It's recorder time!! My 4th grade classes have been playing for two weeks now. We have been working on fundamentals and playing with a pretty, soft sound. I've also been crazy about articulation. I don't know why but a "fwah" attack drives me insane!
I am doing a couple things differently this year in order to reinforce all these great fundamental habits and really motivate the students. First, like recorder karate, we have 3 beginning belts: Black and Yellow striped, Pink and Sparkly.
Black and Yellow: "B Belt"
Hold a B with a soft, pretty sound for 20 counts with left hand on top and good posture. We practice a breathing exercise every time they come to music up to 24 counts.
Pink: Tonguing Belt
Tongue 4 notes in a row with a tah attack on each one
Sparkly: First solo
Play Hot Cross Buns for the class. I make my students leave their recorders in the classroom until they can play a song as a class. It is a great motivating tool and keeps them from going home and reinforcing bad habits.
Here is a picture of my recorder with the belts attached. I use pipe cleaners and they work like magic. The kids can get them on easily and they stay on! For the B belt, I just twisted yellow and black together. My fifth grade class came up with pink for tonguing. Everyone has gotten a kick out of that. And of course, sparkly is the most exciting belt.
Second, during class I am watching for students who are putting forth great effort and doing the fundamentals well. When I see or hear something great, I give the student a ticket. (Those carnival ride tickets...2000 on a roll for 4 bucks) They write their name on it and place it in the box. At the end of the six weeks, I will draw out x number of tickets and we are having an "Ice Cream Sundae Party."
As a review of fundamentals and a ticket opportunity, I sat in front of the class and performed things wrong, like posture, left over right, breathing, tonguing, etc. I asked the class to figure out what I was doing wrong and when they knew, raise their hand. If the person I called on got it correct, they got a ticket. Every hand in the room was up!