Recorder Update

I started recorders with my students a couple of months ago and we are now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Most of my classes have two or three songs left to finish the recorder karate curriculum. The students have surprised me with their willingness to learn and grow musically these past couple months thanks to the recorders. We have analyzed the sheet music and played each song in the curriculum with poise. Some of the songs in the curriculum include, “Amazing Grace, “When the Saints Go Marching In,” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” Of course, it wouldn’t be a complete unit unless I put my own twist on the program…

This is the chart i have in my classroom outlining student progress.
This is the chart i have in my classroom outlining student progress.

While at Pepperdine, I studied the methodology of teaching Elementary Music. In class, we discussed student-friendly methods to effectively create a musical classroom. One of the assignments I was given was to develop and teach a recorder lesson for elementary students. My professor provided us with song suggestions, but I wanted to do a different song. I went to my professor and asked if I could use the Star Wars theme instead of one of the other songs she provided. She eagerly said yes!  From there, we spent an hour in her office creating the sheet music and rhythmic patterns that would be used for the lesson. It was a blast! When I first taught the lesson, back before I had any teaching experience, it flopped; however, I saved the lesson, knowing that the content and idea were good. Today, my 6th graders completed my Star Wars lesson, and it was a success. I have been  impressed with their progress, but I was particularly happy to see how quickly they picked up this song. They were determined to finish strong and go out with a bang!

When my students receive new music, their task is to write the names of each note, circle new symbols in the music, and sight read it once on their own. We have been developing this

One of my students sight reading the Star Wars sheet music
One of my students sight reading the Star Wars sheet music

routine and skill since the beginning of the recorder unit. Once they finish a trial run of the song on their own, I scaffold new music theory rules that are relevant to each song in a group setting. I ask the students to draw each symbol that they circled on their music on the board. From there, we slowly go through each new concept and define it. After the group discussion, we play the music together one measure at a time. Usually the playing portion will take a couple of class periods to complete and perfect. Today, my 6th grade students completed this whole routine in one day.

I am proud of the growth of all of my classes, but today I am especially proud of my 6th grade students. Below is a video of three students playing the song. I hope you enjoy! I think this video captures their personalities perfectly.

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