Issue 23: Winning the Battle with Beginner Recorders

And the battle is “you CAN read the music without writing the letters in”.

I am bound and determined that my beginner recorder classes WILL read the dots on the stave, but sometimes it seems little a battle. Or pushing water uphill. Or snail racing. Or groundhog day.

It infuriates me when the children come back after their first recorder lesson, when the only note we have learned to play is “B”, and proudly show me how they (or their parents) have written “B” under every note. sigh.

The next week, all the books come back with note notes labelled “B” or “A”.  Aaaaaargh!  How hard can it be to distinguish between a “B” and an “A”?

(I think that one of the most tiring things about being a teacher is excercising patience and diplomacy).

I usually get round this by putting up different music from my own secret sources on the whiteboard and teaching from that, using just a few minutes of the lesson time to go through the current piece “in the book”. The children all have “Recorder from the beginning” book 1, so, for my forays into the unknown, I put up “Recorder Magic Interactive” and then choose the option that removes the letter notation and the animated recorder. (So cruel – the children all go “aww” as I click on the buttons and the letters disappear.)

Last week, in each beginner class, there happened to be chldren whose names begin with B, A and G, so I hauled them out to the front, and allocated the notes on the whiteboard to these children.

“Whose note is this?” “Antonia!”

“Whose note is this?” “George!”

“And this one?” “Ben”

It worked last week, and we fought and won the battle with “Gypsy Dance” in the end. “George-George Ben-Ben Antonia-Antonia Ben, Ben, George-George, Antonia, Antonia”. I shall find out how long this little victory has lasted when we move on to the next tune.

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