Submitted by David Platt , Southlake, Texas

Idea posted March 14, 2008

Some of my 4th graders go through the Recorder Karate extremely quickly. I have developed a more difficult process to challenge them based on the Olympics. After they have received their black "belt" (I use colored beads tied onto the bottom of their recorder with yarn), students graduate to a thin piece of leather cord to put all their beads on. They may tie it on their recorder like they did with the yarn or make a bracelet or necklace out of it. Then, they receive their next challenge: bronze, silver, and gold belts.

For the bronze belt, they have to learn "Red River Valley" from Music K-8, Vol. 14, No. 5. They have to play along with the CD and I play part two at the same time.

For the silver belt, they have to play "A Little Recorder Music". They do not have to play the tempo on the CD, but slower and keep the quarter note steady throughout.

For the gold belt, they have to write their own song: 24 measures of 4/4 time; key of G; use quarter, whole, half, and eighth notes; quarter rests; all the notes we have covered (which is low C to high E); and give it an original title that has some connection to the sound of the piece. The pieces don't usually sound very good, but it is all about understanding how to fill measures correctly and play the notes. They have to play their piece for the class. When they do, we have the grand drum roll as I present the gold bead, followed by thunderous applause. I give them the staff paper to compose upon. When they are finished, they give me their original piece. I put it into PrintMusic!, print it out on cardstock (making it frameable), and present it to them with a certificate at their fourth grade graduation.

As they accomplish each belt, they get a bronze, silver, or gold bead that I found in the craft section at our local hobby store. These look metallic and are a real hot commodity.

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