Here in South Africa, life has gradually been returning back to normal after 2 years of moving in and out of lockdowns. These lockdowns have however influenced the way I teach the beginner recorder lessons to the kids at school.
Last year we started the school year online, which here in South Africa begins in January. This year we started the school year in the classroom and now, halfway through the year, school life has actually returned back to the way it was before March 2020.
YOUTUBE RECORDER LESSONS FOR ONLINE TEACHING
When we had the first lockdown back in 2020 I had only taught my beginner recorder groups for 6 or 7 lessons and it was a mystery to me how I would teach them online.
Much to my delight two of our grown-up children spent most of the lockdowns with us. So together with my daughter, I decided to start a YouTube channel. This was going to be the way I would reach my Grade 2 and 3 recorder students. (More about that in my very first post Going Cold Turkey with the Blackboard.)
My recorder students received the link with instructions via Google Classroom. They printed and practised the exercise or piece that comes with the video at home, and then sent me a video clip via WhatsApp of them playing the piece.
USING YOUTUBE VIDEOS IN THE CLASSROOM
Even though we are back in the classroom I still use these YouTube videos to teach my recorder students. I have used LESSON 1 for the third time now because every year there is a new group of beginner recorder students, and… what a time saver it has been!
Using YouTube videos as a teaching aid while being there in person is definitely more effective than online teaching. I have also found that it is important to revise everything they learn from the video in a follow-up lesson. This can be done with the help of activities, extra exercises or pieces (songs) and worksheets, to make sure that they have understood the concepts taught in the video.
By sharing these videos and related worksheets I am hoping to help you, the teacher or parent, to save time as well. I trust that you will enjoy using them as much as I do.
HOW TO USE THE YOUTUBE VIDEOS:
So, how do I use these videos in the classroom?
We either watch the whole video and afterwards, the children try out the techniques they saw in the video. Or I pause the video and let them try the technique or the new song or piece immediately after they have seen and heard it.
When working with a whole class, I actually find it more convenient to let them read and play from the screen because I can show them exactly where they are and in this way keep the whole class together.
After we have practised it as a group each child gets a copy to practise at home. These they put into a flip file with plastic sleeves. (Copies of the pieces covered in the video lesson are available for free in a link below the YouTube video lessons.)
HOW TO USE THE WORKSHEETS:
As teachers and parents, we know that seeing and trying something only once is not enough. Our young musicians need constant reminders and they need to practise the correct method, preferably right from the start, so that they eventually do it automatically.
To ensure that our recorder students have understood and “conquered” a new concept or technique, I do a follow-up lesson after each video for revision and to practise the new technique, note, song or concept.
I first show them the relevant excerpt from the video lesson.
To avoid having to search for the relevant part in the video, we have now made short videos of the parts that might need repetition. For LESSON 1 you will find the video for fingering here, and the video for correct blowing and tonguing here.
I have also been making extra worksheets for each video lesson. These extra worksheets and pieces for LESSON 1 are now available as a supplementary pack from TpT.
WHAT TO DO IN A FOLLOW-UP LESSON FOR THE EMW BEGINNER RECORDER LESSON 1:
After the first lesson, EMW Beginner Recorder Lesson 1, we need to reinforce the techniques that prevent the recorder from squeaking when our young beginner plays on his/her instrument. This involves fingering and blowing.
With the help of the nursery rhyme “This Little Pig goes to Market” we have established that the little finger of the left-hand does not close any holes. To continue with the theme of pigs I refer to the puffy part of my fingerprint as a “pig snout”. Make sure that your students know exactly where the “pig snout” is on their fingers. Some young recorder players tend to use their fingertips to close the holes. This is incorrect! Instead the “pig snouts” need to close the holes.
To reinforce this point in the follow-up lesson for LESSON 1, you could give your young recorder student an opportunity to trace their left hand, with palm facing up, onto a sheet of paper and then draw a circle where the pig snouts are.
They can even turn the circles into pig snouts as I have done on the worksheet in the picture further up, which is also available in the supplementary pack. If you make use of the worksheet, you can ask them to only colour in the pig snout to make them more aware of where exactly the spot is on their finger.
The other technique they need to remember to prevent squeaking is, that they have to blow as softly and gently as if they were blowing bubbles, as shown in the short video “How to blow on your Recorder”.
This short video also includes the other technique that our young recorder students tend to miss, namely, that they need to use their tongue when blowing into the recorder.
For this technique, I use the “Owl Song”. When using the “Owl Song” as a breathing exercise it is more effective to use an “H” at the beginning, as in “Hoo – Hoo – Hoo-oo…”
However before we play it on the recorder, we must make sure that our young recorder students use the second verse or the recorder version of the “Owl Song” with the “T”: “Too – Too – Too -oo”. Make sure to also whisper or blow it as they would when blowing it into the recorder.
A picture to show them where the tongue must be placed might help them to understand better. I have included such an A4-sized poster in the supplementary pack for LESSON 1. So, the tongue acts like a valve that opens and closes the airflow to the recorder.
After whispering a breathy “Owl Song” without the recorder, your students can now blow it into the recorder and… check if they are using the tongue.
AND NOW FOR SOME CREATIVITY…
Since music is an expressive art form, I think it is good to include some form of creativity. For this reason, and because we haven’t introduced any form of notation yet, I suggest at the end of the LESSON 1 video that the young learner makes up his or her own melody for the “Owl Song” using the thumb and fingers 1, 2 and 3.
For inspiration I have made a worksheet with Miss Piggy’s “Owl Song” which you will also find in the supplementary pack for LESSON 1. If your young student can remember their own “Owl Song” you can help them write it down using the fingering numbers 1, 2 and 3 in the provided blocks. OR they can write 1, 2 and 3 randomly into the blocks under the words, after they have written a 3 in the last block. Their melody will sound finished or completed if they end on 3 fingers.
So,.there you have a follow-up lesson for the EMW Beginner Recorder Lesson 1, which you can find on YouTube. As I have mentioned already, each video lesson also comes with a free practice sheet or song, which you can find in a link below the YouTube videos. I have included the one for LESSON 1 in the supplementary pack as well.
The supplementary pack for LESSON 2 should be out soon. If you are interested in a brief overview of the first 12 beginner recorder lessons you can find it in my post “The Building Blocks in Music” here.
In the meantime, I wish you lots of fun making music with the kids!