V.com weekend vote: Is it all right for teachers post videos of their young students online?

May 22, 2020, 4:33 PM · It seems innocent enough: a teacher is proud of a student, so he or she posts a video of a performance or lesson to Youtube or Facebook. Or the teacher would like some advice from other experts or colleagues: How do I help this student? How can I get this child to hold the bow properly? Have you ever seen this problem before?

student online

But how much are we considering the privacy rights of children, when posting videos of their performances or of their lessons? Quite frankly, how much are we considering their feelings?

I'm trying to think how I would feel if I were a child who ran across a video of myself in a Facebook post inviting advice and criticism of my playing, and also sharing personal information. A hypothetical example: "Here is a video of my 10-year-old student. She sings out of tune, never listens to recordings and doesn't seem to care. See the technical problems? How would you advise?"

On the flip side, something that seems like a wonderful achievement to a teacher might feel like embarrassing over-exposure to a student, when posted on the Internet.

As a teacher, even if I had signed permission from the student and parent, I would think long and hard about posting a video of a student online. Does the student want me to do so? Do the parents want me to do so? Does it show the student in a good light, or does it invite criticism? How will the student feel about this video being online, in two years? In five? In 10?

It's important to remember: No group on Facebook is truly a private group. No place on the Internet is truly a private place. And it's hard to permanently or thoroughly remove anything posted, especially several years later, from a teacher may no longer be teaching that student.

Also, it can be illegal to post a video of a child, without that child's parents' permission. Yes, even on Facebook.

Of course, if the student is participating in a public master class that is streamed or taped, this is one thing. The problem comes when the video comes from a private lesson, or a semi-private performance meant for family and friends, when the child did not really understand that this would go out to the entire world.

What are your thoughts about teachers posting videos of young students (under age 12)? Under what conditions is it all right? Or is it ever all right?


May 22, 2020 at 10:04 PM · I think it should be okay if both the parents and child are okay with it. I have learned a lot by watching other young students and their teachers. Also, I don't see it being much different than children in the acting business and getting public attention .

However, as a teacher, I personally would never do it because I am just not comfortable with it. There are too many risks invoved and I wouldn't want to feel responsible if something happened. But I don't have a problem with other teachers doing it, and I wouldn't even mind if a parent recorded part of the lesson and posted it themselves.

May 22, 2020 at 10:51 PM · It depends. If a teacher wants to share a video of a student to seek expert advice, would it be possible to blur the student's face in the video? Also, I think it is necessary to get parental consent before posting the videos.

May 23, 2020 at 12:05 PM · Oh boy. I wouldn't do it if I were a teacher because I'd worry about legal ramifications. What kind of consent would you need to post? Is verbal consent from the parents enough or does it need to be written consent? What needs to be in the written consent document? I think to be safe you'd need to consult a lawyer. If you wanted feedback on a child's playing, maybe as a colleague to join you real-time while you watch the video? Getting parental and child verbal consent is probably good enough for that, as long as the colleague will not have access to a copy of the video.

May 23, 2020 at 12:46 PM · My daughters and I take lessons in a local private music school. There is a registration form for each semester, where you update your contact info and you indicate which courses your child will take (lessons, orchestra, violin group, theory, etc.). The form also asks whether it's okay for pictures or videos of your child to be shared on the web (on the school's website, say, or on Facebook). The folks who run the school always vet the pictures carefully, to make sure no youngster is caught with his finger up his nose, for example, and if a certain child is highlighted in a picture they will ask additional permission for that shot. It is also the policy of the school that family members attending "public" performances who shoot video and pictures of the event will get permission from the school before sharing those on social media. It's quite a conservative approach but one that I personally appreciate (since I perform with them too, as the piano accompanist).

I think if you're getting a "second opinion" from a colleague, you can do that privately, and if you're broadcasting a video to collect "second opinions" openly (for example, on violinist.com), then you should get permission and sanitize the video by blurring the student's face.

Regarding permission generally, getting the parents' permission seems sufficient to me, as the parents can be the ones to decide whether the child's permission is required. But after thinking about it some, I don't think there is any harm in asking the child also. But the parents must agree.

May 23, 2020 at 01:06 PM · While "permission" seems to be the issue being discussed, I think the more important issue is that of having the young musician as the central party in making the decision.

Adults are always making decisions for the young people in their lives and I can remember that I wasn't always happy with the fact that decisions were being made without my input at home and at school. After all we want young people to learn how to make commitments and decisions so we have to let them be a major contributor to the decision making process.

May 23, 2020 at 03:22 PM · If the student cannot be identified from the video, and REALLY cannot be identified from the video, OK. Otherwise, it's a complete NoNo.

May 23, 2020 at 04:19 PM · As a private teacher for many years, I do submit videos of my students online, but there are conditions in which I do it.

First, it states in my policies that I may post videos online on our website and youtube page. These videos are usually only recital performances (I post each student's best piece) and when a child earns Student of the Month. I only ever post the student's first name and age when posting a video.

If there is any other instance where I would want to post a child's playing online for feedback, I would first ask for both the child and parent's permission and it still would not include the child's name or video of their face, whenever possible. However, I've never done it in that capacity. If I were to ask for feedback on a child's playing, I would only ask other colleagues privately.

Finally, I offer an opt-out form for any family that does not wish to have any likenesses of their child online.

Once a child is no longer my student, any videos of them is removed from our youtube/our website. I do retain copies of all of my previous students performances privately in a password-protected external drive. Once in a great while, I will ask a family if I can share a student's video to help promote my teaching, but it's only been once or twice and only in a private capacity.

May 23, 2020 at 04:36 PM · In this state, you must get permission. Maybe if you have a private youtube channel you can get away with it, but I'd still get written permission.

May 24, 2020 at 12:30 AM · What George Wells writes makes a lot of sense. The problem is that if you ONLY get the permission of the child and not the parents, then you can get sued because the child doesn't have legal standing to give you permission to use his or her own image. That image is the property of his or her parents.

May 24, 2020 at 02:35 AM · Never. Never. Never.

May 25, 2020 at 09:19 AM · I think any unnecessary public exposition of children must be avoided. Even if the parents give permission, I still think it's not a good idea. And even if the child likes the idea, or wants it, it doesn't mean it's good for him or that he fully understands what implications could derive from being exposed on the internet.

I know that the intention of the teacher who would publish such a video is far from wanting to harm the child. But once video (or a picture) is published, we have no full control over it. And that's dangerous.

What if the child makes a funny gesture in the video and an immature person who genuinely watches the video searching for something violin-related decides to take a picture and make a meme out of it? In very few days, lots of other immature people would start making fun of him and his picture would be in every single internet forum.

Fortunately, it's not the most frequent thing, but I wouldn't run that risk. I put that example not to speak of other unpleasant and more dangerous risks that I don't even want to think about...

May 25, 2020 at 03:35 PM · A few years ago, I saw a video on You Tube of a young boy's solo violin recital that someone (a parent, classmate, teacher, I don't know) had posted. The kid played horribly, looked miserable and obviously did not want to be on stage. The comments under the video were heartbreaking as people criticized and made fun of his playing. To this day my heart breaks for this poor kid. I wouldn't be surprized if he never picked up an instrument again.

May 25, 2020 at 05:41 PM · I cannot recall the name of a young violinist who was being touted as the next great child prodigy (she wasn't--she was good, but not *that* good) by her father, who posted cringe-y videos (think Toddlers & Tiaras meets Czardas) of her playing on YT and deleted any comment that wasn't fawning admiration. The last thing I saw about her, she was headed to Juilliard Prep to study. I remember thinking as I saw those videos that whether she ended up as a professional or not, they were going to become an embarrassment to her sooner or later, and probably sooner.

Editing to add: I remembered her name, which in the interest of not further embarrassing the soon-to-be 18-year-old, I am not going to post. The youtube videos from ten plus years ago are still up but the webpage her parents set up has been taken down. There is no mention of any public performance later than 2015. I hope she is finding her own direction in life, whatever that may be, and I wish her parents would remove her childhood videos from youtube.

May 26, 2020 at 07:09 AM · think Toddlers & Tiaras meets Czardas...

Ouch. What an abomination.

Mary Ellen’s post has reminded me of tennis: I know many young kids who play (good) tennis whose parents treat them as if they already were the next Rafa Nadal, Federer or Djokovic, posting videos online and making them train way more than what is reasonable. These children have no tolerance to frustration, most of the time don’t want to be at the court, and will probably end up injured and hating both the sport and their parents.

May 28, 2020 at 03:33 AM · Especially with girls and young women, it's quite possible for someone engaging in an athletic activity or playing the violin to become the darling of the internet for quite different reasons than the child or parent was hoping. Miguel mentioned tennis, and a great many of the so-called "women's athetics" videos on YouTube are intended for an audience that is not really interested in sports at all. So I agree with Miguel that a very conservative approach is called for.

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