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    Hi everyone!

    I really want to start a recorder unit with my 4th grade students, but I’ve never done it before. Some questions that come to mind:

    1. My school has about 30 recorders already. Each class has about 28 students…I was thinking of using the ones we already have, but that means the students cannot practice. If I were to buy recorders for the kids, is there a place that has them for a reasonable price?

    2. Is there an actual curriculum called Recorder Karate? I’m lacking materials, so I need a good place to find recorder songs!

    Any input is appreciated! Thanks!!


    HOW EXCITING for you! Recorder in 4th grade is perfect and your students will L-O-V-E it!!!

    A few things, there are some great recorders out there. Peripole sells one that has a “halo” that holds the recorder. Some teachers love this because it is ready to go and the students aren’t setting them down and if they need to play another instrument they can just let go–play the percussion instrument and go back to playing the recorder when they are done without having it roll around on the ground (yuck). You also have Yamaha, LMI, Suzuki, and TONS of other places that sell recorders. The best idea is to call and ask for the school prices (they typically will have a lower price for schools).

    If you have a classroom set, you will find that cleaning them between classes is a PAIN! I have a classroom set that I use for students who don’t wish to purchase their own and/or for those who forget theirs at home. (Although I tell them, when they are done practicing at home…it goes right back in their backpack just like their homework…and they cart it to and fro regardless of if they have music that day). You will need some cleaner, of course, to clean them between use. Some teachers will take the entire set home and put them in the dishwasher on a setting where they won’t break due to the heat–I haven’t done this as it is time consuming. There are teachers who will check the school ones out to students by putting numbers on the recorders and that’s how they keep track of them. You will have to decide what works best for your school and your situation. One teacher had her custodian (very crafty custodian) make 3 classroom stands with pegs on them…numbered all the pegs and each student has a peg that was “theirs.” They would come in and grab their recorder and put it on the peg when they leave thus no cleaning required. Every teacher finds their own creative way of making their unique situation work.

    And yes, there is a Recorder Karate book out there. You can find it through the K-8 Music series I believe. The students perform certain songs and get a “belt” if they pass. This has been used with great success at many schools

    For some schools, purchasing a set of books can get costly and using folk tunes is a viable solution if the folk tunes are not copyright protected (do not assume that all folk tunes are not copyright protected–some are). Some folk tunes provide for great progression through the recorder curriculum (beginning with BAG first and then progressing to E–and there is a pedagogical reason why E is the next best in some minds…and other teachers believe in moving up to C…you have to do some research on the pedagogy and discover what fits with your standards and process).

    There are lots of recorder books out in the publishing world. Some teachers will request a “viewing” copy from publishers and the publishers may send one out to you with the hope that you will order a classroom set. Remember copyright though–if you decide to go with one of the books make sure to purchase an appropriate set if you intend to use the material with your students. Other publishers will put a page or two on their website for you to view without purchasing so you can see if you might like it–similar to Amazon or iBooks where they let you view a chapter before purchasing the whole book. There are some great composers out there like Don Muro, M.C. Handel and the like who have written some creative recorder music to get the kids “into” playing. You just have to start building up your library.

    Regardless of what you decide to go with, if you have the opportunity to attend a recorder inservice that is put on in your area or in the nation, I highly recommend it. Some of the best material I have received for recorder instruction has been through inservice classes–nothing like being a student in a classroom setting and learning how to instruct such a unique instrument.

    I hope some of this information you find helpful and it gets you started on the right path. Let me know if you have any more questions.


    Bridget James
    Western Division Representative
    National Council for General Music Education (NCGME)
    National Association for Music Education (NAfME)


    I agree, with the books. I would start now looking at the books and try receive trial copies to figure out which book you will be use it. Some books you have to buy each child an individual copy, whereas other books such as recorder karate and the complete recorder method give you copy permissions for your school. These books are more expensive for one copy, but you only have to buy one and you can make as many copies as you want. one consideration is coming copies you are allowed to run with your schools is a consideration with these.

    As for your recorders, I have built up a school set of roughly 100 recorders over the course of several years. I have my students that are able to purchase one from local vendors or online. At the end of the year, I have the students that are just planning on throwing them away and leave me the recorders. If they have siblings or they want to continue play recorder I encourage them to keep them. As for my class sets I actually washed them in the school dishwasher. I spoke with my cafeteria manager and she agreed to wash them for me. However, we did a test with just one recorder at the beginning to make sure that it created no problems. And it did not. So I am now able to get my recorders washed in under three minutes.


    I’ve taught recorder for years to 3rd and 4th graders, and I love it, but there was a learning curve! I have every child purchase a recorder of their own through the school; I send home a parent letter and order form. I see having their own recorder as an opportunity for kids to learn responsibility. If they can’t afford it, our PTA covers the cost. I’ve been using the MPI Antiqua from Groth Music which has a good sound and comes with a great zipper case.

    I tell the students they must keep them in their backpacks all the time so they will be available both for practicing at home and for music class at school. When they’re done practicing, the recorder should go right back in the backpack. This works well. Most students do bring recorders every week, and practicing does happen! I do not wash recorders; if a child forgets their recorder, they use a practice recorder: this is a recorder with the mouthpiece removed, so they just practice fingerings. Not so much fun, but they participate, and it’s effective for one class. If someone really can’t keep track of a recorder, I’ll give them a school recorder and keep it in the music room. I also have a special letter I send home to parents if someone forgets 2 or more times. I always order extra recorders with PTA money in case one is lost, or we get a new student.

    I don’t have them get books, I just copy songs from the Recorder Karate book, or print out folk songs using Sibelious.


    Awesome! Teaching recorders to 4th graders is the best. If you have iPad technology, I would suggest “Go for the Gold” recorder method. You can find it in the itunes bookstore. Students love this competition method and it’s completely interactive. (The songs accompany the students with one touch, and you can put your finger on any note to see the fingering!” My students have had so much fun working with this system, and have expressed that it’s more exciting than Recorder Karate. The iPad also makes it super easy for you as the teacher.

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