Elementary Music Teacher Blog

Posts from the Past

Posted by admin on January 3, 2013 in Books, Decoration, Elementary Music, Lesson Plans, Musicals, Teaching Aids, Technology with No Comments

Froggy-Gets-Dressed-300x242Sometimes when looking at a blog, you don’t have time or get a chance to read articles written a year or two or three ago! So to help you out, here are posts from January 2012!

Pinterest: Check it out! My blog is pinned many times on Pinterest!

Recorders: Read how I teach recorders and what materials I use!

January 2011 Posts: Previous posts about the FootNOTES rug I use to teach music literacy, how I use hula-hoops to conduct my students and using Froggy Gets Dressed with instruments for the winter!

Sing, Dance, Shake Your Tail Feathers: Decor outside the music room for the winter.

Squirm!: The musical I chose for the 1st grade performance in 2012 was a new one called Squirm! My students LOVED it! The songs, especially A Spider Song, are challenging yet so catchy that I want to listen to them over and over again!







Recorder Rules

Posted by admin on February 4, 2012 in Elementary Music with No Comments

All year long, I have my Recorder Rules posted in my classroom. Not only do they provide nice color on the white wall, but they remind students of the recorder basics. A better name for them may be Recorder Reminders.

1. Left hand on top

2. Head up

3. Always use good posture

4. Fingers in front, thumbs in back

5. Always tongue the notes, “too” or “tah”

6. If squeaking and squawking, FIX IT!

Writing a post about my Recorder Rules has made me think more about them, and I discovered two things I talk about a lot with my kids but don’t have on my rules!! For the most part, squeaking is caused by blowing too hard. So, I need to add something like “blow gently” or I tell my students to “blow bubbles, not birthday candles”. Another saying I use is “the lower you go, the less you blow”.  Also, squeaking is caused by not covering all the holes needed to play the note(s). “Cover all holes” may need to be up there too! I will put those on my list of things to do!!

Here is a photo of my current Recorder Rules:


Posted by admin on January 12, 2012 in Elementary Music with No Comments

It is time for my students to begin playing recorders! I teach recorder to 3rd and 4th graders (I have no 5th graders). Some music teachers choose to teach recorder only to one grade level – usually their oldest students. I choose to teach it to 3rd and 4th graders. By introducing the music staff, how to read line/space notes and teaching basic recorder songs in 3rd grade, I find that by 4th grade it is review and they can learn more challenging songs! It sinks in more when you spread it out between two grades.

The recorder materials I use are some of my own Finaled familiar songs, the Recorder Karate book, embroidery floss for belts and Peripole Angel Halo Recorders. My kids get to keep their music and any belts they earn and a recorder if they purchase one from me. If they already own one or just want to borrow one everyday (and clean it out with soap and water afterward!), then they do not bring me any money. Purchasing is an option, not a requirement.

I think teaching students to play the recorder is a great way to “put it all together”. My students learn loads of terminology, read rhythms and notes, and play a musical instrument (fine motor skills!) all at the same time! Plus it is challenging, even for those high achieving kiddos.

So if you only teach recorders to one grade, or not at all, consider adding some (or more!) recorder to your curriculum.


Posted by admin on February 9, 2011 in Elementary Music with No Comments

Recorders gained popularity in schools in the 1950′s and are still a great instrument to teach to young children today. Students learn rhythms, how to read music… and how to put those two together along with fingerings. They also learn phrasing, breathing, tonguing, melody and many other musical concepts.

Right now, my 3rd and 4th graders are playing recorders. My 3rd graders are just getting started on the fingerings and putting rhythms and note reading together. They have been practicing rhythms all year, reading notes since December and now they are ready to have recorders in their hands. 4th graders worked on rhythms all year, reviewed treble clef notes beginning in January and just started bringing their recorders to play in class.

The recorders I use can be found at http://www.peripole.com/items/view/1018 and I highly recommend them. They are very professional student recorders. For only $4.25, each student gets a recorder, carrying bag, halo neck strap, cleaning rod, joint grease and a fingering chart. In my district and the surrounding ones, this is the brand of recorders used at the middle school level as well as elementary. So ideally, if purchased in 3rd grade, these recorders can last students all the way through 6th grade!

Wondering how to teach recorder and get your students excited about it? Well, look no further. The Recorder Karate method by Barb Philipak is a highly motivational and rewarding way to teach recorder to young students. Here is what Music K-8 says about this product:

“If you are looking for a classroom-tested, carefully planned recorder method, look no further. Or if you already have a favorite method and would like to add special magic and amazing motivation for your students, this unique kit is the answer. It has everything you will need to get started with young recorder players, including music, certificates, and other reproducible materials.

At the heart of this method is a positive reward system in which students receive colored “karate belts” (not included) to hang from their recorders for each progressively more difficult tune. Stories from the hundreds of teachers who have tried this method rave about the success it has created with all types of students in a variety of settings.”

Before I became the music teacher at my school, the students dreaded the recorder unit. But with the Recorder Karate method, both my 3rd and 4th graders LOVE recorders and ask me about playing them all year long!

If you only teach recorders to one grade, I implore you to teach them to at least two. Only 4th graders learned recorders with the previous music teachers, but during my internship experience, I saw the benefits of having more than one grade learning the recorders. It has been so easy teaching the recorder unit to my 4th graders this year, because they already have previous knowledge and experience. They are so much more successful this year! If you are using the Recorder Karate method, I split the belts up between the two grades – 3rd learns the first 4 belts (white, yellow, orange, green) and 4th learns the last 5 (purple, blue, red, brown, black). Trying to get all 9 belts in one grade is tough and many students struggle. I like more success, and so do my kids.

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