Recorder Karate Idea Bank

Band Karate - Color Challenge Levels

Submitted by Donna Metler, Memphis, Tennessee

Idea posted 2002-07-17

I teach both general music and beginning band, and I decided to adapt Recorder Karate to my band classes. My students have name badges (the red/white and blue ones sold by Oriental Trading Co.), which have their name and instrument on the center stripe, and I use the blue and red sections to create a ring of color to show "Color Challenge levels" (since I use RK with my 4th grade recorder students, I needed a different name).

For each level, the students get a sticker of the appropriate color on the outside of their badge. I use Sandylion stickers - they have a set with different colored music notes - for the first level, and bronze, silver, and gold stars for the last three. The first seven go around the bottom of the badge, below the student's name, and the last three go on the top. Students must make it to level seven in order to move from the beginner's class to the full band class. Students who have made it to level gold receive a gold ribbon (laminated gold wrapping paper with music notes stamped on it) to wear below their badge. Students wear their badges as part of the performance uniform, and for rehearsals, as well (which is helpful, especially at the beginning of the year). They also get a certificate and their names on the "Wall of Fame" under the color. Students who reach red get promoted to the band class, with a little ceremony and an announcement on the school morning announcements.

My test pieces come from the online level I method books available from, which means they can be freely copied for your students. You can also use any pieces from your method books, but I like using things outside the method books. Students can play for me in their sectional rehearsal or set a time on a chart outside my door for the 15 minutes after rehearsals.

My Levels (winds and mallet percussion):
Pink - Mary's Song (#7, p 4)
Yellow - Ode To Joy (#27, p 7)
Orange - Up On The Housetop (#40, p 10)
Green - Red River Valley (#53, p 13)
Purple - Simple Gifts (#58, p 14)
Blue - Kumbaya (Duet) (#72, p 17)
Red - Blow The Man Down (#81, p 19)
Bronze - Do Lord (#86, p 20)
Silver - Bridal Chorus (#85, p 21)
Gold - solo of the student's choice, played on school program or for the class.

This really helps keep excitement up during the early stages of learning an instrument, and encourages the kids to fly through the first method book.

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