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Recorder groups in school - anyone run one ?

(24 Posts)
traceyinrosso Thu 22-Sep-11 10:06:42

Hi, at my kids school they used to learn recorder but the teacher retired and it just doesn't seem to happen any more so I was wondering whether to volunteer to help having played as a child and able to read music etc. Does anyone run one as a parent - is it a noisy nightmare or good fun ? Do you use a good beginners book you could recommend ? Any help gratefully received !

jenniec79 Thu 22-Sep-11 17:06:57

I ran a beginners' group for the junior school attatched to my high school for one of my GCSE music projects (back in the mists of time, admittedly) There were 3 of them; one fanatical about it, one interested enough and one who really didn't give a damn but had been told she had to come along shock

I had to make up my own worksheets as it was my coursework, but used Recorder from the beginning, From descant to treble, Look clap and play recorder and the school recorder book 1&2 - that last one was awful, but was the old fashioned one most people remember and our set recorder book in the juniors so I had to refer back to it in the end hmm

I don't play piano, so did lots of rounds, simple harmonies etc so they could get used to playing in a group etc. It was loads of fun, but then again I self taught recorder and treble clef music reading aged 5 then played in a group of one sort or another till I hit 19, so I'm maybe a bit biased!

IloveJudgeJudy Thu 22-Sep-11 17:11:17

I run one, but I run the advanced one smile. the school use Recorder from the Beginning (has 3 books, I think) by John Pitts. There are two versions for the pupils - one with and one without a CD. The CD is quite nice for the children to play with at home. It's only used after quite a few notes have been learned, though. The book's obviously cheaper without the CD.

I find it good fun! I found the beginners hard work, though. Some have no idea at all. I also would ensure that they play with their left hand at the top, playing B A and G, etc as it's a nightmare when they progress and have to change hands or can't play C# properly. If the children want to learn and aren't made to then that makes it much easier.

Good luck.

jenniec79 Thu 22-Sep-11 17:20:09

There's at least 3 books in RFTB - I think I worked through 3 "reading scheme" type ones and 2 with extra tunes in the mid 80s - I bet the CD helps too!

Definately make sure they have the basics re hand position etc. And tuning!

traceyinrosso Thu 22-Sep-11 18:42:55

Thank you everyone - I will look up the books ! Wish me luck !

BusterGut Thu 22-Sep-11 21:23:09

Just a little tip, if you do small people make sure they can reach low C with their fingers. Put them off a year if they can't! It's very frustrating for everyone as you extend their knowledge of notes and all they can do is squeak because they can't cover the holes!

With Y2, I wouldn't teach the stave - just teach by letter name. It's a bit too much for them to absorb the symbols for notes and transfer to their fingers. (Someone is now going to come on here saying how their genius child can do it, but I'm talking about the average child smile)

Make sure you get parent consent forms signed to agree with your terms - i.e. the child will be chucked out of the club if they fail to come x times... a club is a commitment.... the recorder is an instrument that needs to be PRACTISED.... a letter is required from the PARENT if the child wants to quit. (Children have a habit of forgetting the lessons on hot sunny days!)

Good luck! grin

lingle Thu 22-Sep-11 21:33:51

I lead an "any instrument, anyone can join" orchestra.
would love to hear from anyone else mad enough to do this.

BusterGut Thu 22-Sep-11 21:39:06

We do! Love it!

lingle Thu 22-Sep-11 21:50:27

is that to me buster? <hopeful>

BusterGut Thu 22-Sep-11 22:00:45

Yep! smile

Ferguson Thu 22-Sep-11 22:22:33


I ran recorder groups for ten years, ch started in Yr2 in our Infant Sch, some carried on to Juniors; usually faded away by Yr5, but I did have Yr6 one year ask me to help them put on performance for sch before they left for Secondary sch.

Some years DID use printed music if ch could cope with it, but mostly didn't bother as ch could do it from memory.

Make sure they learn to 'tongue' properly and not just blow. And not overblow and squeak!

I also did keyboard and percussion with groups over the years. The experience of making music and co-operating in small groups is very valuable, rather than trying to make accomplished performers. Recorder also paves the way to go on to other woodwind instruments, or saxophone (which our DS, now aged 28 and still playing) did.

lingle Fri 23-Sep-11 13:11:42

Ooh hello buster!

what level of insanity does yours reach? Today we had 27 kids, at least 10 of whom have never had a music lesson doing "Super Trouper". I know there wasn't a tuba in Abba and I've always felt they were a lesser band as a result.

What instruments do you have?

BusterGut Fri 23-Sep-11 17:59:06

OMG lingle - I think I've misunderstood - ours have had at least 3 months tuition in an instrument.
Blimey - you mean they come in a pick up an instrument and then play along as they see fit???

WOW! (Sorry - can't add anything to that!!) smile smile

P.S. You can never spoil an Abba song, so don't be disheartened.....

lingle Fri 23-Sep-11 18:43:07

thanks for the WOW! Most of the parents of course have no inkling that we are doing-six-impossible-things-before-breakfast by doing this. Most of the not-yet-learnings go on to percussion but some go for it on violin ("look, there are four strings, if you pluck one of the ones in the middle at the same time as the drum and it will be fine") or cello (similar strategy).

We had a new saxophone player today who'd had one lesson. The lovely thing was not the noise he made, it was the way it gave the other 26 kids physical contact with such a cool instrument (have to say I was pretty excited)

What saves it is that we had six adults with the 27 kids so the ones who can play had someone to follow and the ones who are just starting did rhythm section. We just tell them to play when the drum plays. So the poor little drummer boy is like the bottom card in a pack of cards. We also modulate between G/D and Bflat/F all the time so all the transposers get a chance to play the tune in a key friendly to their instrument.

There is a slightly snooty competitive music festival in our area and I'd love to enter us smile.

BusterGut Fri 23-Sep-11 19:51:51

Good luck lingle! I'm in AWE!! smile

netherlee Fri 23-Sep-11 20:40:50

You dont say how old the kids are, but another vouch for rftb. It says age 7-11 and personally I find kids younger than this struggle with recorder physically, however bright they are.

As to 'noisy nightmare', try youtube and look for taiwan childrens groups (kenkunchao would do). They make them sound heavenly, as can any child who gets through the initial squeaks.

netherlee Fri 23-Sep-11 21:06:14

Hope noone minds me posting a link. Here is another one I just found. Now if our primary kids could play recorders like this........ They look so cute as well.

jenniec79 Sat 24-Sep-11 00:43:42

buster I self taught recorder entirely because the teacher I should have had said I was too young and small and she was only taking top infants not mixed infants class from that year on. I still remember, still disagree and still claim to be the best recorder player she never taught! In retrospect if I'd gone to her class I'd have probably got very bored and given up, as is I've played grade 8 plus pieces, passed exams composed played other instruments and taught...

Look at the whole child op

jenniec79 Sat 24-Sep-11 00:53:39

Ps had been given descent for new term as wanted to start at the end of prev term and have one of my first full memories of showing the witch teacher that I could full well reach all the holes!!angry angry angry

triskaidekaphile Sat 24-Sep-11 01:11:24

Good luck. Recorders sound truly dreadful to me even when played well and played badly they make me giggle uncontrollably to the extent that I had to walk out of one of my children's school concerts pretending to have a coughing fit a few years ago. I think you are a

lingle Sat 24-Sep-11 11:26:25

still would love to hear about your group buster - what instruments do you have? Any transposing ones? What keys do you use?

ImNotaCelebrity Sat 24-Sep-11 20:07:21

lingle - my set up sounds like buster's. Usually, 1 term of lessons is enough to be able to join in. It's easy to write extremely simple parts. Last term I had around 38 in the orchestra (just me doing it): violins, viola, cellos (celli?), recorders, flutes, clarinets, saxophone, french horn, trumpet, euphonium, percussion, bass and tenor xylophones, and soprano glockenspiels. I usually put pianists on the glocks and xylos, and non-musicians on percussion. This term it looks like it will be similar, but all our brass players have moved on. Hopefully a few more will start lessons at some point and we'll have a couple by the end of the year. There's a brilliant website for arrangements to suit any standard of player - you basically let him know exactly what instruments you've got, what standard they are, and he'll write parts to suit: I don't use flat keys, because they don't suit string players at all until grade 2 and beyond. Mostly D major or G major. Oh - and it's organised chaos!

BusterGut Sat 24-Sep-11 22:04:59

Jennie79.... sorrreeeee!
There are Y2 children with really small fingers, who, believe you me, will never be able to reach those holes! I'm talking motivation - if you can't reach, you squeak.... FACT! Then leave it a year.

Of course children can be taught from Y2+ (which is what we do) - I had one set of 4 who played in my group through to Y6 and one of them is now on grade 7 at secondary school. However, we always check for hand-reach first.

lingle Sun 25-Sep-11 12:06:39


ok, I was enjoying that WOW! I got from Buster but now I have to take it and hand it to you. Doing 38 by yourself is nothing short of magnificent.

We've found we just have to modulate for the brass - they all want that experience of playing the tune.

We started seriously at Easter. We tried "Our House" but it didn't work that well - I thought it would be clever because the verse/chorus naturally modulates between G and F - so strings did verse and brass did chorus - but the rhythm requires more musicianship than they had.

Then we did mamma mia - working up to whole verse, bridge and chorus, essentially with "white note gang" doing it first then modulating and then brass/clarinets doing it in a different key. that came together and it was really exciting.

This term we introduced the concept of everything keeping to rhythm with a very simple "We Will Rock you". Then this week we've started work on Super Trouper which I'm optimistic about.

Would love to know what pieces you've done. Any Christmas plans yet?

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