The Sound of the Recorder

This week in my class, my grade four students had their first lesson on the recorder. I know what you are thinking….musical bliss fills the room and everyone is transported to an elevated level of happiness. Unfortunately, day one of the recorder doesn’t quite bring up those feelings. As the students are still learning breath control and finger placement, day one sounds closer to possibly the worst sound that can be produced by 25 children simultaneously. Since I have been teaching recorder for a couple of years now, the day one sound no longer phases me and I know that after a couple of lessons the recorder will sound more like music and less like noise. However, this week I had an unusual experience on day one of the recorder with one of my grade four classes.

On Thursday afternoon, my last class was preparing for the very exciting first blow into the recorder. I reminded them about not blowing too hard, putting your left hand on top, covering the holes and away we went. One of my students, who is hearing impaired, quickly took the recorder out of his mouth and made a very pained facial expression. I went immediately to him and asked what was wrong. He told me that the noise was too loud. We spoke for a few minutes and we decided that he would move his chair across the classroom and try the lesson from there. We played for another 10 minutes or so and I checked in with him again. He told me that he was getting a headache from the noise so we put our recorders away for the day and switched over to playing a game about the staff.

After the class, I immediately spoke with the classroom teacher and asked for the contact information of the consultant who is familiar with this student’s case. We had a meeting the next day where we both brought up concerns around damaging the child’s hearing further and the ability to limit the noise but still continue to hear the teacher. During the meeting we came up with a few strategies that I could use to minimize the impact of the sound. I also had a meeting with my vice principal to ensure that he was allowed to go into the hall to work with a partner if he needs break from the sound (which is not common practice at my school).

Tomorrow, I will bring all of the strategies to my student to be discussed further. It is important that he have input into his learning and that he not feel like he is being excluded from the classroom. I will ensure that he has a lot of choice and that we can change things at any time if it is not working for him.

Finally, later this week, I will be calling home to discuss the plan of action and to inform the family of his reaction to the recorder which may be important in their next meeting with their audiologist.

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The Author

Tammy Axt

I am a music teacher at Red Willow Public School in the Peel District School Board. I love supporting students through the creative process and grooving to music! My interests include running and trying to learn how to ride a motorcycle.

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