It was my privilege to work with the RBI team at TMEA 2016 in February. As I set up my section of the Rhythm Band Instruments booth space, I spent some time recollecting about the more than thirty year history that unites our two companies. In 1983, Rhythm Band Instruments placed my newly developed "Beat Bag" Series in their music education catalog. As Rhythm Band Instruments and BLB Studios worked together during our first decade, my primary responsibility was to create support materials that would help music educators and interested group leaders utilize the instruments purchased from our catalog with their students. I was often called on by RBI to present workshops, both at conventions and for music teacher inservice meetings, around the country. This relationship continued until 2009 when I retired from the classroom and joined the RBI staff as their Elementary Music Specialist.
I have had the honor to represent Rhythm Band Instruments in many of the states that make up our nation. A passion for sharing the uplifting power of music with their students is a common thread of attendees wherever I present! It is passion that encourages our students to move beyond the basics of learning into the educationally coveted higher critical thinking skills of evaluation and creativity. This attitude of passion that is found in many music classes is supported by both the instructor and the content of the music under study. It is no wonder that students who participate in both group and individual music instruction often demonstrate the highest aptitudes for learning in all of their studies. What a joy it is to know that the work we do as music educators is fundamental in encouraging our students to succeed in their educational pursuits.
Since 2009, my passion in music education has been the development of animated music instruction programs. I began animating successfully with my students in 2000 when I moved to a school that focused on using technology in instruction. My first animations helped students to learn how to play the soprano recorder. As I manipulated these animations directly from a computer keyboard, I began to track a noticeable improvement in concept mastery with my beginning players. I also noted the difficulty of student- teacher interaction during these early lessons as I was tied to the computer, physically directing the animated instruction. By 2005, I had developed a crude system of animation that required less physical input from the instructor. Finally in 2010, I developed a totally independent delivery system for my recorder animations. By combining the power of eight different software programs, I was able to create digital movies of my animations that did not require an instructor's manual operation.
These two animated programs offer a sequential presentation of my most effective general classroom lessons for the soprano recorder. My usual practice was to introduce GETTING STARTED (BB216) in the first term of the school year with my fourth grade classes. After mastering the B, A, and G notes, the included theory studies, and the complete song repertoire presented by the animated lessons, my young players would then be expected to recognize and perform these notes on their recorders when encountered in the literature we studied during the rest of the year. In a similar fashion, the lessons of MOVING ON would be introduced and utilized throughout the fifth grade year of study. Armed with the six notes studied in the series and a full understanding of the function of music notation as clarified by the animated presentations, my students were ready to interpret most melodies we encountered in our studies.
With the advent of less expensive professional quality recorders such as the Aulos 903B (available for less than $5.00 from the RBI catalog), students today can perform high quality concerts by playing the repertoire from the BLB animated recorder series and utilizing the included CD performance tracks as accompaniments. The links below present the scope and sequence of the GETTING STARTED and MOVING ON lessons. I believe you will find that your students will be motivated to learn and perform with competence and enthusiasm as they interact with this visual, aural, and kinesthetic material.
(Video review for GETTING STARTED WITH SOPRANO RECORDER)
(Video review for MOVING ON WITH SOPRANO RECORDER)
That's Brad's Beat for March, 2016. Next month, I will review the Bell series animations from Rhythm Band Instruments. Don't hesitate to call on RBI for support as you continue your important efforts teaching music to the children of our nation. We share your passion for helping the children of the world learn to express themselves through their experiences with music!
President, BLB Studios
Elementary Music Specialist, Rhythm Band Instruments