Music Notes April 2016



Recorders! The 3rd graders are just beginning, the 4th graders are well underway in preparing for their Carnegie Hall Link-Up experience with the Madison Symphony Orchestra on May 14th and the 5th graders are reviewing skills from last year and adding to them so they can use the recorder in their upcoming "Chamber Ensembles" work.

Many of us, myself included, have a not so favorable impression of the recorder from elementary days. A few factors work against classroom recorder: 1) They are meant to be solo instruments and we play them as a pack 2) L ike any instrument, it cannot be mastered in a few months (or even years) 3) Because they are not in a band or orchestra it is easy to lose sight of what a "professional recorder player" sounds like.

So, why play the recorder? I had to ask myself that very question before diving in to commit to teach it a few years ago. I decided that recorder playing can offer these unique opportunities, if done well.

1) The ability to be really attune to small details and the big difference they can make. For instance, just a tiny, tiny bit of air can change an A to an A#! Just a very small opening in a finger covering a hole can cause squeaking. Though these might seem like reasons NOT to play recorder, how often in life does being really careful and noticing small details pay off? In music, it is often these little details that help a piece sound like "music" and not "random noise".

2) There is so much more motivation with an instrument to decode the abstract symbolic notation that is the music language. Making sense of abstractions is a very transferable outcome to many areas of learning!

3) Persistence. No one (I mean, No. One.) sounds great on recorder on day 1. Or day 2. Or day... (You get the idea.) Yet, it is a music area where the kids actually can assess themselves and see progress. They see themselves playing notes that they never knew and making it through long stretches of score that made no sense at first. They see that sticking with something has rewards!

So, my little recorders, play on!


K-2 students have been creating! Creations Include: Ostinatos (repeated patterns that accompany other pieces), rhythm patterns, original songs and new verses to existing songs.

Here are a few verses that some kindergarten classes wrote to a favorite song, "Fuzzy, Fuzzy Caterpillar":

From Ms. Reicke's class:
Tiny, tiny kindergartner,
Playing in the shade,
Don't you know that someday
You will be in the First Grade?
Don't you know that someday
You will be in the First Grade!

From Ms. Mileham's class:
Tiny, tiny penguin egg
Held in your father's feet,
Don't you know that someday
You'll grow up and walk a beat?
Don't you know that someday
You'll grow up and walk a beat!


Margaret Jenks


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