Teaching the recorder can be a very rewarding experience. It can also be a very stressful one. What helps, besides experience, is planning. The best thing you can do before entering the music classroom is to have a clear plan of what you want your students to learn.
Simply having a recorder curriculum is not enough. You will need a lesson plan template to keep your students moving forward, even more so when they are beginning recorder music students.
When I first started teaching, in 2001, (hard to admit that one!), it wasn’t easy to find inspiration. As a music specialist, it was also quite lonely. Most of what I had learned at University, did not always apply in the real classroom environment, especially with a group of Grade 7 boys. My most valuable lessons came from trial and error. And unfortunately, it seemed some days – more lessons in what not to do!
I found out the hard way, that as soon as you put an instrument in a child’s hand, that you lose them very quickly. All their attention will be on that instrument and not on you and your instructions.
It became very clear to me, early on, that planning a solid lesson meant nothing if you couldn’t back it up with great classroom management. This post is more about what to put in a great lesson, and have it all planned out, so hopefully, your students will be engaged and ready to follow direction, for everyone to have a great time. I have a FREEBIE for you to download – click here to grab yours.
Most of you, I’m sure would have used the following lesson sequence. The main reason is – it works!
Beginning– introduce what the learning will be
Middle – teaching content phase
End – wrapping the lesson up, pack up, foreshadow the next lesson
Now, there is nothing wrong with this learning sequence. It works and has done, for a very long time. But what if you had a different lesson model to use? One that works on a different level? One that ensures success for both you and your students? Have you tried the Define, Plan, Do, Review model?
If you would like more information, click this link. (Since writing this post, the links have changed as the website has changed- not happy, it used to be easy to access the information). There is stacks of information there to help. But, as with most education models, most of the information is not “music” specific. That’s where I hope this blog post helps. Remember to grab your FREE planning resource here.
In this part of the lesson, you DEFINE what the learning will be. You let your class know what will happen. It is here that you might demonstrate parts of the lesson, techniques they will learn, skills they will learn or even what “theory” they need to know for the lesson to be successful.
In this part of the lesson, it is much easier if you show the class what they will be doing BEFORE you let them on an instrument! I can guarantee that otherwise you will lose them.
For teaching the recorder, you might show them the music they will be learning. Discuss the music, look for anything they don’t understand. It may be that introduce a new concept/note/symbol/song or whatever you need them to focus on.
This part of the lesson is where you let your students have their instrument. It is where you break the music down and “chunk” it for them. It is time to give lots of step by step instruction.
Depending on the class, this could take the whole lesson, or just a few minutes!
By this stage of the learning, your class should be familiar enough with the music so that you are rehearsing the whole song. This can be a time where the class/students are working independently or in small groups on the music.
This part of the lesson is where you can informally (or formally if your prefer) assess the learning through questioning. This could be a whole class activity, or try something different, and what most students are more comfortable with, by talking and responding to the question with the person sitting next to them.
This check for understanding could be in the form of “exit tickets” or even “bell ringers”. (Click here to grab your copy of the 150 Bell Ringers in my store.)
Some suggested evaluation questions could be:
- What skill have you learned today?
- What did you find hard in the lesson?
- What did you find easy in the lesson?
- What was your favorite part of the lesson?
- What do you know now, that you didn’t at the beginning of the lesson?
- Explain to the person beside you what you think did the best in the lesson.
Another way to think about planning the lesson structure using the Define, Plan, Do, Review model is this:
- Listen to the song
- Sing the Lyrics to “la”
- Clap the rhythms as you sing or say the notes
- Hold the recorder and practice each note as you sing or say the note
- Play the song
- Questions and evaluation about the lesson content or skills they have learned.
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Until next time
Julia from Jooya