Music Room Ramblings

Thursday, July 27, 2017

To Teach Recorders or Not? That is the question!

But never a question for me! Even though it was not optional, I loved teaching recorder. In our district, actually in the state of Tennessee, recorder is a required part of the elementary music curriculum beginning in 3rd grade.

Teaching Music Reading Skills Method Book


I always began recorder in 3rd grade around October after review and being sure new students were caught up. Because of the sequential curriculum (Teaching Music Reading Skills), my students were introduced to the names of the treble clef lines and spaces at the end of 2nd grade. So they were ready and excited to begin their first instrument in 3rd grade. A video of one of my introductory class to 3rd graders is included in the eBook.

 Lesson Planning

My First Recorder Book, Teacher Guide
In my once a week, one-hour class, I used 20 minutes for the first 4-6 weeks to introduce and reinforce with the 3rd graders. After that, 10-15 minutes were sufficient. By the end of 3rd grade, students were reading and playing 5 notes—BAG-CD— very solidly.

I based My First Recorder Book, Student Book and Teacher's Guide, on my method of teaching recorder. The teacher's guide gives permission to the buyer to make copies of the songs so students can compile their own repertoire. The student book is an eBook and available as a PDF download from Teachers Pay Teachers as well as Amazon Kindle. Students are allowed to download to 3 devices—desktop, tablet, and phone. No more books to remember to take home and bring back!! Use the song pages on the screen in class.

Assessing—How to assess without sacrificing instructional time?

Because I did a lot of small-group, composing and creating activities, I was able to listen to individuals play while others were working on projects without sacrificing instructional time. Sightreading and Vocabulary pages are included in these books.


I used cords as an incentive LONG before Recorder Karate came out. Remember, I've been around for over 30 years! Students respond well to those types of challenges. Recorder Karate and many other plans are great! Mine worked for me and my students responded so well, I never felt the need to change. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

Songs were assigned point value and students knew how many points it took to earn a cord, just 2 per year for my plan. I purchased cording (4 different colors) by the yard at a fabric store, cut it into approximately 24"-28" lengths, made a loop on one end to attach around the recorder's mouthpiece and then a knot on the other end. At the end of each 9-week grading period, I made a HUGE deal of awarding the students their cords. They wore them around their necks as a badge of honor! LOL I did this for many years and never had any problems.

Patriotic Song Bundle, Levels 2-3 

Advanced Recorders

By 4th grade, I was able to do lots of fun and challenging things with the recorders. Students were reading well and playing well by Christmas, for sure. Peer tutoring works well when you've done all you can do. Some students will listen to their peers more readily than me and I would give extra points to the tutors if their "pupil" could successfully play a song.

A great, all-school program can be built around these patriotic songs. Wonderful soundtracks, composed specifically for recorder, narration, and solid, standards-based lesson plans to incorporate into your curriculum. There are even suggestions for including your beginning recorder students on some of the songs. If you have a good, sequential plan, your 4th graders can easily play most of these songs by spring. And this is a fantastic way to showcase the music education that you are providing at your school.


The key to successfully teaching any skill is consistency and enthusiasm! I loved teaching recorder and the middle school band directors were thrilled to get my students.

So I evidently was doing something right. (BTW, I'm retired now and a Side-by-Side coach in our district.)

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