Reply To: First year recorder program- where to start?
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I teach recorders in 3rd grade as a precursor to band instruments in 4th grade. I tried a new approach this year and have loved it so far. Usually the recorder unit starts in January and they learn a song for the spring concert. This year I started in October (but maybe 3 or 4 times a month only) and got all the annoying basics out of the way. Rest/playing position, air, fingers, G A B, reading music… The students used my classroom recorders and I taught them notes myself. There is a GREAT recorder practice SMARTBoard lesson by Allison Shapiro called Rockin’ Recorder that has short etudes with background tracks. The kids LOVE it! When we came back in January, I continued the unit the way we always do. The parents send in money to buy a recorder and book (Recorder Express) and the kids were super energized to get playing music! Because they already knew GAB, they can play the first 10 pages in the book, including a lot of songs that are familiar.
Our class meets twice a week and I have the kids bring in their book (with signed practice sheet) and recorder on Wednesday. It stays over night in my room, and then on Thursday after class they take it home again. I’ve never had more than 1 or 2 students forget their instrument on Wednesday (partly because their classroom teacher is AWESOME with writing it in the homework book on Tuesday) but I have some extra recorders in my room. I keep recorders of who forgot what and when because it is part of their second semester grade.
Its not in my curriculum to continue recorders in 4th or 5th grade but I’m thinking of reprising it in 4th grade this year because I’m having a hard time getting them excited about anything else.