Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Recorder Karate

I was working on this post before the craziness of the end-of-the-year began and realized I never finished!  Even though we have been on Summer break for awhile now (woohooo!), I thought I'd go ahead and tell you a little bit about our 5th grade recorder program.  

Each Spring, 5th graders have the privilege of participating in the "Recorder Karate" program. It is one of my favorite units to teach because the students love it so much! Recorder Karate is a motivational recorder program that encourage students to learn to play the soprano recorder with proper technique while allowing them to work at their own pace and be rewarded for their hard work. 

They receive a packet of music that has 9 pieces that are increasing in difficulty. Each week we will work together as a class or in small groups to learn the pieces in their packet. Students may work ahead as far as they would like and when they feel confident, they may "pass off" a song to earn a "belt." 


The "belts" for the Recorder Karate program are colored yarn tied to the end of their recorder.


Each time they earn a belt, they will sign their name on the corresponding poster in the hallway outside of the music room. This is a great way to track their progress and show growth. Their overall goal is to earn their black belt by the end of our unit in May.  Of course, many of them do not get all the way to the black belt level.  However, even if they do not earn all 9 belts, they can set their own individual goal and still show growth and feel accomplished.


Here are the posters at the end of the year...


Our black belt students (or the "ninja squad" as they like to call themselves): 
 

After each of these students earned their black belt, I took a picture of them in front of the black belt poster and their picture was shown on the morning announcements the next day.  The students really enjoyed the special recognition and the whole school kept up with who had earned their black belt! The black belt students also get to perform a special song together at their 5th grade graduation ceremony.  Although listening to "Hot Cross Buns" 46823796734 times is exhausting, I look forward to Recorder Karate all year and so do my students!  ;)  It is very rewarding to see many of them begin to realize their musical potential and go on to play instruments in middle school band.

12 comments:

  1. I love this! I am definitely stealing it for this school year. Do you teach something different from the "Recorder Karate" during whole group, and let them check off songs while they work in centers or small groups?

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    1. Thanks, Melissa! I start recorders in 4th grade with an 8 week unit on basic technique and B, A, G. For 5th grade, we learn a new piece from Recorder Karate each week (whole group, small groups, or partners) and I save the last 10 minutes for testing. I usually have them test individually so that I can really hear their tone quality and so they get used to playing by themselves. Students who need extra help or those who want to move quicker can come and test during their "homeroom" time. I hope this helps! :) Thanks for reading my blog!

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  2. We do this for string players as well and what I really like is the posters b/c if you have a huge program you can eliminate the yard aspect of it, but still have the awesome walll of fame.

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    1. Thanks Jennifer! This set-up does lend itself well to any group of instrumentalists! :) I try not to make it a competition between students but each student focusing on reaching their individual goals. The other students in the school love tracking their progress as they walk by the posters each day.

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  3. Where did you find the letters to spell our RECORDER KARATE? I have all the other cute recorder people from the dojo website. Thank you!

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    1. Hi Amy! I just did a google search for "karate font" and can't remember exactly which website I used but here is one similar: http://www.dafont.com/karate.font. :)

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  4. I'm curious... How often do you see your students and when do you start Recorder Karate with them?

    Thank you,
    Jenny Myers
    Jerry Ross Elementary Music Teacher

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    1. Hi Jenny! I see my students on a 4 day rotation for 50 minutes. I usually start basic recorder technique/BAG with 4th grade and then we do Recorder Karate second semester in 5th grade. :) Thanks for reading!

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  5. Love this! Thanks!! pinning on pinterest!

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  6. What kind of materials/curriculum do you use for the weeks prior to Recorder Karate?
    Thanks!

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    1. Hi Jennifer,
      So sorry I am just now responding to your question. The weeks prior to Recorder Karate, we focus on reviewing how to read the lines and spaces on the staff. I basically just do a lot of games/centers to allow the students to really practice their recall. :)

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