Playing recorder is rather complex and it is often an area where significant modifications and accommodations are needed in order to meet the instructional needs of ALL students.  Here is a quick list of the modifications and accommodations that I use most frequently.

1.  Preferential Seating –   I can often make quick adjustments for those who need it, simply by making sure that they are close to me.  Sometimes this is as simple as pointing to music or being able to quietly repeat the instructions

2.  Recorder Buddies – I’ll often have another student who is making good progress on recorder be a “mini-me”.  They can sit next to the student in need and call out note names or model fingerings

3.  Time for independent practice – One of the best ways to keep students progressing without frustrating those who need more time is by using independent practice wisely.  I have a silent practice rule in my class.  I’ll assign different groups different songs to practice.  Then they take turns playing in small groups out loud for the class.  This allows me to provide more support to those who need it.

4.  Note Labeling – Generally I don’t allow students to label the notes in their recorder books, but when a student needs the support, it can be very helpful and provide another avenue for practice.

5.  Note name calling – Sometimes students can play at speed who might not be able to read at speed.  If I call the note names to those who need it, they can play what everyone else can play.

6.  Finger modeling – Sometimes I will model the correct finger positions during a particular song which allows students see what to do instead of worrying about reading it.   I use this sparingly.  I want them to continue to develop literacy, but if they don’t get to “play” they might give up, so it’s important that they develop sound as well s literacy.

7.  Letter reading – Often students who cannot read traditional music notation have no problem reading letters.  If you use “letter notation” you can get them to progress pretty far along.  Dashes can be used to determine the length of the note and rests can be incorporated as needed.

8.  Big is often better – I have enlarged copies of the book we use because for so many students, simply making the print larger enables them to read real notation.  This works really well in tandem with my projector.

9.  Personalized music – Sometimes I create music just for specific children in mind.  This is especially useful if there is a para-professional who travels with the student as they can work with the student who has a personalized book side by side with the class.

10.  Alternate instruments – Sometimes in order to accommodate for the physical limitations, you can use alternate instruments.  All soprano recorder music can be easily changed to xylophone.  There are even recorders designed for children with at least 6 fingers that can be adjusted to fit their abilities.

Here is a link to the adaptive recorder