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4 Steps to Master the Recorder
By West Music Company
8/14/2015 8:49:00 AM  
The recorder is a woodwind instrument similar to the clarinet and flute that produces a soft, airy tone. Its size and ease of use makes it a great first instrument for beginners or anyone with a desire to make a sound of their own. Anyone can learn the recorder by following these 4 easy steps:
1. Purchase a recorder. West Music has a wide selection of inexpensive plastic recorders – this is a great place to start – eventually you can move up to a full wood model. They will almost always come with a protective sleeve or pouch and sometimes include an instructional book.
Maintaining a recorder is very simple: wipe it down after playing, disenfect whenever possible, keep it dry, and keep it in its protective case when not in use. If you follow these easy rules your recorder should last a lifetime.

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2. Learn how to hold the recorder and make sound. Once you have your recorder, the next step is making sure you’re holding it properly. Like all woodwinds, the sound produced is heavily influenced by how the instrument interacts with your mouth and hands. Your left hand should be positioned closest to your body. Make sure the side of the mouthpiece with the hole is facing upwards (towards your face). Hold it gently between your lips and balance with your fingers – don’t bite the mouthpiece or touch it to your teeth.
Next, blow into the recorder and see what kind of sound you get. Don’t blow too hard or it will sound very harsh and unpleasant. Try to produce a smooth, consistent air flow to get a more musical sound – this is one of the most difficult, but important techniques to focus on as you begin to learn the recorder. Focus on breathing from your diaphragm, not your mouth – this will help you keep the sound consistent.

3. Learn correct tonguing technique. Your tongue is the most important tool you have to play the recorder.  Each note you play should start and stop with your tongue. Imagine you are saying “doot” or “dud” as you play the note – this will help give your notes a clear beginning and end.
At this point you’re ready to play your first note. The first note people usually lean is B. All you have to do to sound a B is to cover the back hole with your left thumb and the very first hole (closest to your body) with your left index finger. Now, gently blow into the recorder, remembering to focus on a steady air flow from your diaphragm and mouthing a “doot” or “dud”. How does it sound? If you hear squeaking, make sure your fingers are fully covering the holes and that you’re not blowing too hard. Keep working on your B until you’re comfortable moving on to a new note.

4. Learn the fingering chart. Some recorders will come with a fingering chart like the one below, if yours didn’t, they are very easy to find on the internet. Work on learning which combination of fingers produces each note, and vice versa – which note you are producing based on your fingers. Learning any song you want will be much easier once you have a basic understanding of all the notes your recorder can make.
Using the chart below, give these simple tunes a try:

Mary Had a Little Lamb:
        B A G A B B B
        A A A
        B D' D'
        B A G A B B B
        A A B A G
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star:
        D D A A B B A
        G G F# F# E E D

Ok, so you may not be an expert quite yet, but with these tips and some quality practice, you’ll be a recorder master in no time. Just remember, if it doesn’t sound quite right at first, don’t give up. The greatest musicians in the world started out just like you. You can accomplish great things with perseverance and determination.

If you think you're ready to take your skills to the next level, West Music offers professional lessons at each of our six locations. Click here to sign up for individual or group lessons at the West Music nearest you!

Tags: recorder, learn recorder, easy, beginner, woodwind, fingering chart, simple
Categories: Recorders, Music Education
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Everyday Recorder, Recorder Everyday!
By West Music Company
5/21/2015 9:59:00 AM  
Author: Michael Chandler

The recorder is an important part of a quality music education for children. As a simple, elemental instrument that children enjoy playing, it fits easily into their hands and doesn’t require endurance or highly developed technical skills. It adds another beautiful way for children to make music in addition to singing. Children can MOVE while playing the recorder, carry it with them, and use it to improvise and compose their own melodies while learning notation skills.

In order to be successful playing the recorder, children should have opportunities to play often during music class throughout the entire school year with engaging activities and materials that seamlessly integrate the instrument into other music making activities such as singing, playing Orff instruments, and moving. Everyday Recorder, Recorder Everyday! Is a collection of original recorder lessons I’ve successfully used over the years in my own classroom to accomplish this goal. Simple folk melodies from around the world, proverbs, and other traditional materials provide starting points for student improvisation and composition.

Ten sequential lessons progress note-by-note while giving equal attention to music literacy, playing by Rote (by ear), improvisation, and composition. Each lesson provides opportunities for children to reinforce skills and concepts from the musical elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, texture, expression, and form through the music media of singing, rhythmic speech, instrument playing, and movement. The pedagogical sequence will be familiar to teachers with Orff Schulwerk training but is also easily accessible to teachers trained in other active music making approaches.

An innovative and unique feature to Everyday Recorder, Recorder Everyday! is the CD-ROM which accompanies the book containing interactive visuals for every lesson in three formats: SMART Notebook™, Promethean ActivInspire, and Microsoft® PowerPoint®. With or without an interactive whiteboard, teachers can enhance their instruction by projecting the visuals in their classroom. The visuals are meant to utilize technology so it doesn’t take away from the students’ time making music with their voices, instruments, and through movement.

I hope you enjoy the lessons in Everyday Recorder, Recorder Everyday! as much as I have enjoyed teaching them and sharing them with you!

Tags: Michael Chandler, recorder, orff, schulwerk,
Categories: Recorders, Music Education
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Playing with Improvisation: Technology with Integrity in the Orff Classroom
By Lisa Sullivan
1/6/2015 10:51:00 AM  
Lisa Sullivan

I tend to be a very practical teacher.  I have found that pieces work well for me when I can use them at multiple grade levels and in different ways.  This is the essence of Playing with Improvisation: Technology with Integrity in the Orff Classroom.  This resource comes out of 26 years of teaching K-5 students.  My students enjoy the chance to improvise on recorder and barred instruments and the more structured improvisation opportunities I can give them the better!  The goal of this resource is to give you dynamic, animated visual presentations (Microsoft PowerPoint) that will guide students through a musical journey with each piece in the collection.  The ultimate goal is to keep your students making music!

You can use this resource with barred instruments only or bring in recorders.  Either way, you can use the pieces in order or you can pick and choose as they fit into your curriculum.  There are two complete lessons plans and a Microsoft PowerPoint slide show available for each piece, one for barred instrument improvisation and one for recorder improvisation.  In this collection you’ll receive a total of ten pieces, each in both barred instrument and recorder versions, developmentally sequenced beginning with simple so-mi songs and progressing to the full do pentatonic scale.

These teaching pieces have been successful for me in my classroom for many years.  It is my pleasure to share them with you.  I think you’ll find they bring solid learning and joyful, musical play to your classroom as well. 

Lisa Sullivan

Tags: N/A
Categories: Orff, Music, Books & Resources, Recorders, Music Education
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"It's Time For Discriminate Listening!" Lynn Kleiner Talks Recorder Quality
By West Music Company
1/6/2014 3:23:00 PM  

Lynn KleinerAs a well-known Orff pioneer and creator of recorder curriculum, Lynn Kleiner certainly knows a thing or two about the difference a quality recorder can make to a school curriculum. Hear what she has to say!

"As a recorder teacher since 1978, I am aware of the increasing number of choices teachers have to select a brand of recorder. I have also noticed that the quality of different brands of recorders varies widely. I have heard inferior recorders that are out of tune, with horrible tone quality that remind me of the old days when the tonettes were the elementary melody instrument of choice, instead of recorders. That poor sound quality classified those as toys, not instruments. I think we need to evaluate this objectively by having two groups of players, one with a known quality recorder and the other with a suspected inferior brand, and then shout “LISTEN, EVERYONE! There’s clearly a significant difference in sound quality that we observed!” Well, I think it would obvious; no one really needs to shout.     

My early recorder training led me to be very particular about the choice of recorder not only because the price difference is minimal but the quality difference is dramatic and greatly affects the performance experience.  I was taught in my Orff-level training that the type of recorder for students should be the best quality plastic recorder possible so the child can hear an instrument that is in tune with itself, with the other players, and has the best tone quality. Young students don’t need to be burdened with the issues inherent with a wood recorder, such as cracking, humidity, and swabbing.

It is also important for the teacher to demonstrate good tone and intonation to the students by playing an instrument that is of high quality and in tune. For the last 31 years, I have had an after school recorder ensemble (We were fortunate to have the opportunity to perform at two AOSA conferences and one MENC conference!). We played the same quality brand of all sizes of recorders for the best possible ensemble blend.

For those of you reading on, here’s another issue that I struggle with in teacher training environments. My beginning recorder lesson is one of my favorite lesson plans of the year and includes a number of exotic birds in my story (yes, I teach recorder using a number of stories). In order to play my “Weird Birds” piece, you must have the head joint alone, playing the mouth piece without the body of the recorder. I work with tonguing, breathing, and improvisation in a way that can foster success for the first time player.  Then I hear teachers say “I can’t take the top off my recorder, it’s all one piece!” Students should have at least a two piece recorder; however, if you are going to get to the low C in your recorder classes, I suggest the 3 piece recorder so the students can adjust the foot piece. 

I hope teachers have the opportunity to make side-by-side comparisons to select the highest quality within a target price range.  Yes, you usually get what you pay for, but in this case, sometimes paying a little more will get you a whole lot more!

What do I like?  I have enjoyed both the 3-piece Aulos and Yamaha recorders in my schools."  

Lynn Kleiner’s recorder workshops and lessons are available online at www.lynnkleinersmusicbox.com.

Tags: lynn kleiner, recorders, orff
Categories: Orff, Kids & Movement, Recorders
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Keeping the Recorder Fresh!
By Tim Wiegand
8/28/2013 12:10:00 PM  

A very special thanks to Tim Wiegand for contributing this article.

We all know the benefits of using the soprano recorder as a tool for young students to learn to read music proficiently.  We also all know what a group of eight year olds sound like when they first blow into the instrument!  Teaching recorder to beginners is certainly a labor of love, but the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is absolutely worth it.  After a few weeks of practice and training our students begin to read simple melodies, recognize notes on the treble staff, and they begin to combine reading rhythm and melody for the first time.  While they are limited in their range, they are still performing a very complex task, reading music!

I remember my own experience learning the recorder for the first time.  As a percussionist, I had very limited skills.  I took my Orff levels over 13 years ago; Sue Mueller was my recorder teacher.  She asked us to describe our recorder ability by choosing a category.  Humming Birds (Advanced), Road Runners (Moderates), and Coyote (Beginners).  I fell into the Coyote category.  I remember how joyful it was to improve my skills and partake in Sue’s wonderful lessons.  I was blown away by how practical this instrument was.  Students could surely pick it up quickly and I was eager to begin teaching recorder at my own school.

About two years ago I realized that my recorder unit was becoming a bit dry and it was time to seek out some new strategies and materials.  We were doing way too much sitting and playing and not enough singing, dancing, and creating.  So I began to compose some modern accompaniment music that kids could relate to, with big drums, heavy rock guitar, synthesizers, lush orchestral strings, and even some techno beats.  I wrote some rap lyrics that taught my recorder rules, and created some high energy dances.  After the students got a taste of my new activities, they wanted more and I wanted to provide them with more!  Singing, Orff instruments, creative movement, vocabulary, literacy, computer visuals, and partner games were all to follow.  I realized that I had a new curriculum on my hands.  Maybe even the start of a Recorder Revolution in my music room!

Browse our Recorder Instruments, Packages and Accessories!

Check out Tim's Recorder Method for the Orff Classroom!

Tags: recorders, tim wiegand
Categories: Recorders
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Back to School with Soprano Recorders!
By Judy Pine
8/1/2013 12:54:00 PM  
Untitled Document

It’s the time of year to be thinking about when and how you will be teaching soprano recorders to your students. Some teachers use recorders all year long, interspersed with their lessons every day or week. Other teachers use the unit approach, teaching how to play soprano recorders for a certain length of time every year. Choose which way fits your curriculum and teaching style and go for it!

Soprano recorders may be the very first and only real musical instrument your elementary aged students may ever own. This is mainly because the finger reach to cover the holes on the recorder are small enough for a child’s hand and the price is right for tight budgets. Recorders are a wonderful means to teach music literacy, as the reading of music relates directly to reading of the written word. Reading of musical notation while performing on an instrument or singing is a cross-brain activity which builds brain connections and strengthens neural pathways.

Once the fingering of the soprano recorder is understood, this knowledge may be easily transferred to the different sizes of recorders. Here are the five of them in order from smallest to largest, (click for more information):

They all use the same fingering but are set in two different keys as mentioned above. The lowest note on the soprano and tenor recorders is C and therefore they are in the key of C. This same fingered lowest note in the sopranino, alto and bass is an F so they are in the key of F.

Generally for the young beginners, plastic soprano recorders are best as said before, the finger reach isn’t too long and the price is right. Ease of play and consistent tonal quality are two key factors when choosing instruments for your students.

If you need assistance in choosing the right recorders for your classroom or ensemble, give us a call at 800-397-9378 or email us at service@westmusic.com. We’re here to help provide you and your students high quality instruments at an affordable price.

Tags: recorders, soprano recorders, west music catalog, 2013 west music catalog, 2014 west music catalog, judy pine
Categories: Recorders
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Always have your wish list ready!
By Judy Pine
5/2/2012 3:08:00 PM  

It’s the end of a busy week and your principal contacts you to say he/she has found some funds for your program, but needs your wish list by the end of the day--and it’s already 3:00 pm!  While it’s exciting to hear this financial support has come to your program, what IS your wish list and HOW do you have it prioritized? 

I would recommend you have two lists at your fingertips at all times.  The first is an inventory list of the type and condition of instruments and resource materials in your classroom.  Do those 10 pair of maracas (that were in the room before you took this job) need to be replaced and if so, do you really need 10 pair moving forward?  Here’s an example to get you started!

South Elem. Inventory List (May 12, 2012)

Qty. Type of Instrument Condition More Needed? Approximate Cost?
2 Pair of finger cymbals Need new elastic straps No  
15 Pairs of rhythm sticks 10 pairs ok, 5 pairs to replace 5 to 10 pairs $1.50 each
2 10" frame drums New in 2009 10 more would be great $13.50 each x 10=$135.00
2 12" frame drums New in 2010 10 more would be great $16.75 each x 10=$167.50
10 PR maracas 4 pairs broken, 6 more than enough    
1 Soprano glock? Not sure if it's an alto or soprano, missing F#'s 1 new one with all bars $195.00 for an alto
1 Alto Xylophone Bars sound flat, maybe needs new tubing?   $26.00 for 4 yards of cording
1 Conga drum New in 2011    


With the inventory list above, you’re ready to spend that $200.00 from your principal within five minutes, as you know the condition and quantity of your instruments!


Then the 2nd list to have ready to go is your Wish List!  This is the list of all the instruments and materials you wished were in your classroom(s) in order to really give your students the music education experiences they need.  Be sure to find approximate costs so that when time is limited you’re able to put together your wish list in order of preference with reasons why all of these items are important to your student’s education.  Here are a couple of ideas to get you thinking about how additional instruments and materials can help you and your students achieve their goals in your classroom. 

Option #1:

South Elem. Wish List #1 (May 12, 2012)



Type of instrument


Cost each

Extended cost




Soprano glockenspiels




West Music of course!



Alto glockenspiels




West Music of course!



Fiberglass soprano xylophones




West Music of course!



Fiberglass tenor/alto xylophones




West Music of course!



Fiberglass bass xylophone




West Music of course!



Tenor/alto metallophone




West Music of course!





Additional thoughts…

Or maybe call West Music and ask if they will help us with a custom package of the above instrument for even greater savings!

Rationale for this wish list.

In the summer of 2011, I was able to take Level 1 Orff Schulwerk training at ABC University.  The above list of instruments would allow those new skills to be incorporated into every classroom. With an average of 26 students per class period, this assortment of instruments in addition to what is already in the classroom, allows every student the opportunity to play something every week.

Or perhaps you are interested in adding some drumming to your classroom…this is what your wish list might look like:

South Elem. Wish List #2 (May 12, 2012)


Type of instrument


Cost each

Extended cost



10" tunable/tubanos




West Music of course!


12" tunable/tubanos




West Music of course!


14" tunable/tubanos




West Music of course!





Additional thoughts…..

OR, would it be better if I purchase the West set of 12 Remo tunable tubanos and a Ngoma for $2392.35.  Let's go for that one!


Get your lists together now, so you’re always ready when anyone approaches you with some new source of money for your classroom! Remember the knowledgeable staff at West Music is ready and willing to create your ideal classroom any time. Just give us a call or send an email. We look forward to hearing from you!

To create your West Music Wishlist, please visit us online.

Tags: wish list, classroom wish list, financial support, inventory, new instruments
Categories: Band & Orchestra, Orff, Classroom Furniture & Equipment, Pianos, Digital Pianos & Keyboards, Drums & Percussion, Guitars & Folk, Kids & Movement, Music, Books & Resources, Recorders
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Some Q&A about The Isabel McNeill Carley Orff Essentials Collection
By Anne Carley
5/2/2012 2:53:00 PM  


isabel mcneill carley orffA special thanks to Anne Carley of Brasstown Press for contributing this article.

Some Questions and Answers about The Isabel McNeill Carley Orff Essentials Collection

What Are These Books? • The Isabel McNeill Carley Orff Essentials Collection is a four-book uniform edition, created in 2011. Three of the books are fresh new editions of Isabel McNeill Carley’s series, Recorder Improvisation and Technique (a/k/a RIT One, Two and Three). Rooted in the Orff Approach, all three books emphasize ensemble playing, creative improvisation, and the joys of making music. The fourth book is entirely new. Making It Up As You Go – Selected Essays: Writing about Music, Improvisation, and Teaching contains 21 essays by Isabel Carley, newly edited and organized into a collection of her words and wisdom.

Purchase Isabel McNeill Carley's books at WestMusic.com

What is Recorder Improvisation and Technique? • The RIT series – Books One, Two and Three – is unique.  RIT thoroughly melds the Orff Approach with the use of recorder – in improvisation, in ensemble playing, in rhythmic training, in composition.  From the beginning, there are songs for the student to play, improvisations to nurture the musical imagination, and ensemble materials to deliver the excitement of rhythmic layering and patterning.
The three RIT books present carefully planned lessons in playing the recorder, learning to improvise, ensemble musicianship and speech, movement and compositional form. The books have been the texts for many Orff Certification Courses in North America and elsewhere and are cited in the American Orff Schulwerk Association's own "Supporting Materials - Sources" for recorder instruction.
The RIT books are vital pedagogical resources for the Orff approach to lifelong music education. They can be used in classroom or lesson settings, for children, teens and adults, because so much of each lesson results from the interactions between teacher and students. The lessons provide a carefully designed framework, intended to be adaptable to each group.
As new notes are introduced, exercises in ear-training and technique precede specific assignments in improvisation. Folk songs and dances and short pieces arranged or composed for recorders and Orff ensemble supplement the exercises.
Isabel Carley’s inventiveness, stepwise approach and thoughtful collection of traditional music from around the world provide teacher and students alike with the roadmap for a fearless exploration of rhythm, listening, playing, notation, improvisation, ensemble, practice, recorder technique, ear training, theory and, most of all, the joy of making music with others.
The 2011 uniform editions of RIT One, Two and Three retain the content of the previous well-known editions, but are completely re-typeset and redesigned, in a larger format, with the addition of more reference materials, a Table of Contents, and an updated, fresh look. Companion materials, including more beginning recorder repertoire, are planned for release later in 2012 as e-books from Brasstown Press. 
What is the progression from RIT One through RIT Three? 
RIT One • From simple echo and call-and-response using two notes, RIT One immediately brings teacher and students together in ensemble playing. Improvising comes gradually and naturally as confidence and complexity both increase. By the end of eleven lessons, the notes from low C to high G have been introduced, along with C, G and F pentatonic scales and modes. 
Eleven tightly integrated lessons introduce soprano recorder repertoire and technique.  Each lesson includes improvised and collaboratively composed exercises, making the process dynamic and spontaneous.  Not limited to simple major tonalities, RIT One introduces pentatonic scales, including minor modes.
RIT Two • When RIT Two transposes the fingerings and modes to the alto recorder, students are comfortable with the patterns and adapt easily. The book, an introduction to the alto recorder, is based on the previous pentatonic fingering patterns learned on the soprano. The full major scales (F, C, G, and Bb) are freshly presented through improvisation, innovative exercises, and new repertoire. Extended improvisations, more thickly layered arrangements, and longer compositional forms are explored.
RIT Three • RIT Three shifts freely between alto and soprano recorders, while exploring the riches of musical traditions from around the world. The book explores other diatonic modes for the recorder, concluding with advanced shifting-chord techniques and paraphony (parallel movement) examples. These examples are both historical and improvisatory for the student.
What Is the Role of Improvisation? • Improvisation is the through-line for the three RIT books. By the end of RIT Two, students have astonishingly broad experience with improvisatory techniques drawn from the history of western music as well as world-music traditions. By the end of RIT Three, not only are students skilled recorder players, but they understand compositional forms, and have become confident, inventive improvisers.
What’s in the Essays Book? • Making It Up As You Go – Selected Essays: Writing about Music, Improvisation, and Teaching includes new versions of familiar titles known to many readers of The Orff Echo and the two Orff Re-Echoes volumes, and an important article on hand drum technique first published in Orff Canada’s Ostinato.
Significantly, nearly half the essays are new work, previously unpublished, from Carley’s handwritten manuscripts, typescripts and computer files. Grouped into three sections, Origins, Practicum, and Exhortations, the book provides a wealth of information and opinion from the life of a smart, dedicated, Orff teacher.
Who Was IMC? • As the first American honors graduate of the Orff-Institut in Salzburg (1964), a co-founder of the AOSA (1968), and editor of The Orff Echo for its first fifteen years, Isabel Carley was one of those first-generation North American pioneers who established the Orff approach on this continent.
She taught preschool and school-age children, as well as adults. She wrote, edited and composed extensively, and was an active member of the AOSA. She performed in and led ensembles for early and world music. She taught at Orff certification courses, presented at AOSA, MENC and other conferences, and always advocated for student-centered, creative education. She retired from teaching in 2004, after 40 years in Orff-Schulwerk.
What was Isabel Carley’s vision for the RIT books? • While still in Salzburg, she identified the need for a more integrated approach to using the recorder as an essential part of the learning experience in the Orff classroom. She produced the first editions of the RIT books thereafter, for use in her classes at Barbara Grenoble’s University of Denver Orff certification courses in the 1970’s.
“The emphasis is on playing with the materials of music, on developing musical ideas, just as a composer does. In this way, music comes alive as an immediate and stimulating activity for children. Their participation and their own ideas are being explored and developed. That is why it’s so important to include real choices for the children – and for the teacher, too.” - IMC
What Is It Like To Teach from the RIT Books? • I can say a bit about my own direct experience. Although I used her methods for recorder instruction when I taught private lessons, during the late 1960’s, my first opportunity to really get to know Recorder Improvisation and Technique arrived almost ten years later. I was a junior instructor at the Orff Certification course at the University of Denver in the mid-1970’s led by Barbara Grenoble.
In Denver, beginning with RIT One, I used the book to teach teachers - temporarily students again - a way to introduce recorder and improvisation to their students back home. Some of my pupils were classroom teachers with little or no musical training. Others were quite accomplished musicians. To their credit, they were open-minded enough to trust that a young person like me might have something useful to share with them. More importantly, they came to see how adaptable their new knowledge would be for them.
My mother took another section of the same introductory class, teaching at a more accelerated pace, and with more complex detours along the way. It is a testament to the book itself that both of our classes worked our way to the end of RIT One by the end of the (three-week) Level I course. All three of the RIT books lend themselves to nearly infinite adaptability this way.
The books are structured as short lessons. One lesson can last for multiple class sessions. The keys to getting the most out of an RIT lesson include paying attention, active listening, and trusting the process.
The lessons are already elegantly planned, with plenty of room to expand, or to blast through, depending on available time and resources. What the teacher of an RIT lesson needs is, simply, confidence. Not only are you teaching improvisation, but you are improvising as you go. Relying on a bedrock of meticulous pedagogy in each lesson, you are initiating, responding, listening, trusting, adjusting, and above all, enjoying your interactions with the people in the class. The RIT lessons are effective when the living, breathing, connections among you and your students - whether they are children or experienced adult musicians - have space to develop. I found that the best preparation for a day’s teaching from these books was a good night’s sleep the night before. The more present and open to inspiration I could be, the better the day’s classes would go.
Describing her approach to applying Orff Schulwerk to North American students, Isabel Carley wrote, “I have attempted to construct a new kind of [American] curriculum, one that keeps repeating key activities, but with a difference each time. [This means] new suggestions, new demands, new contexts, new combinations of movement, of speech, song and accompaniments, using body percussion, unpitched percussion, and one or two bar instruments – whatever seems appropriate and the class is ready to play with.”
How Do the RIT Books Fit within the Broader Curriculum? • RIT One focuses entirely on soprano recorder, with speech, movement, Orff instruments and unpitched percussion. RIT Two introduces alto recorder fingerings and repertoire and theory, starting with parallels to soprano recorder fingerings and then immersing more in alto recorder. The emphasis is more on alto recorder in RIT Two, although there are many exercises and pieces to play with parts for both. RIT Three is, completely, intended for people comfortable switching back and forth between the fingerings.  Some parts are designated for one or the other instrument, but the book does not favor one or the other. Repertoire in RIT Two and Three covers the full ranges of the C and F recorders.
Can I Teach Myself Recorder with the RIT Books? • Find a partner or small group to use these books. They work with two or more people. So much of each lesson is about listening and interacting, through improvisation and ensemble playing, that it is necessary to have at least one other person working the book with you.
A Personal Note • My connection to each of these books is, well, complicated. I taught from these books during the 1970’s and early 1980’s. Then I came to own and operate the publishing company.
Brasstown Press, publisher of the four books in the Isabel McNeill Carley Orff Essentials Collection, was founded by my parents, James and Isabel Carley, in North Carolina in the early 1970’s. When she retired from teaching, my mother asked me to take the reins from my father and her. Since then, my husband and I have owned and operated Brasstown Press. In that capacity I served as editor and publisher for new editions of the three RIT books, and for the collection of essays, published for the first time in 2011.
We began this project of republishing the RIT books, and editing her essays into a companion book, in the spring of 2011, while my mother was alive. We anticipated a relaxed production schedule. That schedule accelerated dramatically in July of 2011, when, shortly after approving the new version of RIT One, just off the presses, Isabel Carley passed away. Through my grief, I saw that the American Orff Schulwerk Association’s annual conference, to be held in Pittsburgh in November 2011, would be the single best opportunity to pay tribute to my mother’s memory and professional contribution to the Schulwerk.
I felt more than ever a responsibility to honor her lifetime of work as a music educator, and make these four important books available, in their updated editions, to be a vibrant representation of her contribution to the Schulwerk in this country. Long story short, we made the deadline, and all four books were out by the fall of 2011. I was very pleased to see four stacks of books on display at West Music’s store in the exhibition hall at the AOSA conference in Pittsburgh.
These books really are special. I invite you to experience them!

Tags: Isabel McNeill Carley, Orff, Orff for recorder, Recorder Improvisation and Technique, RIT, RIT One, RIT Two, RIT Three, Making It Up As You Go
Categories: Orff, Recorders
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Hot Jams for Recorder
By Jim Solomon
1/4/2012 10:14:00 AM  

As a player of basic guitar chords, I’ve often jammed away on simple chord progressions.  Through this process melodies have emerged. HOT JAMS for RECORDER with Guitar and Drum is the product of these emergencies! Well, okay, I realize that’s not a correct use of “emergency,” but you get the idea. Teaching elementary school music full time, and working with middle/high school students every summer has allowed me to test my favorite pieces with real players.  It is literally a thrill when they grab a piece and bring it to life. 

HOT JAMS contains 15 recorder pieces accompanied by guitar and drum. “The recorder parts are appropriate for upper elementary school through adult. Many of the guitar chord progressions are standard, a few are unusual. They are all playable by Teachers using basic chords. Some are also appropriate for student guitar players (page 3).”  

The enclosed CD has two recordings for each piece: one with all instruments (“Full”), and the second with all instruments except recorder (“Accompaniment”).

Improvisation is featured in five pieces.  There are tried and true teaching suggestions for developing improvisational skills. The longer I teach, the more convinced I am that we need to begin improvisation (and composition) immediately with our beginning players.  This gives them the tools to create music on their own time, instead of being locked into playing only songs they’ve been taught.

The progression of note introduction in my 4th grade beginning recorder classroom is a combination of two standard approaches. We begin with C2 (high C) to A in the first class, then add D2 in their third class. Using C2 to A allows students to compose and improvise with two notes immediately while performing a mechanically simple finger movement! After they have composed their own melodies for familiar rhymes with those notes, we switch to B, A, G.  After that we add E as soon as possible. The notes of the first piece in HOT JAMS are B, A, G, and E.

I hope HOT JAMS for RECORDER provides your students many opportunities to make music come alive!

Tags: Hot Jams for Recorder, recorder music
Categories: Music, Books & Resources, Recorders
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Exciting products and a catalog retrospective
By Jordan Wagner
9/9/2011 11:29:00 AM  

West Music's Judy Pine and Melissa Blum walk us through a retrospective of past West Music catalogs, leading up to our brand-new 2011-2012 catalog. The catalog is jam-packed with 186 pages of products to nurture your student's musical education.

In addition, Judy and Melissa share their personal favorites from the catalog! For more information on these products--or to order--go to www.westmusic.com!

Tags: West Music catalog, new catalog, catalog video blog, retrospective video blog
Categories: Band & Orchestra, Orff, Classroom Furniture & Equipment, Pianos, Digital Pianos & Keyboards, Drums & Percussion, Guitars & Folk, Kids & Movement, Music, Books & Resources, Recorders, Music Therapy
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