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  • Writer's pictureJanis Aston

Recorders for the Holidays, Part 2

Give your students the gift of music that they can share at home.

I have seen all the tacky Facebook posts about the horrible sound of beginning recorder students. I saw a post recently of a recorder hanging from a tree limb—the demise of horrid sounds.

I agree that, when learning how to play the recorder, students can sound pretty bad. Teachers want to give up. Parents want to fire the teachers for sending students home to practice it. But, have you ever heard a beginning oboe student? I have. Our daughter decided oboe was her instrument of choice. We thought she loved ballet. Now, that's a very quiet and beautiful art form. We loved it. But music became increasingly her choice. And she mastered it . . . eventually.

And then there were the early days of my marriage when I returned to college for my music education degree. My husband made me practice all those required instruments outside on the front porch. Trumpet especially. His major instrument was trumpet and my sounds on his instrument were unidentifiable! I was a piano major. I did not know anything about blowing into an instrument nor did I want to learn! We are still married—47 years later! Amazingly enough!

But the nice thing about recorder is that students can achieve success within a short amount of time. And when you add a wonderful accompaniment track to their melody, something magical happens. The child feels like he/she is making beautiful music. Parents can join in singing or playing another instrument.

My daughter is now a professional musician and her husband is also a fine musician and award-winning composer. We are proud! My husband and I teach our grandchildren their music lessons. Recorder is included because they do not receive a sequential, music education at school. Last night, my seven-year-old grandson sightread Jingle Bells and played it fairly well. And he identified the form of the refrain—ABAC—without prompting. I was amazed. We are preparing a little concert for the family at Christmas and it's going to be so fun. Our whole family loves playing recorder together and now the kids can join us.

You can encourage your students to learn familiar songs to play at home with great accompaniment tracks. Introduce songs in class, either virtual class or in-person class. If online, mute the students while everyone is playing. Watch their fingerings carefully. Use the songs to teach form.

The lesson plans for each of the songs in the Holiday Songs for the Recorder Resource Pack include every step for teaching each of 12 songs, phrase cards, fingering charts, historical information, narration for a program, and the best part—accompaniment tracks!

Each song is also sold individually. Students can now purchase the eBook AND the accompaniment tracks together. Great graphics, easy-to-read notation.

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