Classroom management when teaching the recorder

Classroom management when teaching the recorder

Do you teach the recorder in your music classes? How do you manage all the squeaky sounds that come with it? Is it just me, or do kids seem to have a lot of trouble following instructions when it comes to the recorder? There is just something so tempting about blowing it when you're not allowed to.

Seriously though… Teaching the recorder can be a teacher's worst nightmare.

Personally, there are just some small tweaks I make that help sooooo much with classroom management.

For example, telling kids NOT to blow the recorder is practically an invitation for them to BLOW the recorder. So instead of doing that, when I want them to stop blowing, I now tell them to wave the recorder in the air like it's a magic wand. This is basically an act of misdirection. Works like magic.

Also, before even getting them to try the fingering on the recorder, I get students to put their recorders on their laps and do the fingerings in the air. In fact I turn that part into a whole game. Sometimes I get them to close their eyes and show me the fingering for the notes that I call out. Hot tip: Kids love anything that has some sort of competitive element.

Kids tend to over-blow the recorder. It's awful. One thing I like to do is to get the kids to imagine that they're blowing a bowl of hot soup. If they blow too hard, the soup will splatter all over. I get them to purse their lips and gently blow on their hands first as practice. Once they are ready, I then transfer that to the recorder.

Classroom management when teaching the recorder

Lastly, lessons need to be well-paced. Kids tend to get very restless when lessons move along very slowly. I try to keep kids engaged in activities throughout. So for example, if we have just learnt the first note – B, I make sure we get a lot of practice on the note using call and response. I will call out different rhythms using only the B note and kids respond by playing it on the recorder.

To make it more exciting, I sometimes walk around the classroom pointing to different children and getting them to echo my call. The important thing is keeping the beat throughout this exercise. It makes the whole activity very musical.

Contrary to what people think, children actually really like learning the recorder and we can really help to set things up for them so that they learn in the best environment possible. What are your tricks when it comes to classroom management while teaching the recorder?

Also, here's a recorder freebie that you might like! 

Free Recorder activity worksheet
Free Recorder Activity Worksheet

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