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Reverberations: Teachers Teaching Teachers

Welcome to the January 2019 issue of Reverberations: Teachers Teaching Teachers. Other articles in this issue may be accessed from the links in the At-a-Glance table, and can be downloaded and printed using the included PDF files. Please refer to the AOSA Copyright Policy before printing multiple copies.   

January 2019 At-A-Glance
Orff/Keetman Treasures
Working With a Model
To Improve Recorder Skills

By Carolee Stewart
Elemental Pathways to Ukulele
By Richard Lawton
and Dave Thaxton
Professional Development
Connecting Across the AOSA Community:
2019 Professional Learning Networks

By Laura Petersen and Josh Southard
  Student Teachers
Incorporating Student Teachers
In the Orff Schulwerk Classroom
By Kelly Grace


Working With a Model to Improve Recorder Skills

By Carolee Stewart, Past President of AOSA

In teaching young recorder players, working with models from the Music for Children volumes provides multiple opportunities for students to reinforce and enhance skills. Rondo, #33 in Vol. I, pp. 116-117 is excellent for this purpose because of its simplicity in form and limitless possibilities for development. 

Carl Orff – Gunild Keetman MUSIC FOR CHILDREN, Vol. 1 Pentatonic, Edition Schott 4805
English version adapted by Margaret Murray; Copyright © 1958 Schott & Co. Ltd., London; Copyright © renewed; All Rights Reserved
Used by permission of European American Music Distributors Company, sole U.S. and Canadian agent for Schott & Co. Ltd., London

Learning the recorder melody

Played directly from the page, this pentatonic melody works best on F instruments. If students are learning alto recorder, they can play this melody as written. It contains easy finger patterns that repeat, and it offers a good opportunity for practicing the movement of the left thumb in order to play high C. If students play sopranino and/or bass as well, it could be fun to experiment with different voices.

The rondo can easily be transposed to G Major for soprano recorders. If adapting this model for beginners, the melody can be simplified or altered while maintaining the form and basic melodic and rhythmic elements. Note that beats 1 and 2 of each measure are identical and it is helpful to take advantage of this structural feature when introducing the melody. Below are several suggested simpler examples. It would be best to tailor a melody that addresses fingerings, rhythms or other elements that your students need to practice.

When learning the 4-measure melody that becomes the A section of the Rondo, experiment with different ways of playing.

  • Tempo: eventually the melody should be played “allegro,” but experiment with other tempi.
  • Articulation: play staccato, legato, use slurs; alternate one measure staccato, the next legato, etc.
  • Meter: experiment in 3/4 or 6/8.
  • Transpose to F Major. How would it be played in g minor?
  • Dynamics: While it is preferable not to ask young recorder players to play “louder” or “softer” because it tends to affect pitch, using short articulations can create the effect of softer dynamics. Alter dynamics by increasing or decreasing the number of players. Try alternating solo-group or group-solo every other measure, every two measures, etc.
  • Can it be played as a canon after 2 beats?
  • Create a form that uses several different ways of playing the A section. A theme and variations?
  • Transfer to body percussion; transfer to un-pitched percussion.
  • Add a text.
  • Add movement.

Accompaniment for the A section: The original piece, with its quick tempo, has a rather thick and busy accompaniment. If using a simplified melody, modify the accompaniment to accommodate the skill level of your students. Students can experiment within the appropriate pentatonic scale and find ostinati that support and complement the melody but do not overpower it.

  • How might the melody be accompanied by recorders only?
  • Experiment with texture and color.
  • What does it sound like with a single ostinato accompaniment? Two different patterns? Three?  Etc.
  • Accompany with all metal instruments; all wood instruments.
  • Accompany with all high-pitched instruments; all low-pitched instruments.
  • Accompany some of the melodic variations suggested above. How would you change the accompaniment to fit the altered melody?

Rondo Form: Working within the simple rondo structure (8 measures of A alternating with 8 measures of B), the teacher’s and the students’ creative possibilities have no limit. The whistled, contrasting sections on pages 116-117 appear to be examples of written out improvisations and are meant as suggestions, not for reproducing directly.

  • Learn a simple accompaniment for the B section. Try the accompaniment suggested in the model.  A pedal tone might be enough.
  • Play as a rondo tutti on A, improvised question (teacher) – answer (entire class) on B.
  • Play as a rondo tutti on A, improvised question (solo student) – answer (entire class) on B.
  • Play as a rondo tutti on A, improvised question (solo student or teacher) – answer (solo student) on B.
  • Play as a rondo tutti on A, student solo on each 8-measure B section.
  • Change the accompaniment in the A section so that it becomes thicker on each new occurrence.


  1. Ask the students for words to describe the “allegro” section and list responses on the board.
  2. Then make a second list of words that contrast those that described the “allegro” section.
  3. Divide the class into groups and have the students select one or two of the contrasting words to guide them in composing new sections. Consider including movement.
  4. Create a large form alternating the A section and its newly-created contrasting sections.
  5. Specify instruments or leave the instrument choice to the students.
  6. Specify the meter or leave that up to the students.
  7. Specify the tonality or leave that up to the students.
  8. The end result could resemble the rondo form of the original model, or it could be an entirely new creation.
  9. Use the new piece as accompaniment for a story/drama.

After the students experience this and similar examples of extending a model, they will begin to suggest their own ideas.

Working with a model in this way provides opportunities for each student to create in an open-ended manner, according to his/her interests and capabilities. It allows the teacher to facilitate the group dynamic through close observation, to learn from the students, and to assess their progress. As each student contributes to the activity, the class comes together as a community with mutual respect and a greater understanding of music and its pleasures.

Download a PDF version of this article.

Carolee Stewart is retired Dean of the Peabody Preparatory of Johns Hopkins University, former faculty member in Music Education at Peabody, former choral and general music teacher in grades 5-12, and former AOSA Teacher Educator. Service in the AOSA includes National Conference Chair, The Orff Echo editorial board, Vice-president, and President. Carolee is currently a member of the board of the International Orff Schulwerk Forum Salzburg

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Reverberations - January 2019

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