Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Monster Recorder B-A-G Rhythms

My fourth graders began learning music notation last year. They are doing a great job at identifying notes. We have been playing Around the World - Treble Staff, so I know they can name the pitches. I wish they were doing as well at producing a pleasing tone on the recorder. I know they will get there. We just haven't had a lot of time in class to work, yet.

I wanted a quick way for them practice and for me to assess and assist, as needed. I created a quick monster-themed PowerPoint filled with 4-beat rhythmic slides. I assigned letter names to the notes, so I students could practice fingering and playing B, A, and G. I'm usually a stickler for reading the music and don't allow them to write letter names in their books. I usually want them reading the notes, instead of letters; but this time I was more concerned with helping them improve their tone and articulation.

I created three different levels of Monster Recorder B-A-G and began using it this week. We began with Level 1, which keeps each 4-beat rhythm on one pitch. It was easy to spot students who were playing the wrong pitch, either due to fingering the wrong pitch or not completely covering holes.

Here is the procedure we followed this week: (I'm sure I'll tweak this as we go.)

  • Students read and fingered the rhythm silently
  • All students played the example once
  • We identified issues with rhythm or pitch and then played it twice in a row.
  • Groups played examples, so I could more easily identify specific students needing help. (I have divided my class into 3 groups. They numbered off in their order, so no one sits by a neighbor in the same number group. I use this system often, because they can hear themselves better and I can focus on fewer players at once.)
Level 2 increases the difficulty by having examples that include more than one pitch, but all movement is stepwise.

As my students improve, I plan to use Monster Recorder to play a game. I'll divide the class into two teams and have individuals from teams play. They can earn points. I'm thinking of this point system:
  • 1 point for correct rhythm (but not all pitches or pleasing tone)
  • 2 points for correct rhythm & pitch OR rhythm & tone (problem with pitch or tone)
  • 3 points for proper rhythm, pitch, and tone 

Level 3 steps it up another notch and adds leaps between B and G. All levels use pretty basic rhythms, which include quarter notes and rests, half notes, and eighth notes.

Each level is available in my TpT store, as well as a bundled set available at a discount. You can find them here:

Happy Playing!


  1. Hi there Laura! Can you email me? I have a question for you :)

  2. the procedure must have been really convenient for the kids with so mcuh to learn in an easier pattern. you are doing a great job

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