Many years ago, in my second year of teaching, I was shocked, and a little horrified that I was to teach the Recorder to my Year 7 and 8 Music classes. I mean, what kid, or parent for that matter, wants to learn the recorder? I know I didn’t want to teach this instrument. The thought of having 30 students, with a noisemaker that could be simply painful to the ears, was not something I wanted to entertain! I mean, come on, the recorder? What was my colleague thinking?
But, that was what we had to teach, and assess, so, I just got on with it. I bravely went where no Music Teacher, in their right mind wants to go, and taught my Year 7 and 8 students how to play the recorder. As my experience grew, managing 30 students with a noisemaker improved. My students soon began to play actual songs, and it started to sound like recognisable melodies!
I soon realised that my students benefited from learning how to play this simple instrument. Even though, every lesson I had to take a box of spare recorders for those students who just “forgot” to bring their own, we made progress. One of the biggest benefits from learning this instrument was that my students learned how to read music. This simple little instrument helped my students to make connections to other instruments, it helped their pitch awareness, it helped them to read rhythms, to read a score, to understand tempos, time signatures, key signatures and articulation. They were actually reading music, and not only reading it, but understanding what was written on the page and how the written music might sound before they even played a single note.
So, let’s fast forward about 12 years. I have to admit that since 2005, I have not taught the recorder to my music classes. In this time, I have focused on teaching the guitar, keyboard, vocals and drums. I don’t regret teaching these instruments, my students have loved learning them, and I have been fortunate enough to see so many of my students go on to be successful musicians because they learned these instruments in Years 7 and 8. But one thing I do regret about teaching these instruments is that my students do not have the ability to “read” music in it’s traditional from.
Most of my students, in Years 9 through to 12, cannot read music on the stave. They have great ability on their chosen instruments, but they don’t “get” how to read music on the stave. Give them guitar TAB, no worries, but ask them to play in the key of … and they look at me like I am speaking a foreign language! If I tell them the chords to use, they seem to get it, but that background knowledge of understanding a simple melody line, has been lost. Most of my students do not learn their instrument in what I would call the traditional way. They do not go to music lessons with a private tutor, they learn via YouTube. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but what I find frustrating about them learning this way, is that the student is learning in a very disconnected way. They only learn a certain piece, and in learning this way they don’t make musical connections between pieces and how they might be the same or different.
So how do you teach the recorder like a boss? Simple, you help your students learn in a step by step method. You start with the basics, and every lesson you build upon the foundations that you set the lesson before. Each lesson you introduce a new musical note, or concept, and your students will then slowly and confidently build their musical knowledge, all while putting what they learn into real practice.
Here in Australia, we are in our last term for the year, and it is about this time of year that I start to plan for next year. This year I had a class of Year 9 and 10 students. Next year, it looks like I will have another mixed class. I know that in the future, I want to change up how I approach this class. So, I am going to be brave and teach my students how to play the recorder! The reason I want to do this is simply because I want them to be able to read music. I want them to understand how to read rhythms, notes on the stave, time signatures, key signatures, tempo markings, and everything else that comes with reading and playing music at the same time. My aim is to have my students choose small groups, create ensembles based on simple little melodies, and then perform them for a younger audience. My goal is for them to perform for the preschoolers that are located within walking distance of our school. The benefits of preparing, collaborating and the performing in front of an audience are immeasurable. That experience cannot be bought or taught, my students will hopefully only gain from the whole experience.
So, how do I plan to teach these students how to play the recorder? Well, I have started writing The Ultimate Recorder Method. To date I have completed Level 1. In this level students are introduced to the recorder, rules for playing, practice methods, breath control and the notes B, A and G.
In this new resource, which is not available for purchase yet, there are so many inclusions. It has a distinctly Australian flavour with each note having an Aussie animal character. In Level 1 you will meet Bob the Bilby, Annie the Ant and George the Wombat. If you want to get yourself a FREE copy of this new resource right now, before it is released, click the link below.
Included in this new resource are:
- Recorder Finger Charts
- Recorder Rules
- Recorder Basics
- Exercises to play
- Familiar songs to play
- 3 different Certificates of Completion
- 2 different Marking Rubrics
- Suggested activities for composition
When the product is released, which I hope will be soon, there will be Backing Tracks for each of the exercises and songs. For each of the songs there will be two different Backing Tracks, one will be a slower version with no repeat, and the second version will be slightly faster tempo with a repeat of the melody.
Are you tempted? Interested? Of course you are! Go on, click the link so you can grab your own FREE copy of The Ultimate Recorder Method, Level 1.
Until next time
Julia from Jooya