I have been trying different ways to get more one on one time with students who are learning to play recorder. We all know how it is to listen to 25 recorders at once, especially when they are first beginning 😀 So, I decided I need to do something. I also believe it is important for students to know how to read the notes on the treble clef. Well, I think I have found the way! I begin my class with a simple warm up (2 min tops) to get everyone playing. Then we break off in groups! I usually have four groups going at once! When I first began doing this I thought, “I really hope this doesn’t back fire!” and so far it hasn’t! My four stations: 1. playing recorder with me 2. Musician of the month 3. Worksheets 4. treble clef twister.
I will explain these further along, but first (How do you do all this and not lose track of time?) I keep track of time with an online stop watch. There are a ton of them out there, so just google and choose the one you like the best! Or you could by a kitchen timer. I put my laptop at the table with the worksheets. I choose one person out of each group who I can trust and let them operate it. I have been splitting my class into 5 min. segments.
Now, to the activities! First there is playing recorder with me. That is pretty self-explanatory. I usually have a song that the class is working on. I put it up with the projector and we practice playing it. This gives me time to work with 5 or 6 students at a time. I can work on the common problems of students not covering wholes, blowing to hard, etc…
The second activity is Musician(s)/composer(s) of the month. I have a bulletin board with posters and articles of different musicians. When the group goes to this station, they are to read about the musician and write one fact (and it can’t be the same as their neighbor). They write this on one sheet of paper, so I should have 5 or 6 facts per group.
Activity number three: Worksheets. This is often their least favorite (which is why I put the clock here, they love the clock), but it is a way that I can individually assess. I have them do worksheets that involve counting rhythms, writing note names, musical terms etc… Here are some great websites for free worksheets:
Lastly, Treble Clef twister! I learned this game from an old band director and thought it was awesome! Here is how it works: You need some type of tape (duct tape, painters tape, etc..) This is used to make the GIANT staff on the floor. You will also need a square piece of card board and a round fastener. This is to make the spinner. Once you have made everything then you play, just as you are to play twister! It’s a simple game. Choose one person to be the spinner and the other people play. (Of course, make sure to choose a different spinner person every week so everyone gets a chance to play) This section tends to get a little noisy so to make it more difficult I make it “Silent” twister. If you talk or fall you are out! Once they are out they come and join group one in making music on the recorder.
Now, just to let you know I did not start all these groups at once! I began slowly by have two groups, then built it up to four groups. It took about two months to have everything going at once and I am still working on a few classes. If you decide to try it out, please let me know how it works for you. Also, if you have any other great ideas please share them!