Of course, the boys are being exposed to dance, visual art and music on an almost-daily basis just because of the city we are currently living in and exploring. But, for example, we are not singing or playing a musical instrument as a regular part of the schedule as I had initially hoped we would find time for. In addition to the ever present time stress, there is of course the added complication of limited tangible classroom resources. As we are not really "at home", but only here for a few months, we were limited in what we could bring with us.
The boys and I were delighted, therefore, to recently come across some decent quality recorders at a local store. We rearranged two weeks' budgets accordingly so that we could squeeze a few recorders out of the $, and then I began looking for an app that I could use to facilitate this musical adventure. (I had not brought any sheet music with me in our luggage.)
Preferred Recorder Method for In-Class Teaching
Back home when I am teaching music in a "real" school, I have often relied on Denise Gagne's Recorder Method, "Learn and Play Recorder", put out by "Theme and Variations". A bargain at approximately $40, I love this resource because it is basically idiot proof, and it includes a comprehensive overview about the history of the recorder as well as an introduction to reading music. Best of all, it comes with tracks to play in the background while students are tooting one, two and three-note "melodies". Even a non-music person can have his class playing - and sounding good -- within an hour!
Imagine then my excitement when -- while browsing the app store -- I stumbled across Gagne's recently released "Learn and Play Recorder" app!!! At $3.99 a pop, the app seems like a great deal, assuming it includes everything the original method does.
True to its hard copy counterpart, this app includes introductory material, read aloud, about both the recorder and about music theory in general.
The app also includes music for recorder students to play along with, so that after 20 minutes with my sons and their new recorders, they were playing along to "A and B Blues" and sounding great!
Each piece comes with the sheet music (displayed on the screen), as well as "play", "pause" and "stop" buttons, the latter of which stops and restarts the piece from the beginning.
A Nearly Perfect App!
I have only two complaints about this app.
First, the musical accompaniment only includes the "with recorder" option (the old CD included both with recorder so that students could hear how it was supposed to sound, and then a without recorder accompaniment version, so that students could show the strength of their playing, without relying on the recorder example in the music).
Second, the "fill in the blanks" music theory exercises in the intro matter should be expanded to become interactive. (Currently, the app presents the exercise along with an answer key, but responses must be recorded separately by students, presumably on a sheet of paper or something.)
Apart from these small improvements that could be made to the app, I think Learn and Play Recorder is probably one of the best method apps out there for music teachers, parents and aspiring recorder players alike. It is simple, clean and effective.