“Children will be drawn to their recorder in a way that will give the word ‘practicing’ a new meaning.”
Archive for September, 2010
After learning 2-3 notes (I personally start with B,A and G), here’s a fun exercise that continues to work on basic fingering coordination through ear training.
First, I make them stand in front of me in a half circle. Then, I play for them a short easy sequence with these 2-3 notes, and make them repeat it as a group. If the repetition is terrible, like it often is in the first time, I play it again and make them repeat it again.
Then, I try the same thing, with the same sequence, but standing with my back to them, or behind a screen, if there’s one in the class. Most of them were looking on my fingers when I was playing in front of them instead of repeating what they heard. So this way I help them make the connection to their ears with the help of their memory. I do this exercise a few times – first in front of them, then with my back to them – until I feel it gets better. Alternatively, it’s quite possible to just cover your fingers with the other hand, in case your class is on the hyperactive side…
When they start doing it better, then comes the hard part – I play another sequence, but only with my back to them (or with my fingers covered). Meaning, this time they have to purely rely on their ears, which is very hard for most at first. I try to do this a few times and see how they manage. If they do terrible, I can try giving them a hint, like – “I’m starting with a B”.
As a bonus, and to make it more fun for them, every lesson I can choose one child which would take my place in the exercise. He\She will be playing the simple pattern that everybody has to repeat. Of course to make it work, you would have to be very clear on how many notes are allowed in a pattern, and that you don’t have patience for goofing around…
I think we could all agree that keeping our students interested and motivated is not an easy task. And though I was not present at the time, I bet 40 years ago, when nobody had any play-stations, Nintendo or computer games, this task was much easier to accomplish.
Meaning, there’s no choice but to try and keep things interactive and super fun. So here’s an idea for a fun exercise for very beginners. I call it “the bird exercise”:
After teaching them B and basic tonguing, I teach them to play a basic pattern, like 3 quarters B, B, B or like B, B-B, B (quarter, 2 eight notes, quarter). Then I place everybody in a row and start having a question-answer sequence with each of them in his turn – I play a short melody and the student answers – B, B, B. I play a different melody and the next answers – B, B, B and on and on. The teacher’s melody is always a short funny one. With me it usually sounds like birds (or at least that’s what the kids say), and that’s how it got its name.
I prefer to do the question answer sequence one by one with the kids, but many prefer to do it so that everybody answers together in the same time. Of course both are possible. I personally prefer the individual one by one option for 2 reasons – 1. because this way I can hear each student individually and see how he’s doing and his basic skill level. 2. because with this option, one exercises also listening to one another, which I think is one of the most important things music could and should teach us.