Length of Recorder Teaching
Submitted by Gretchen, Illinois
Idea posted 2003-01-13
As far as how much and how long to make recorder study, all I can say is that I've made it an integral part of my music curriculum beginning with 5ths in February and continuing thru 8th grade all year long. I only see kids 2 times per week, but my middlers have recorder class every week for one of their classes. I realize there is so much to expose and teach the kids in music, but I have personally found that learning to read music, even minimally, is a valuable skill I want to give all my students. The recorder is the perfect vehicle for doing just this. Not only do they learn to read note names, but rhythm values and patterns, basic compositional principles, expression, etc.
In my classes, I stretch the Recorder Karate program out a bit more than most. For example, most of my 8ths who started recorder in 6th grade, have just now earned their black belts. I want the kids to show proficiency with each note or playing skill, so I make the testing a bit tougher.
Then, once a new belt has been reached, I pull in a lot more repertoire at that same belt level to give the kids as much practice as possible on their new reading/playing skills. We don't learn one song for a test and then immediately move on to the next test song. We cover a lot of repertoire (Music K-8 included). I also make testing a required part of their overall music grade. Last year I didn't do this, and several kids did not apply themselves as well. So, this year I made it a grading requirement (and the level of motivation rose).
Along with basic playing of the instrument, I also use these weekly recorder sessions to drill notation, work on ear training with aural & notational dictation drills, introduce and utilize basic compositional techniques (e.g., repetition, imitation, sequence, inversion, retrograde, etc.), and SQUILT lessons using classical selections that include recorders (e.g., Bach, Handel, etc.). I cram a lot into these sessions to say the least.
When I first started teaching at this job, it seemed useless to just teach them the note names on the staff without an instrument to which they could directly apply them. The recorder has now given them all an instrument, and when they graduate from my school, they will all have at least a foundation in music reading and playing upon which some may choose to build.