Thursday, March 17, 2016

Differentiating the Recorder

Oh recorder.  I have such a love/hate relationship with you.  I actually enjoying teaching it only because I don't.  Let me clarify: I don't explicitly teach each and every skill, note or fingering.  I teach a mini-lesson, then my students work in small groups and teach each other.  I observe.  I test.  I correct.  But mostly, I get out of the way.
 
I think it's really important to get out of the way in music.  In trying to keep everyone on the same page, we do more harm than good.  I have kids who will zip through the book in two weeks, while others struggle to make it through two pages in two weeks.  My job is to challenge students and engage them wherever they are.
 
 
My students have been using an altered version of Recorder Karate for some time.  I like the structure of Recorder Karate alot, but I find the songs aren't enough of a challenge for most of my students.  So what do I do with those kids who zip through the book?  I simply differentiate their instruction.   They get another book with the same songs, but this time there are harmony parts for each song.  The advanced student plays alongside the struggling student.  They earn the belt for the song at that level and an additional belt for learning the harmony part and helping a friend.
For my struggling students, I also differentiate instruction.  Have you ever had a student that just couldn't learn a song?  They get stuck and no amount of tutoring or peer help seems to help them overcome the hurdle?  It happens to my students as well.  For those students, they get an alternative song.  It teaches the same skill as the first song, but sometimes students need a change.  Sometimes they need a familiar song, or a song with a different rhythmic structure.  Sometimes, they just need to be lifted up and a different song with the same skills can make them feel special.  

I created the Differentiated Recorder to meet the needs of all of my students.  No matter what their level of development, each student can be challenged.


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