Over these last few weeks, many of us have gone from classroom teachers to online educators and are faced with questions we need answers to now!

One of which is what are the rules around sharing music via Skype/Zoom/YouTube etc? That’s just the question I received this week from a teacher…….

Question: My preschool team has attended your workshop at WAEYC the last couple of years and we love learning new music and movement activities from you! Due to the COVID19 situation we have created a YouTube channel for our students to access. We are providing circle time content, snack demonstrations, story time, and music and movement.

Since you’ve been doing this for awhile I wanted to ask you about the rules regarding using licensed songs in YouTube videos. What are the restrictions? Can we sing the music or play it on an instrument, but NOT play the actual song?

Answer: As far as using licensed songs, I stay away from them especially on a public format such as YouTube. Instead, I stick to public domain songs (if you aren’t sure if a song is public domain, click here to search for the song).

However, during this time, many artists are being extremely generous and allowing online sharing. If there is a specific song you want to share because your kids just love it, reach out to the artist!

I did just that last night as I really want to share Laurie Berkner’s “Fruit Salad Salsa” on this week’s Facebook Live Circle Time Sing-along.

If you can’t get permission to share online, why not create a playlist on YouTube or Spotify for your students to access after the online circle time? Fill the playlists with your class’s favorite songs and encourage families to turn on the music and let their child be the teacher!

Click here for how to make a Spotify playlist. Spotify has a ton of songs and getting an account set up is quick and easy.

Click here for directions on how to create a YouTube playlist you can share.

If you are looking for fair to share content, there are so many great poems and songs out there in the public domain. One of my favorite resources is King County Library’s collection called “Tell Me a Story”. They have tons of songs broken down by topic that are all ok to share. If they aren’t public domain, they do let you know so you feel good about knowing you are legal. There are also video demonstrations so you can see how the activity looks in action.

What about books?

While we are on the topic of what’s legal to share in an online platform, let’s talk about books. Sorry to say it, but same same goes for reading books. I know, YouTube is filled with people reading books so I’m not sure why those haven’t been taken down. The truth is you do need to get permission from the publisher if you want to read the book online.

But, because we are experiencing unprecedented times, many publishers have loosened their rules. Click here to view an ever-growing list as well as their rules around sharing. If you don’t see the publisher of a book that you want to share, contact them! Word is they are responding quickly with their sharing guidelines.

In the end, meeting your students online during these stressful times can be just what all of you need. When they see your face and hear your voice, a sense of comfort is felt.

I hope this information helps you to navigate the online world a bit better.