At the 2019 Wisconsin Music Education Conference (A Look at the Nuvo Recorder + and Dood)

Greetings! I am writing this while looking out at Lake Monona at the 2019 Wisconsin Music Education Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. I am using personal days to present two sessions on Ukulele while I’m here, and the sessions were organized/scheduled by Peripole for me.

As I have mentioned, technology in elementary is more immediate to me as I am now teaching elementary. I saw a number of plastic instruments from Nuvo, and decided to buy two of them. The first is the Nuvo Recorder +, which has silicon pads to assist students who may not be able to cover recorder holes with their fingers.

It’s a great idea, and pretty well priced (about $15). It may not sound as good as the Peripole Halo, but it serves a different purpose.

The other item is the Nuvo Dood, a reed instrument with recorder fingerings. The reed is plastic, and I can’t wait to play on it. As a brass player, I have never owned a reed instrument, so this is me to me…and my embouchure needs help!

I made a short video…and uploaded it here on location. I hope it uploaded correctly and the link works!

If you are at the convention, find me and say hello! I have another session tomorrow at 10am in rooms M to P.

A BLE MIDI Recorder on KickStarter…

The cookies that are tracked on my Facebook brought The Artinoise re.corder to my attention the other day (I use Facebook to stay in touch with ukulele and elementary music education resources).

If you look at my previous post, you will see that I just used technology to create a pre-white belt audio sample for Recorder Karate. The only acoustic part of that process was my own recorder playing. It would have been so much easier to use a digital instrument for that process.

The idea of a MIDI wind instrument isn’t new…and several models have been around for quite some time, and there are some BLE MIDI devices as well, such as the Roland AE series. I know some other companies have considered BLE wind instruments, but the cost of such a digital device is REALLY hard to justify. For example, you can buy a very nice plastic recorder for under $15 (far less, but let’s factor in shipping for a single unit). Are you going to want to spend $200 on a digital recorder? Probably not.

When the Re.corder was advertised, I took note. Admittedly, even a year ago, I wouldn’t have paid it that much attention, as I was a secondary teacher. Now that I am teaching elementary, and am currently prepping recorder resources for my 3rd and 4th graders, my priorities have shifted.

The Re.corder promises to be useful as a acoustic wind instrument (to be honest, I’m not putting a lot of faith in tone quality in this mode), to be used as both an acoustic instrument and a digital instrument via BLE MIDI, and to be able to TURN OFF the acoustic mode and simply play via digital instrument.

To be honest, as a teacher, you had me at “And a digital instrument.” As a parent, you had me at “TURN OFF the acoustic mode.” I didn’t reach for my wallet as the KickStarter had not begun, nor was pricing announced.

Well, the KickStarter began today. In fact, here’s the link (and no, I am NOT getting any referrals for the link):

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/888369457/the-recorder-reinvented?ref=89vnoq

The funding video is cheesy. I don’t know any teenager that is going to steal her elementary brother’s recorder–or a father that will do the same. But it does make the point that everyone should like this instrument.

Now that the KickStater is underway, the pricing is intriguing. The company is in Italy, so prices are in Euros, and the Early Bird pricing is 55 Euros for one of the recorders, with standard purchases starting at 62 Euros. Shipping to the US is 12 additional Euros. At the current exchange rate, that’s $75 to $83.

I didn’t know what my threshold would be for what I’d be willing to spend, but now that I see the prices, I think my threshold would have been $100. This is below that amount.

As a teacher, if the instrument can display my fingers on the screen to an entire class, that’s worth it. If any of the instrument’s dedicated app functions can be used with my class playing along on acoustic instruments recorders, that’s worth it. And if I can made digital recordings straight to my own devices without having to go acoustic, that’s worth it. So yes, I signed up to back this device on KickStarter this afternoon.

Furthermore, if a content deal can be reached with Music K8 (e.g. putting all of the Recorder Karate literature, as is, into the included application), that would be a further reason to purchase the device. Please note: this is NOT promised. I’m just “thinking out loud”

I don’t see a teacher buying a classroom set of these. But I do see these as a great potential purchase for a teacher.

Now…to be honest, if I’m a parent…which I am…with another son a year away from starting recorder…I might also be willing to spend $83 to not hear the recorder being practiced at home. I don’t think I’m alone. A parent was a substitute for our school office manager, and she talked to me about how excited her daughter was to start recorder. She said, “We’ll see how I feel about that in a few weeks.” It was said in a humorous fashion, but we all know there is truth to all humor.

And of course, there is this (this was posted on Facebook):

I’m excited about this product, for its potential, and for what seems to be an accessible price point. Sadly, they won’t ship until April 2020 at the earliest…but I’ll be bugging the company and I’ll see if there is anything I can do to check one out before release.

Bringing Recorder to the 21st Century

A couple of years ago, I was a guest on the OokTown Podcast, as the host, Stuart Yoshida, had mentioned in a previous program that the ukulele should replace the recorder. While I love (and I mean LOVE) the ukulele, I had fond memories of recorder, and I see its value in teaching the ability to read notation, to allow people to make music, and to prepare students for the possibility of band. So I wrote Stuart about this, and ended up being on the show, defending the recorder.

Fast forward to Fall 2019…I am now an elementary music teacher, preparing to teach recorder for the first time. I’m thrilled to start recorders soon. We have taken orders for student recorders (incidentally, we’re going with Peripole Halo Baroque Soprano Recorders), they’ll arrive soon, and we’re going to start. While I have heard about the method for years, we’ll also be following the Music K8 Karate Recorder program.

That said, there are some things I wanted to add, and some other resources, such as songs out of Don Muro’s “Easy 8” and “8 More ‘Easy’ Songs” that fit in the Recorder Karate sequence.

What I’m doing is I’m bringing these materials into video format to use in class, with multiple versions of the song in the same video (e.g. demo, performance with moving boxes, performance without moving boxes). I’d love to be able to share the videos–but I cannot as the material is copyrighted and doing so for my personal use is okay–but I cannot share these on YouTube, as I do my ukulele materials. With the ukulele materials, the copyright holder receives the revenue. There is no such format for Music K8 to receive that ad revenue…so this work stays private…and NOT on YouTube at all.

With rare exceptions…

As I am supplementing materials, I am occasionally going to have to write or create my own “song” to fill a need where Recorder Karate or Don Muro’s books have a gap. For example, I wanted some songs to lead up to the first belt of Recorder Karate, and Don Muro’s books introduce rhythms and meters for the note “G” that Recorder Karate does not approach until a later time. I can still use Don Muro’s work later…but I can’t use them when I want to. So I had to write my own song.

And since I wrote my own song, I can publish that on YouTube, so that you can see what I am doing. I wanted students to practice jumping between B, A, and G, so I wrote a little melody using the note values they had been introduced to, created an accompaniment with iRealB on my iPad, recorded myself on the recorder via GarageBand on the iPad (don’t be too harsh on my playing), and made a video. The only thing I included from Recorder Karate is the second slide showing the notes and rhythms, as I wanted the same font for all the videos with this material…but I have modified this material as well.

I am going to have some challenges ahead…I need alternative songs for the religious material in Recorder Karate (When the Saints, Amazing Grace, Ode to Joy) as well. I will give students the choice to play the existing songs in the method or to play an alternative song (I’ll just say that religious songs have been a hot topic behind the scenes in our district as of late).

Music K8 has a ton of great resources…I loved their ukulele song packs as well, and asked them if they would like me to make play alongs of them…and I never heard back. I’d offer them all of the videos I make of Recorder Karate–but I’m not sure they are offering that format.

I’m convinced that the use of video in instruction is essential in today’s world–our students are learning so many things through video, and it meets them where they are at…and videos like these can help bridge them to traditional formats as well. Yes, it takes time to create these videos…but it reaches them where they are at, and also become a force multiplier in the room…I can help students while the others play with a video, or we can even try centers with the videos in the future. There’s even the possibility that they could practice at home with the videos if they were contained in a non-shareable private/walled garden environment.

So…here is my creation of “Jumping Around” which is the last video that I’ll use before my students go for the White Belt of Recorder Karate. Look at the description of the video to know where to jump in the video.