Teaching Beginners the Recorder
Teaching the Recorder is very rewarding. It is a simple instrument and you reap the rewards when students make progress and are stimulated to move forward.
First of all the recorder is a woodwind instrument of ancient lineage made without a reed. It is a forerunner to the flute but is end blown through a whistle mouthpiece. It is highly recommended as the instrument for children to commence formal music tuition on as its simplistic design allows young students to master its basic technique with ease. Often people begin on the recorder before moving onto another instrument. This makes learning that next instrument an easier task as the musical knowledge you learn on the recorder applies to whatever instrument you learn. The recorder comes in different sizes with the most common one being the descant recorder. Other recorders are the sopranino, treble (alto), tenor and bass.
As a teacher you need to:
1. give the student regular lessons either privately or in a small group eg a half hour weekly lesson.
2. recommend a suitable tutor book to learn from. There is a variety of tutor books to choose from so pick one to suit the age of the student. You can add other material as the need arises.
3. show the following on how to play the recorder to the student:
a. a suitable standing and sitting posture whilst playing.
b. a good position for holding the recorder.
c. where to put the mouth on the end piece to produce a good sound.
d. how to produce a good sound – many beginners blow too hard, thus producing a raucous and too highly pitched sound.
e. the position of the hands – the left hand should be on top, just like other wind instruments.
f. finger positions – fingers should be just above the holes- not several inches, or worse still, below the instrument.
g. the notes and how to finger them.
h. tonguing the notes – each note should be tongued to give a clear beginning to the sound. To tongue a
note you place the tongue on the roof of the mouth immediately above the back of the front teeth as in
pronouncing ‘doo’ or ‘too’.
4. teach the student musical theory which includes
a. musical notation
– treble clef sign: this is placed at the beginning of every line of music you play.Some instruments like the recorder use this sign.
– stave: this is the 5 horizontal lines the music is written on.
– note names: a note is a sign to tell you what sound to finger and play.There are line and space notes.You teach the student how to read these notes on the page and the use of words to help remember them eg use F A C E for the 4 space notes and Every Good Boy Deserves Fruit for the 5 line note taking the first letter from each word as the notes of E G B D F. You tell students to start from the bottom and go up.
– note lengths: notes have different time lengths and students generally learn them in the order of
(1, 2, 4, 3, 1/2, 1 1/2) counts or beats plus more as one progresses.
This can vary depending on the tutor book.
– bar lines: these are the vertical lines seen on the stave.
– double bar line: signifies end of piece.
– bar: this is area of music found between two bar lines.
– key signature: this is the sign shown by sharps, flats or nothing telling you the key of the piece.
Students start learning pieces in the key of C major (no sharps or flats) and the move onto pieces in G major (1 sharp) and F major (1 flat)
– time signature: this is the numbers found at the beginning of the piece after the clef sign and key signature.
b. musical terms
– dynamics (loud and soft playing): you teach the student to read the terms and to play them on the recorder
– speed indications like Allegro (fast), Andante (walking pace), Lento (slow) plus more
Please note 3 and 4 will be taught step by step following the tutor book and to meet the need of the student.
5. inspire students of all levels (slow to fast learners) and learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) You can play duets with private students and for groups tuition use duets, trios, quartets. Flashcards and games like dominos are interesting too.
6.encourage group playing especially for the private students. They may have friends who play an instrument.
7. encourage regular practise starting with 5 minutes/day and increasing it as more notes etc are learnt.
8. encourage performance: the student can do this gradually by performing to 1 person first and then family and friends and then in a concert situation. Have an annual concert and combine with other teachers if you wish.