Everyone has their favourite recorder resources. These are the ones that I have used most over the last four years in large groups (up to twenty year 3, 4 or 5 children), Wider Opportunities classes and mixed recorder ensembles.
David Moses Recorder Boppers
At £29.50, this may seem like a big initial payment, but what you get is a book of photocopiable music sheets and backing tracks for 16 unison pieces. These will take you from the very first lesson to notes cBAGE. The tunes are very catchy and easy to learn by ear. The best thing is the clever accompaniments; every piece has a totally different character, and even when the children are only playing A and C – as in “LonelyMountain”, for example – the accompaniment turns these simple notes into an attractive performance. The tracks are all at the performance tempo and there are times when a slower practise tempo would be helpful.
I have used the series for four years now for descant recorders. The cBAG pieces are also good for introducing the right hand notes for C clarinet and treble recorder classes.
Recorder Magic Interactive
Having watched a colleague using “Recorder Magic Interactive” for a while, I went out and bought a copy for myself. You can find it for around £35 and upwards online. It is another David Moses production, this time with Jane Sebba, and has been cleverly designed for use on interactive whiteboards.
The material starts from the very first lesson and covers the range cBAGE. There are lots of ideas for games and ensemble parts, and you can select a slower tempo on the backing tracks.
The children will need to have a copy of the tutor book in order to practice the pieces. Where it is not possible to ensure that all the children have their own “Recorder Magic” tutor book, (for example in Wider Opportunities classes, I still use “Recorder Magic Interactive” for whole class activities, ensemble playing, and extra material. I find it is very useful to have plenty of extra music to use in lessons so that I can stay at the same level while maintaining class interest and adding variety.
The website has additional material which you can use as well.
John Pitts – Recorder from the Beginning
The current edition is colourful, and has some neat ideas for incorporating other percussion and class activities. The backing tracks go at full speed with no option for a practise tempo, but if you have a piano or keyboard you can use the piano accompaniment book to play at whatever tempo suits your group.
The book starts with B and covers the notes cBAGED. There are a number of well-known tunes, such as “Hot Cross Buns”, “Old MacDonald” and “There’s a Hole in my Bucket” in the book as well as specially written material.
Sarah Watts – Red Hot Recorder Tutor
This has some really great starter pieces and I love the jazzy style. It is more suited to older (year 4, 5 and 6) beginners in my view as the print size and the layout across two columns make it difficult younger children.
Certain pieces are just genius; “EGBG, got the eebie-jeebies” is piece that is continually requested by the children. Another bonus is that there are lots of duet opportunities, some with more challenging parts so that players at different stages can play together.
Most of the tracks have a practice and a performance tempo, and there are rhythm exercises with backing tracks scattered throughout.
The scope of the book also makes it suitable for older beginners; by the time you have played all the pieces you will have covered D to d including F natural, F sharp and c sharp.
Recorder Magic – Romantic Stars, Christmas Stars, Classical Stars
Here is Jane Sebba again, this time with Missak Takoushian. This is another AC Black publication, and again a bit of an investment at £25. but I reckon you get your money’s worth. Each book has around 10 arrangements for recorder ensemble, with performance, practice and backing tracks. The great thing here is that you can print off differentiated parts for descant, treble/sopranino, tenor and bass recorder, bass line parts and there is a piano accompaniment. I have been using the Romantic and Christmas books for several years with primary school recorder ensembles. The arrangements are great – especially the Christmas Carols.