Category Archives: Recorder

Outside Games & Recorder Composition

Outside Music Classes

For those of you in the south, you’ve had nice weather for a while now.  But up north in Alberta, the last snowfall was May 5th.    After a long winter, when nice weather finally arrives everyone wants to be outside – students AND teachers.  
 
I really enjoy taking music class outside.  Singing games, especially chase games, are better played outside than inside.  Inside, you have to find ways of slowing down chase games, but outside you can let the kids run!

Singing Games – Chase Games in Musicplay

Lucy Locket
Mouse Mousie
Charlie Over the Ocean
Tisket a Tasket
Let Us Chase the Squirrel
Cut the Cake
Ickle Ockle
Our Old Sow
Hill Hill Come Over the Hill
Kye Kye Koolay
Turkey Lurkey
King’s Land
Frog in the Middle
I Like Turkey
Built My Lady
John the Rabbit

Frog in the Middle 

This is a seriously fun game!  And if your students are finding frogs outside, this is a great game for spring!

 

Game Directions: The children form a circle. Choose one child to be the frog in the middle. The “frog” stands with eyes shut and arms outstretched. While the children sing the song, the “frog” turns. At the end of the song, the two children closest to the frog’s hands step out of the circle and race in the same direction. The first one back to tag one of the frog’s hands, wins. 

Teaching Purpose/Suggestions: This song is great preparation for low la and low so.  Your students should be able to read the rhythms in the song. 

Ickle Ockle

Musicplay 5
Fun chase game – and so much more fun outside than inside.
Great reading song – ls m and ta, ti-ti
View the kids demo video at www.musicplayonline.com
 

  
Hill Hill

Musicplay 2
View the kids demo video at www.musicplayonline.com
We played the game outside because it’s way more fun outside where you can run, than inside.
Teaching Purpose:  great reading song – so-mi, and introduces half notes.
 

Directions, music and kids demo movies for all the games are found at www.musicplayonline.com.

All of these songs can be found in Musicplay and in the 

Singing Games Children Love Collection!

 

Volume 1 with lots of chase games

Volume 2 clap games, movement

 

Volume 3 games for K-3     

 

Volume 4 games for Gr. 3-6

 

Recorder Composition

30 recorder players composing at the same time could drive you crazy in the classroom. But outside, students can improvise and compose melodies in their own space and using the template in the Recorder Resource Kit, they will create compositions that are playable and musical.
 
Limit students to the rhythms ta, ti-ti, rest
Limit the notes the students can use to BAG or BAG E or BAG ED (depends on their playing ability) . If using BAG E they should end on G or E.  If BAG, end on G.
1.  Have students create a rhythm pattern under the hearts.  Check it.
2.  When rhythm is successful have them improvise melodies on that rhythm using the notes BAG or BAG ED.  When they have a melody they like, write the letters in.  They should then play their melody for you.  If it’s successful, they should write the notes on the staff.
3.  Accompany melodies that end on G with a G-D bordun on a bass metallophone or xylophone.  Accompany melodies that end on E with an E-B bordun.
 

This is the template that I use for composition.  It’s in the Recorder Resource Kit 1.  it’s also in the files at Musicplay Teachers Group on Facebook.

 

This is an example of a 4th grade student composition – ends on E, so accompany with E-B bordun, sounds great!

 
 
 
Boomwhacker Composition

Divide your students into groups, give them pentatonic Boomwhackers and invite them to create a rhythmic composition with movement. (Melodic composition is possible, but takes longer) My students really enjoyed this and all groups were on-task, engaged, and successful. We did this for 2 periods, then groups performed for each other.  

 
 
Drumming or Bucket Drumming

I’ve been teaching bucket drumming in several elementary classes this month. It’s tons of fun, but would be fun to teach outside. You wouldn’t have the ability to project music to teach, so you’d have to plan to teach everything by rote.  More bucket drumming ideas will be coming to musicplayonline.com
Easy Bucket Drumming is an excellent resource.
Order Bucket Drumming in Canada.     USA/International – order here

Playground Balls

Plainsies Clapsies

This is the best game ever with playground balls.  In the classroom, I use beanbags, but this game would be fun to try with playground balls.  Are you old enough to remember playing with playground balls in elementary school?
View the kids demo video at www.musicplayonline.com
This game is way easier to figure out from the kids demo than directions.
Great teaching piece:  ls m and ta, ti-ti
And kids LOVE it!!!
 

 
 

Skipping Rhymes in Singing Games Vol. 1

Cinderella
Bluebells
Had a Little Crate
On a Mountain
Miss Lucy
Oliver Twist
Skipping is another playground activity that might be lost unless music and PE teachers encourage it.  Miss Lucy and Oliver Twist are in Musicplay and are traditional skipping rhymes.

 

Outside Music Classes are FUN – share your ideas, photos and videos  at Musicplay Teachers Facebook Group!

Watch this week’s teaching tip:

 
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Performance Assessments

Are you doing assessments for your end of the year report cards?  One of the areas that I want to assess is how well children perform music in choirs, Orff ensemble, on unpitched instruments, recorder, ukulele or guitar.

Assess a Choral Performance

When you’re conducting a choir, it’s almost impossible to assess the performance of an individual child during the performance.  But you can video the performance, and use it to assess some aspects of performance.
* are students watching the conductor?
* do students use good posture in performance?
* are students singing with an open mouth?

Discuss the Performance with your Students:  (Musicplay 3, song#1)

– “Did we use good diction?”
  “What could we do to help the audience hear our words more clearly?”
– “How can we sing softly and stay in tune?”
– “Did we all breathe in the same places?”
– “Did we sing the phrases the same way?”  “Did we start and end phrases together?”
– “Did we match pitch?”
– “Did the voices sound nicely blended, or were there individual voices that you could hear?”
– “Were the vowels pure?”
– “ Was the tone pleasant, open and resonant or was it sometimes “shouty”?”
– “Did the class maintain a steady beat and perform rhythms accurately?”
– “Could you hear the dynamic contrast at the end of the song?”
Ask the students to think of compliments and comments about their own performance.   

I NOTICED………..    I WONDER……….

Brian Burnett suggests the use of the words “I noticed” and “I wondered” when making comments about performances.   I liked this because it frames statements in a positive way.

THREE STARS AND A WISH

Another way to assess performances that I like is 3 stars and a wish.
If a group has performed in class, invite students to share 3 things they liked (3 stars) and a wish for what they might do differently.
* . ______________________________________
* . ______________________________________
* . ______________________________________
I wish ____________________________________

Quick self assessment for students:

Show me your fingers.  Ask them to hold them against their heart, so it’s just between you and them.
4 fingers – I did an awesome job
3 fingers – I did pretty well
2 fingers – I tried my best, but made mistakes
1 finger – I could have tried harder and could have done a lot better
 
Part of an assessment or a performance can be a student self-evaluation:

Student Self-Evaluation of Choral Performance

 

3 Second Listen

Part of the Assessment might be done in rehearsal. I use the 3 second listen for large groups or for a very quick assessment.  I have the class line up in class list order. (alphabetical).  Then I have them sing as a group, often with a recording.  I walk up and down the rows listening to each child for about 3 seconds, and record their grade on my class list.
X = excellent
VG = very good, with a few pitch slips
S = satisfactory – somewhat close, but is not fully in tune
NY = not yet – the child is wildly out of tune, speaking or not trying

 

Teacher Assess Orff Ensemble

I’ve used this rubric to assess performance in an Orff ensemble.
If possible, video the performance, then assess each child.
 

 
And you can have students do a self-assessment.

Student Self-Assessment in Orff Ensemble

 

Recorder Solo Assessment

This is a very detailed assessment.  I’d probably only use this once in a term.

 

To the Teacher: Since it is very time consuming to assess a complete performance of a solo by every child, assess one skill in isolation every week and assess only 1-3 solos or parts of solos per term.  I seat my students in alphabetical order, and grade directly to my class list.  Instead of calling attendance, I identify the skill to be performed, and give them a short exercise to perform it on.  For example, I assess tonguing on a short rhythm pattern:ta ta ta ta | too-oo too-oo    I can assess legato connections at the same time.  I assess rhythm reading by holding up rhythm flashcards and having each child read one. Pencil and paper exercises are given in the kit and should be marked and grades recorded.  Use the mad minutes as a  tool to assess note names by cutting off the top part and having students complete them in a given time (I use 3 minutes).

This is a much quicker rubric to use:

Rubric for Assessing Student Playing:

1 – Plays correct notes and rhythms with excellent tone, legato tonguing, breath control, and posture
2 – Plays correct notes but is missing one or more of the following: accurate rhythms, excellent tone, tonguing
3 – Plays most of the notes correctly but is missing two or more of the following: accurate rhythms, excellent tone, tonguing
4 – Plays few of the notes and rhythms correctly
 
Assessment is a big topic and these are just a few of the ways that you might use to assess performance.  Share your ideas, rubrics and videos on the Musicplay Teachers Facebook Group!
 
 

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Which Rhythm? Print Version – USA
 
 
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Recorder Solo Assessment Rubric

As teachers are approaching the end of their recorder units, we wanted to share a rubric to use for solo assessments.  This rubric is available to print, or you can download a fillable PDF.  This is a great option if you want to save paper and quickly type in comments. Click the links below to download the rubrics.

 

Click here for the printable rubric!

Click here for the fillable rubric!

Ideas for Advanced Recorder Players

The last few weeks at Musicplay we have been focusing on teaching tips for recorder. We posted many videos on our Facebook, Instagram and YouTube accounts on how to teach hand placement, make a legato sound, and a recorder warm-up.  This week we will share some strategies for your students who need the added challenge. See below for some ideas, tips and resources from Musicplay for your advanced recorder students: 

Add a “Soprano 2” Option:

Have a second melody line available for students to play. This option is available in the Recorder Kit Level Two.  Those students who are ready and can read the second line can give it a try.  The students also enjoy hearing the different harmony this creates.

Recorder Duets:

Did you know there are duet parts available for the Recorder Kit Level One resource?  If you already own this resource, send the Musicplay Team an email at tvinfo@telus.net and we will send you a copy!

Alto Recorder:

The Recorder Kit Level 2 has a transposed alto recorder option. Students can use the same fingering as the soprano recorder, but play on the Alto.  Again – this creates some fun harmony for the students.  Themes and Variations also has a NEW Alto Recorder Resource and Alto Recorders available to order (alto recorders only available in Canada).

Ensemble Groups:

Give students an opportunity to play as a group with others. Students can be assigned parts at their level, giving those students who need more challenge an opportunity to try something new.  This can be in class, or do a recorder group/club over a lunch hour.  Below are some ensemble resources available from Themes and Variations. Click on each cover to learn more about these great products! 




RECORDER RESOURCES USA STORE

Recorder Mad Minutes

MAD MINUTES – A Great Way to Help Students Develop Note Reading Abilities!

Mad Minutes help students develop their note reading ability. Mad minutes were invented by math teachers to help children develop instant recall of math facts.  In music, Mad Minutes are timed drills to practice letter names. As the students enter the classroom give a mad minute and a pencil to each student.  Usually I hand out the papers, and the first student in line gives out the pencils.

If students are learning BAG songs on the recorder, they should be completing a BAG Mad Minute.  As they learn to play more notes, add the notes to the Mad Minute.

Start the timer, and tell the students to “GO!”   Tell the students to call out “Done!” and raise their hands when they are finished. Then, you tell them how many seconds or minutes and seconds it took them to complete. I like to do a mad minute at the start of every recorder class. In the Recorder Resource Kit there are two BAG mad minutes, then the mad minutes add a note. When you are working on BAG songs, use the BAG mad minute. When you start on the low E, use the BAG E mad minute. Use each mad minute more than once – lots of repetition is needed for students to develop instant recall of note names.

Students try to improve their best time. It’s not competing against others in the class – they are competing against themselves. This has been really engaging for my students – a great way to start off the class.

Watch the video to see the level of engagement!

If you have students taking private lessons, make them harder mad minutes. If they take piano, I give them a mad minute with treble and bass clef – and the piano teachers love me for it.

Where can you get Mad Minutes?  Mad Minutes are included in the Recorder Resource Kit. We’ve just lowered the price of the Recorder Resource Kit with Projectables (PDF and videos!) to $40!   The Recorder Resource Kit include 38 songs in regular AND Kids Notes notation. The songs are sequenced as follows: BAG E D C’ D’ F C. The kit includes many extras: practice bugs, composition template, quiz, rubrics, theory worksheets, and note name flash cards. It’s available as print and/or download.  The Kit includes instruction on how to do a Recorder Karate program with selected songs from the kit.  But there are far more than test pieces in the kit – this is a carefully sequenced collection, so your students will learn to read music – they won’t just learn to play a test piece by rote.  

Order the Recorder Resource Kit from your favorite music store or from Themes & Variations:

Canada: http://shop.musicplaytext.ihoststores.com/productinfo.aspx?productid=116-P

USA: http://shop.musicplaytext1.ihoststores.com/productinfo.aspx?productid=116-P

All the songs that are in the Recorder Resource Kit are given twice – regular notation and kids notes. With Kids Notes, the letter name is imprinted right on the note.  You can make kids notes booklets for your students who struggle – helping them to keep up with the class.  Kids notes are a huge help to students who still struggle – even after completing many mad minutes.  The projectable PowerPoints, PDFs and movies in the Kit project both regular notation AND kids notes.  Kids notes are much better for the kids than writing letters under the song.  When kids pencil in notes, all they look at is the pencil.  With Kids Notes, they see the placement on the staff and they read the rhythms – and easily transition to note reading when they are developmentally ready.

  • The Recorder Resource Kit includes 38 songs in regular AND Kids notes notation.  It also includes:
  • mad minutes
  • theory worksheets
  • assessment tools:  theory quiz and playing rubrics
  • Recorder Karate test pieces, and helpful hints (in the Teacher’s guide)
  • Projectables in 3 formats:  PDF, PowerPoints, Movies

Canada: http://shop.musicplaytext.ihoststores.com/productinfo.aspx?productid=116-P

USA: http://shop.musicplaytext1.ihoststores.com/productinfo.aspx?productid=116-P

Student Book Recorder / Book / CD Packages
Students practice more and practice better when they have the accompaniment CD. We make these affordable packages available to Canadian schools. For $10 you get either a quality Handel recorder or a Yamaha recorder, the Recorder Resource Student Book and a CD. (If students don’t have a disk drive on their computer, they can email for a download version) . Order Packages for Canadian Schools

Outdoor Music Classes

We’re down to the last 2 weeks of school for Canadian teachers, and this can be a tough 2 weeks to get through. Taking your classes outside can give you some welcome sunshine and fresh air, and give you an opportunity to do some activities that don’t work as well inside.
I’d suggest that outside to save your voice from vocal strain, you use a portable microphone. You can order a Chattervox online – http://www.chattervox.com. (Themes doesn’t sell them any longer) .  If you don’t wear a microphone, consider taking a coach’s whistle with you and develop some hand signals with your class.

Singing Games, especially the chase games, are more fun outside than indoors. If you use www.musicplayonline.com you’ll notice that some of the kids demos were done outside.

These are some of the chase games I’ve played very successfully outside.
Lucy Locket – Musicplay1

Lucy Locket Chase Game

 Other favorite Chase Singing Games includes:
Cut the Cake – Musicplay 4
Ickle Ockle – Musicplay 5


Our Old Sow – Musicplay 5
Let Us Chase the Squirrel – Musicplay 2, 4
Hill Hill – Musicplay 2
Directions, music and kids demo movies for all the games is found at www.musicplayonline.com.
OR – purchase the Singing Games Children Love collections:
USA – http://shop.musicplaytext1.ihoststores.com/category.aspx?categoryID=59
Canada – http://shop.musicplaytext.ihoststores.com/category.aspx?categoryID=116

Recorder Composition .  30 recorder players composing at the same time could drive you crazy in the classroom. But outside, students can improvise and compose melodies in their own space and using the template in the Recorder Resource Kit, they will create compositions that are playable and musical.

Recorder Composition Template

Boomwhacker Composition    Divide your students into groups, give them pentatonic Boomwhackers and invite them to create a rhythmic composition with movement. (Melodic composition is possible, but takes longer) My students really enjoyed this and all groups were on-task, engaged, and successful. We did this for 2 periods, then groups performed for each other.

Boomwhacker Composition

Drumming or Bucket Drumming .  I’ve been teaching bucket drumming in several elementary classes this month. It’s tons of fun, but would be fun to teach outside. You wouldn’t have the ability to project music to teach, so you’d have to plan to teach everything by rote.

Summer Workshops 2017

Artie and Denise #8 in Las Vegas – workshop to be held at University Methodist Church.  There’s still space in this workshop, and flights are still cheap!   Our hotel rooms at Treasure Island are just $59 (+25 resort fee).  We’ve got great sessions planned, and you’ll get a certificate with 16 hours of PD

Edmonton – August 24, 2017
Calgary – August 28, 2017
Toronto – August 30-31, , 2017
Langley, BC – Oct. 20th, 2017
Register online at www.musicplay.ca

Ready for Recorder?

Ready for Recorders?    For many teachers, January is when the students in Grade 3, 4, or 5 start learning to play the recorder. While the recorder may seem like a simple instrument, there are many skills needed to be successful. Students must be able to:

* tell which is their left and right hands
* hold the recorder with the left hand at the top, right hand at the bottom
* cover tiny holes with finger pads – not finger tips
* start the note with the tongue
* continue the air stream between notes to create a legato sound
* breathe in appropriate places
* demonstrate correct fingerings for notes
* read the names of the notes
* read and perform rhythms
* understand meter
* follow a conductor
* demonstrate appropriate rehearsal skills
* articulate: slur in some places, tongue in others
* develop good intonation
* develop a beautiful sound

This list is daunting for an adult!  Breaking the skills down, islolating and teaching one skill at a time will help all of your students become successful recorder players. In this newsletter, I’ve got some tips for teaching students to read the names of the notes.

Tip #1.  Start teaching note names well before you order or hand out the recorders! Your students in K-2 should learn about the staff as part of their music classes. They should learn how to number the lines and spaces from the bottom to the top, and you can teach them that the treble clef circles the note G.  If you review this when you are showing them a piece of music, the note G will be learned long before starting recorder.  I like to use the floor staff and the hand staff to teach letter names.  A post on Floor staff games can be found on my new blog www.denisegagne.com.   In this newsletter, I’ll discuss the hand staff.

Hand Staff for K-2: If you hold your left hand in front of you with your thumb up, palm facing you and your fingers spread out, it’s easy to imagine that your hand is a staff. You have five fingers, just like there are five lines on the music staff.. In K-2 have the students point to each finger starting with the finger that is closest to the floor. Number the “lines”of the hand staff.

Pointing Game:  Call out “line one” or “line five” and have the students point to the correct “line.” Have a student be the leader and call out the line number.  Then, point to the space between the fingers. This is the “space.” Call out “first space”or “third space” and have the students point to the correct “space.”  Students like to be the leaders of the pointing game. When they are successful at just lines or just spaces, include both lines and spaces inthe game.  Transfer the Pointing Game to an actual staff.  The cookie sheet staff is fun for the students to use!

Cookie Sheet staff

Letter Names Gr. 3-5: Starting in third or fourth grade, teach the letter names of the notes. I use these poems to introduce the line and space notes.
The notes on the line spell Every Good Boy Does Fine.   (E G B D F)
The notes in the space, Spell your FACE!   (F A C E)
Lines:  Name the first line E, second line G, third line B, fourth line D and fifth line F.  Play the pointing game having the leader call out E, G, B, D or F
Spaces:   Name the first space F, second space A, third space C and fourth space E.  Play the pointing game having the leader call out F A C E.
When students are successful at just lines or just spaces, include both lines and spaces in the game.  No worksheets are needed to teach or review the note names – just the students hands. (and/or the cookie sheet)  You can play the pointing games when ever you have a few minutes at the end of a class.

When the students can name the notes successfully, review some of the simple reading songs from previous grade levels by having students sing the letter names that you point to on the staff. (hand staff or a staff drawn on the board)   When doing this, introduce some of the easy recorder songs that they’ll be learning to play later in the year.  If you are using the Complete Recorder Resource Kit, some of the simple songs that you could have the students sing include Hot Cross Buns or Doggie Doggie.  Each of these simple songs are singing games, so after singing the letter names, sing the song and play the game.  When you give out recorders later in the year, the students will be able to sight-read the pieces on recorder much more easily after having learned them in the fall.