When we got our first box of curriculum, when Bug was in the third grade, and it came with two shiny new recorders. I feel guilty telling you this now, but Bug very briefly tried to play the thing, and then my husband and I pretty much lost it, and they “disappeared” to a high-up shelf.
I know music is important, and I really wanted to be a successful teacher, but for some reason, the recorder mystified me. The kids seemed to love making noise with it, but very little actual music was produced. I had all the supplies, but none of the heart, or the patience.
This year, my goal is to do hard things. And a recorder may not seem like a hard thing to you, but to me, teaching my child to play recorder while keeping my sanity seems like an impossible task.
I am here today to proudly tell you that it is not, in fact, impossible.
Behold, Bug playing Ode to Joy:
Regardless of the nutcase in the above video, he’s learning quickly, and is really enjoying himself. I am so proud of his willingness to practice and learn something new. I’m proud of myself for the kids having the recorders in hand for more than a day without me disappearing them. We’ve found a routine that is working for us, and it is so much easier for me to be patient with the kids when I have a stronger sense of how to make it work for us.
Some tips for working with your kids:
- Just jump in. Buy the recorder. Just do it. I know you think you’ll go crazy, but let the kids have music!
- Buy a good practice book. Oak Meadow carries a whole series of recorder books, and they are perfect for kids. You want a book that will help you with finger placement for notes and includes simple songs. The kids are more willing to practice when they are able to be successful quickly. Hot Crossed Buns is one of the first songs taught, and the kids pulled it off in a jiffy!
- Play along with them. It’s easier to learn and teach if you are playing too, and it’s less harsh on the ears when you are also making noise. Ordering a recorder for myself is probably the one thing that made the biggest difference.
- Have the kids practice in their room, with the door closed, and call them out for occasional concerts. This “practice with your door shut” rule has saved my ears, and has given Bug a chance to focus without Little Miss hounding him. Calling the kids out often to hear their progress provides them with the positive feedback they need to want to continue.
- Teach the kids to sit up straight, hold their recorders carefully, and blow gently.
- Encourage the kids to listen closely to the sound they make- and help them adjust their breath or force to produce a more pleasant sound.
- Keep the left hand on top, and have your child cover the holes with relaxed fingers (yes, I know Bug has his hand placement wrong- I am picking my battles this second, which is probably the wrong choice. LOL)