Issue 147: A Recorder lesson, but with NO recorders

I was half expecting this to happen; first lesson with a new year 2 class, and the recorders weren’t ready. They were going to re-use the recorders from last term’s lessons, but what with one thing (Christmas Nativity Shows) and another (Christmas Carol Concert) and the total exhaustion that accompanies the end of term, the recorders had been shoved in a box and abandoned.

I am really pernickety about sharing recorders and disinfecting them if they are to be reallocated. I like to do them in baby-bottle sterilizing solution –  plastic recorders, obviously – if it is good enough for a new-born baby, it must be ok for a child. Think vomiting. Diarrhoea, Cold Sores. Mouth Ulcers. Ugh.

Anyway, back to this class – what to do?


Chat about what a recorder looks like, play it to them, let them all have a look (‘but DON’T put it in your mouth – you don’t want to catch my nasty cough, do you?’ a sea of horrified faces and solemn shaking of heads.)

We did a nice listen and copy chant called ‘Boom Chicka Boom’

and then I taught them the little so mi song ‘Star light, star bright’.Star Light


I drew a horizontal line on the board and wrote it out like this:

star              star               first               see to            .     

.          light             bright              star  I               night


and showed how the position – high/low – of the words matched the pitch in the song. We sang it through a few times, following the pitch movement with our hands, and then I started switching positions for some of the words;


star              star    bright     first               see to  night          .     

.          light                                     star  I

making a new tune. We sang this, and other versions, and then changed the words, using suggestions from the children, and asking them which words should be high and which low.

I              pizza              lots and             cheese.    

.     like               with                   lots of

Finally I handed out pencils and paper, and the children set to work. All they had to do was draw a line across the page, and write their words above or below. A couple of children squished the words all together to begin with;

Snow very fast I make a

is falling think I’ll man

but as I went round the room I could untangle this. On my recorder, I played their compositions using A and C’ which are the first notes I play to teach them, once they can get their hands on recorders, that is. Fingers crossed for the next lesson. Meanwhile, the children composed lines and lines of so-mi song, which they are keeping safe until they learn the notes.

You can run this lesson using any instrument, or chime bars. So long as you know which notes make a ‘so mi’ pair. Here are a few pairs for starters, higher note (so) first; F D, G E, C A, D B. To make it ‘topic-based’, just specify the subject matter for the composition. Easy.





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