct pronunciation. You could sound OK but your comprehension of the language would not be strong enough for you to have full control of it.
Why is it a much better idea to seek advice from a professional musician?
To learn how to play music successfully and learn the correct techniques, you need an excellent teacher who can adapt to your specific needs and offer you a personalised teaching while providing you with the necessary motivation to conquer the difficulties that will come along the way.
Thanks to his/her experience in the field, your music teacher will also be able to provide you with a structure and teach you all aspects of music playing in the right order. You will learn step-by-step and only move onto more complex technical exercises and pieces once you are ready.
He/she will be able to answer all the questions you may have, support you in the setbacks, encourage you when you plateau and congratulate you when you are making great progress.
As there is no physical danger to learning how to play music, once does not always realise how detrimental it can be to start on the wrong foot. Unfortunately, it can lead to a complete misconception and understanding of this art, the creation of bad habits and at worse, a loss of interest due to the lack of progress.
Would you hire a small plane and start piloting after checking YouTube for some tips and enlightenment? I do not think so…
Well, music is not easier. It is a wonderful but complex art that needs to be taken seriously and studied properly to make progress and eventually master it.
There are so many brilliant music teachers either online or in your local area who would happily help you reach your goal and become the brilliant musician you have always wanted to be that it would be a shame to waste your time on YouTube!