Being Creative With Recorders!
In the last post we discussed some fantastic apps for fun and engaging ways to learn and perform the recorder. Since we like to emphasize creativity on this site, let’s consider some related issues. One of the most creative and engaging ways for young people to play instruments such as the recorder is by creating their own music.
Some children might enjoy creating their own notation for their music to share with others. (See the book Can I Play You My Song?: The Compositions and Invented Notations of Children for excellent information on this topic.) Others might want to compose their music using a program such as Noteflight.
When it comes to children creating their own music, it’s often more important that they have the opportunity to create what they like without having to worry about writing it out accurately or at all.
Many people who teach recorder rely on systems such as Recorder Karate and similar apps such as Black Belt Recorder, that award “belts” as young people complete performance tasks. While these types of approaches might encourage young people to practice playing the recorder, their focus on rewards and external motivation can result in young people being less creative with their musical engagement (See Amabile et al. 1986).
Janice Smith (2008) studied how elementary age children created music on the recorder when given different types of tasks. She found that having the children select a poem and create music to that poem lead to what others thought were the most musical compositions. She says that “setting a poem text with regular phrase lengths is a good way to promote initial compositional success for young composers” (p. 171)
For many people, the traditional route of playing music from method books is the most comfortable when starting children on recorder. We encourage you to explore some of these other approaches but when it comes down to it – do what works best for you and the children in your lives.
If you are in a context where multiple children are sharing recorders or are concerned about germs you might consider using some type of instrument disinfectant spray.
Have you tried any of the approaches discussed here with young children? What did they think of the apps? What works best for the children in your lives?
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Amabile, T. M., Hennessey, B. A., & Grossman, B. S. (1986). Social influences on creativity: the effects of contracted-for reward. Journal of personality and social psychology, 50(1), 14.
Smith, J. (2008). Compositions of elementary recorder students created under various conditions of task structure. Research Studies in Music Education, 30(2), 159-176.