Recorder Tricks and Tidbits #1
So, my first year teaching I hated teaching recorder. It was so much work and so much logistical planning and so much stress. It took some time, research, and planning to make it fun. Now I really like playing and teaching recorder. Here are some little tips I’ve picked up along the way to make recorder teaching more fun. Big thanks to all the people who helped me get this far and taught me all of the tricks that make teaching recorder bearable! I owe you all so much!
This was a delightful little trick that I learned from Greg Gooden at my Orff Level I training last summer. We used the hole reinforcers pre-recorder to get kids used to the idea of the finger placement and and the three big notes, B, A, and G. This means that kids get the idea and practice of those notes without the squeaking and squawking of actually blowing into the recorder. I tried it out this year and it was beautiful idea! The kids really did get excited, enjoyed it, loved the feel of the hole enforcers on their arm. I’m sure (read: I think) they carried over the knowledge of those notes on their arm to playing on the recorder later.
And hey, if you have students who forget to bring their recorder or you have an awkward 3 minutes to wait and can’t get the recorders out, well, everyone has an arm recorder (even if you don’t use the hole reinforcers)! If you’ve done this trick once all you have to do is make your hand into a fist, put it under your chin and viola, you’ve got an arm recorder. Everyone can play!!
I have also started using hole reinforcers for the backs of our recorders! This gives kids a really permanent place to put their thumb (the non-hole-covering thumb) of their right hand so that it’s always in the same place and giving them stable support. I see kids cradling the bell of the recorder or wrapping their right hand around the recorder too often! This has helped with correct hand procedure SOOOOO MUCH!!!
Left Hand Bands
I LOVED the idea that Amy shared on her blog “Treble in the Classroom” about using “Left-Hand Bands.” She suggested that you buy little bracelets (she uses the flowery lei band in this picture) to have students wear to remind them to always put their left hand on top when playing the recorder. My kids forget which hand goes on top so often than I needed something to reinforce using the correct hand positions. This was a quick and easy trick and I love how fun and fast it is with correcting behavior. Click the picture or THIS LINK to see what Amy wrote on her blog entry about this!
I’ve totally stolen the idea but modified it just a tad. I liked the left hand band but I was afraid that the kids would like those lei bands so much (or slap bracelets… I know a couple other people who have suggested those) that they would want to take them out of class. So, I headed over to Hobby Lobby and got a ton of colorful, nylon, weaving bands to use for the left hand band. They’re perfect! They fit all arms and the kids generally don’t want to walk off with them (and if they do, it’s only one of about 400 in the pack so I don’t really care… seriously, these things are sold by weight!).
The Homework Box
This idea came from a pin on my Teaching — Recorder Pinboard (and the link only takes me to a picture not a blog so I don’t know who to credit for this awesome idea!) that you can find HERE. I needed something to organize my recorder homework music and still make it easy for kids to use/find and easy for me to organize/fill up.
And the homework box was born! It’s literally just one of those plastic preform crates that I’ve woven bulletin board border into. To keep it sturdy I packing taped each of the hanging folders together inside the box and taped a lot of stuff down. Kids in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade use it (and not always so gently) and I’ve had NO problems with it ripping, breaking, or having issues. Kids find music quickly because of the colored paper that I stuck in each folder (probably more useful than the tabs) and it’s easy to haul around and refill when needed.