Recorder Karate Idea Bank

Introducing Alto Recorder

Submitted by Cak

Idea posted 2005-09-09

My favorite way to start alto recorder is to have the class play "Hot Cross Buns" on soprano. Next, I have them play "Hot Cross Buns" on the alto. Then I ask the questions: Were they alike? Which was higher? Were they the same only higher and lower? Then I have them play both versions of the songs together, which of course, they think is "really cool" sounding.

Back in third grade, they had learned little pneumonics to help learn different notes. One was for F# - "Fido" was a "sharp" dog! The only way to play "Fido" was to have the right hand middle fingers down and the pointer and pinkie finger up, thus creating doggie ears and Fido's nose. Playing any other way would deform the dog!

Now with the alto recorder, "Fido" has a good buddy. He's a dog named "BINGO!" So, you see, "B" on an alto recorder is just like "F#" on the soprano recorder. Do you think you can play "Hot Cross Buns" beginning with "BINGO?" Most were able to do this immediately.

From here, we went to SSA arrangements of songs I'd either arranged or composed. The secret to successful writing with beginning alto students is to keep the alto part really easy. The "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" arrangement which I have used with beginning SSA students in fourth grade is in G Major, and I wrote it in 2/4. The alto line: Half note G' _ G' _ D D low G _.

For those of you who do not know alto fingering, the high G is just like the high D on a soprano recorder, D is the same as soprano A, and low G is the same as low D on soprano.

It might have been even easier to take the G back up on measures 4 and 8.

My middle line was for a soprano recorder and is the same rhythm as the melody:

G G F# low D
F# F# a G F# G
G   G G
F# E low D F#
G _

If the low G is impossible, have the altos take it up to the high G, but do realize that you will have a parallel octave in the last measure with the second part and the alto line going from low D to G. (Anyone who has had Orff levels shudders at the thought of a parallel octave ANYWHERE!)

Simple little three-part recorder piece! Kids thought they had made the symphony, and parents thought they were ready for Carnegie Hall! The principal beamed from ear to ear. Kids were so psyched with pride of their product!

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