I don’t like to show too many videos in my classes. It seems to me that students experience such limited music instruction in their school life, we shouldn’t waste even a single second!!! That being said, there are times when I find a short (10-15 minute) video that reinforces a musical concept AND sometimes ties in a cross-curricular concept in a way that I can’t. Sometimes those moving pictures just depict a building site so much better than I can no matter how crazy I get acting out!! We have 45 minute music lessons so I feel that giving over 10-15 minutes to a video does not sacrifice too much time for singing, playing instruments and otherwise MAKING music as is our primary focus. Additionally there are of course those times when I have to be out and face the dilemma of creating plans for substitute teacher who is likely NOT a musician.
To that end I make a lot of use of United Streaming, which my school subscribes to. If you are not familiar with United Streaming (AKA Discovery Education) the Discovery channel has collected a set of educational videos for various ages and subjects and made them available to teachers. Many of them even come with curriculum guides or follow up materials.
In my exploration of United Streaming a stumbled across a set of five short (15 minute) videos that appear to be a series once produced in the UK called “Stop Look Listen: Okey Cokey Karaoke!” The premise is a woman named Okey Cokey who lives in a magical karaoke machine. Each episode introduces a song, often a story-song, and leads the students through several games and activities that explore the song. The show has sections where Okey Cokey leads a game or activity as well as sections in which different instructors speak with a group of children about different things, and you see the children interact and come up with ideas on how to act things out. Each episode emphasizes a different basic musical concept that is appropriate for Pre-K or Kindergarten. Among other things the series discusses echoes, fast and slow, high and low (including those important vocal sirens!) as well as drama and movement concepts that go along with the songs. Each episode ends with another full performance of the song including the student-participation elements that have been developed during the episode.
My students find these videos engaging and I find them to be an excellent use of our music time. They do a fabulous job reinforcing our musical concepts and also pull in other parts of the pre-K curriculum. If there is a drawback it is that all of the actors have heavy British accents, but my students do not even seem to notice.
You can show United Streaming videos using your computer hooked to a television (increasingly easy with new laptops possessing S-Video connections and new TV’s often having VGA input) or using an LCD projector (children always love watching on the big screen!)
ETA: I forgot to mention that the Okey Cokey videos contain many opportunities for the children watching to create music by singing, creating vocal accompaniments, etc. Audience participation is a key element for me in deciding whether a video is worth spending our music time on.