Belt Testing Criteria
Submitted by Monica Autry & Jennifer Schroeder, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina and Fall River, Wisconsin
Idea posted 2004-08-10
I see my classes once a week for 45 minutes. I teach kindergarten through fourth grades and do recorders with fourth graders. This past year, I taught a few BAG songs to third graders during the last reporting period. Recorder Karate is a very flexible program, and teachers on the list use it many different ways. I have a completely different approach from many teachers. I use Recorder Karate throughout the school year, and a class as a whole gets a belt when everyone can play it reasonably well. I don't take up class time with a lot of testing and only spend about 15 minutes on recorders. We then have plenty of time to do other things. This approach has really worked for me. My fourth graders gave a Recorder Karate concert the last month of school and played ALL the belt songs very well. (I teach at a school on a military base, and the population is VERY transient.) I simply use Recorder Karate as my recorder curriculum. I do encourage students to practice at home.
I make a Recorder Karate folder for each child and write the web address for the Recorder Karate Dojo. I do listen to children in groups of four when we have center time (usually once a month) so there is some individual accountability. - Monica Autry; Ft. Bragg, North Carolina
A few things I do to keep the testing time down to a minimum:1) You may only test if you are definitely, absolutely, positively ready for a particular song. Please don't come to test if you don't really know it. You may ask me a question about the song or ask for help, but you may only test when you are ready.
2) If you don't pass this time, you may not go practice in the main music room (we test in my office) for a minute or two and get back in line. You will need to practice for a few DAYS and then come try again.
3) Have a certain rotation, such as alphabetically. Or have them sign up on a list, and tell the class that you can only do X number of students in one class period. Then next test time, start with whomever is next on the list.
4) Tell them they'll only be allowed to play through the song a certain the "please can't I try one more time?" kids.
5) Don't be afraid to tell them they need to go practice some more. They know when it isn't good enough. I think I've only had maybe two kids in tears in the two years I've done Recorder Karate, and each of them were comforted and cared for by myself and other students. They each came back the very next time and played those songs perfectly while agreeing that the previous time was just not good.
6) I allow them to test for more than one song at a time, but again only if they were really, truly ready for each song. This helps the "fast" kids get through everything without being bored. They can usually come in and play two to three songs at a time. This way, they're out of the rotation for a while and can still feel challenged and happy. - Jennifer Schroeder; Fall River, Wisconsin