Oftentimes beginning in the third or fourth grade many children are introduced to playing a musical instrument through the recorder. For some children this is their first experience with actually producing music. It is an exciting opportunity for some yet drudgery for others. But the experience does allow the child to learn about music, learn reading basic music theory, hold and play and instrument and be involved on both an individual and group level.
The recorder is affordable either for the child’s parents or for the school system. The instrument is very sturdy. Most of the recorders for children are very colorful which most children appreciate. The majority of recorders made for children are produced in one piece so that there are no pieces to be lost. The recorders are easily cleaned and may even be washed in the dishwasher. This ability for the recorders to be cleaned and sanitized allows schools to reuse recorders.
Classes learn to play the recorder as a group. This allows the child to feel very comfortable in learning along with his peers. Fingering is fairly simple and allows the child to soon play simple tunes that he recognizes. It is a very rewarding experience for a child to be able to learn to play music and to understand that he may move on the other instruments if he is enjoying the experience.
Recorders have been used in elementary schools for years. I don’t know how many children continue to play the recorder or if they may develop a fondness for them later in their life but the recorder is a wonderful instrument for these first steps to music appreciation and involvement.
Studies have shown that music does enhance learning in many ways. Basic music theory involves counting, keeping a rhythm, organization, reading skills, recognition skills, pattern acknowledgement and so much more. Beginning to play a musical instrument also demands practice and self discipline. Manual dexterity is also required.
Along with the educational and developmental benefits of playing a musical instrument an appreciation of music is developed. Oftentimes a few of the first tunes a student learns are actually classical pieces from composers that they may recognize or will be introduced to later in life. Sometimes children first recognize these tunes from watching cartoons, then they learn to play the tune, then later they hear the tune as part of a performance in music appreciation class.
Hopefully this first musical experience is a positive experience. Acknowledgement of this experience and encouragement of the parent is crucial. Understanding the elements of the experience is beneficial for the parents to offer the child such encouragement. This small experience may lead to large benefits for the child’s learning as well as offering an enjoyable skill.