The Recorder Briefcase!
At my school students buy their own recorders and are encouraged to take them home to practice and play. That means that after music they have to take their recorders back to their classroom and put them in their backpacks to take them home. The question arose: How can we get the recorders to and from the music room without causing a huge problem and hassle for their classroom teacher and for me?
My schedule is filled with back-to-back classes where I’ll see one 5th grade homeroom for 30 minutes followed by a different 5th grade homeroom for the next 30. I switch classes with the P.E. teacher after a half hour. My first group of 5th graders go straight to P.E. before going back to their classroom and I take the homeroom that the P.E. teacher had before they go back to their normal classroom.
Many kiddos have to take their recorders to P.E. before coming to music. What were they supposed to do with their recorders while they’re running around the gym? I didn’t want to create a hassle of logistics for my P.E. teacher and I didn’t want kids fiddling around with recorders in the hallway either. I thought about using a bag or bundle or something so that one kid was in charge of the recorders. Then fate brought me the recorder briefcase.
DIY Recorder Briefcase – Recycled Materials
Our school just purchased a class set of HP laptops for a laptop cart and of course each one came packed in its own cardboard box complete with handle. They really do look like tiny briefcases and they’re just the right size for kids to manipulate and carry. The size is absolutely perfect for soprano recorders to fit inside and there’s just enough room for 25-30 recorders. The assessment manager at my school sent out an email saying that the leftover boxes were available and I jumped on them.
At my school we use Recorder Karate and kids are familiar with the materials and images so I printed off some recorder karate graphics, laminated big pieces of construction paper, printed our the names of the homeroom teachers, and fixed them to the outside of the computer boxes! Now we have a way to get recorders to and from classrooms without causing problems.
Recorder Briefcase – How it works
I love the recorder briefcase because it makes transitions so much simpler. When students get to their homeroom in the morning their recorder goes from backpack to recorder briefcase right away. That way the kids are not messing with recorders during the day and no instruments are accidentally left in backpacks or desks.
When they transition from their homeroom to specials classes a chosen student closes up the briefcase and takes it with them to music or P.E. class. This means only one student has to hold anything in the hallway. The idea of 27 kids walking through the hallway with recorders in their hands makes me nervous… too many opportunities to be ornery.
Once students are in the music room the briefcase goes to the designated spot and I call the students up in groups to get their recorder as we do bell work (bell work for me is usually a familiar song to play air recorder, practice quietly, or sight read while kids go to get recorders). After class is over everything goes back in the briefcase, it is closed up, and that one chosen student takes it back to their homeroom. Students can leave the music room and go off to the gym or lunchroom or even to a bathroom break and I don’t have to worry about their recorders being played in the hallway or getting lost/stolen/broken/germy/etc.
Years of Use – Still Going Strong
The recorder briefcase was a sort of a magical solution to a logistical problem that I had been dreading. I’ve used these briefcases for three years now and I just have to give them a little TLC at the beginning and end of a recorder unit to keep them up. My ONLY problem is that I have 11 working briefcases and my administrators are talking about adding another section to the upper grades next year… meaning that I’ll need 12 briefcases! Guess I’ll have to worry about that hurdle when I come to it.
If you wanted to do something similar you could find similar boxes, buy fabric tote bags, sew your own bags, or even just use plastic storage tubs. Whatever you end up using, I’d suggest you choose something that’s quick and easy to pick up and take with you and also something that has a lid/opening that’s simple to open and close.
Have thoughts about the recorder briefcase or suggestions on how to make it better? If you’ve made something similar I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below to share your ideas so that everyone who reads this blog post can join in the discussion.