Issue 129: Recorders – Bringing the boys on side

The boys in my year 3 recorder class were getting bored… and not paying attention… and getting left behind.

Not any more! I decided to call in Darth Vader.

“Grasp your recorder like a light-sabre, left hand on top or you will shoot yourselves in the feet.” No further explanation or instruction appears to be necessary.

“Activate your light-sabre and set it to maximum by loading in the note ‘D’; top hand, fingers 1-2-3 and bottom hand, fingers 1-2-3”. We have been learning to the note ‘D’ for a couple of weeks, if they had been listening.Capuchin plays the recorder

“Gently, play the note, in order to do battle with Darth Vader. You need a low-frequency beam, like this”. I demonstrate note ‘D’, and, miraculously, most of the class can now play ‘D’.

“Now set your light-sabres to half power but just activating the top three notes (G, for those interested in letter names)”. Thirty children accurately play ‘G’.

I put “Old Mac Donald” up on the whiteboard. 

“This blob” (I point to ‘G’ on the music) is an instruction for half power. “That one” (I point to a ‘D’) means full power. And this one (I point to ‘E’) means just the bottom finger lifted off; one less than full power.

As I point to the notes on the music, the tune of “Old Mac Donald” emerges with increasing confidence from thirty recorders. I’m not giving any hints, clues, note names, just pointing to each note in turn on the whiteboard. When we get to “EIEIO” the first time, I call out “1 1 2 2 3” and somehow, the children effortlessly play ‘B B A A G’.

So then I go on to the next tune, and remind them about ‘D’ – full power, and ‘E’, one less than full power. I point to the blobs, and there is a definite consensus from the class. Effortless note reading! Result!

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