Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Recorder, Take Two

Our DIY music lessons have actually been working out pretty well. The girls dipped into and out of the instruments that we have here at home--recorder, violin, guitar, and keyboard--taking weekly instruction from me in whatever suited their fancy at the time, practicing that lesson for the week, and then holding a "recital" of what they'd learned, before picking again.

The lessons are fulfilling their overall purpose in that Willow has decided that she is quite interested enough in violin that she'd like to take formal lessons. Coincidentally (or not?), this is the instrument that, although I play a little, myself, I have the hardest time teaching, and thus I have a lot of newfound respect for actual violin teachers, and not a bit of a problem shelling out for one.

Just...not right this minute. Currently, our kid activity budget, both time- and money-wise, is full up: horseback riding lessons, softball, ballet, chess club, and, in a couple of months, science camp. And, yes, more of those activities are the younger kid's, but an even division isn't really the way it works around here. You do what you have a passion for, that we have a time for, and that we can afford. Sometimes there's a waiting list for one's passion, hence that year that it took to save up for these horseback riding lessons that are so beloved, and so appreciated, right now.

So after science camp we'll have the cash, and the time, for violin lessons, but until then, I wanted Willow to stay in the habit of regular music practice, and I thought that it would save some time and money during her lessons if she already had skills like reading music and clapping rhythms. Thus we're back to the recorder, the easiest instrument for her to learn and me to teach, and so the easiest instrument to make some real, inspiring musical progress in, and to teach related musical lessons with, until violin lessons begin.

Those little $1 recorders work great for the basic notes, but are pretty faulty in the lower register, so I upgraded to a nicer soprano recorder (still cheap enough that I can buy a second one later for duets!). I check out songbooks for the recorder from the library, or I figure out the simple tunes myself ("Hot Cross Buns" isn't rocket science, thank goodness!), and then I pass them on to the next generation:

This week, Willow is practicing a scale that includes all the notes she'll need to learn "Mary Had a Little Lamb" next week. When she knows an entire octave of notes, I plan to add reading music to her studies. We've also been researching woodwinds, in general, and this week in my free time (ha!), I've been working on a set of flash cards to identify members of the woodwind family, from the clarinet to the pungi.

Want to know what a pungi is? Ask Willow!

For our recorder study, we've been using--

--as well as the ideas from my Homeschool: Recorder pinboard. I've found some good fingering transcriptions from the links there, and I think that Willow will enjoy that kid-made recorder case project.

But don't worry...I've got plenty of violin projects planned out, too!


Tina said...

We have a recorder and a guitar at home. I even have a Taylor Swift song book (Emma's favorite musician), as well as a 2nd hand recorder book. Music might be on the agenda for May.

Thanks for the tips!

julie said...

I really have been surprised and impressed by how accessible the recorder is, and what a great gateway it is to music as a whole.

Do you play guitar? Guitar lessons are on my dream to-do list.

Tina said...

Umm, no on the guitar playing. I took lessons as a kid, my dad played in a band, but I never stuck with it. As an adult I have wanted to learn, and my dad gave me one of his old guitars maybe 2 years ago. I bought a tuner recently but even that was beyond me at the time. I think that may be a gift to myself this year for my b-day is a few private lessons to get me started (and get the guitar tuned).