Recorder karate in action

Heather Webb makes music fun

30 minutes in a classroom- music

Thirty minutes in a classroom continues with Development Associate, Journalism, Prasanna Bista visiting the junior school music rooms. Do you remember learning to play Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star on the recorder when you were in school? Well at Woodstock teacher Heather Webb has introduced Recorder Karate! Read Prasanna's story on how learning music has become so much fun.

It's 12. 30 in the afternoon at Woodstock. As people head towards the lunch room in the quad, sounds of melody and harmony can be heard from the top of the music building. To trace the origin of the music, one must climb up a flight of stairs, walk past the music practice rooms, and climb up another set of stairs leading to the top floor of the music building. The epicentre of the melody can then be discovered in a room known as Studio 59. But it isn't senior school students nor the staff musicians that occupy the room, it is the eager faces of fifth grade students that greet the visitor who enters their sacred sanctum. Guided by the ingenious methods of Mrs Heather Webb, junior school music teacher, students are able to harness their potential and develop talent in reading and playing music.

"The students are eager to learn and seem to really enjoy music," said Mrs Webb. Fifth graders are given an opportunity to learn multiple instruments such as the recorder, xylophone, drums, glockenspiel and the metallophone. The class begins with a warm up song, played on the recorder while Mrs Webb helps to guide the students by assisting them with the piano or by singing along to the warm up. It is a moment of harmony where ten young students and a teacher work together to create music. The air is vibrant with rhythm, co-operation and melody attained through practice. Followed by the warm up song are other songs that allow the students to choose between several instruments. "I try to keep them moving and play different instruments," said Mrs Webb. The students switch their roles from time to time allowing them to gain a command over multiple instruments. The class is comprised of enthusiastic faces of students from India,South Korea, America, Nepal and Tibet. "They are a little nervous when playing for their peers but they know the music," said Mrs Webb.

Although they learn multiple instruments, the main focus of the class lies in the mastery of the recorder. The students follow a system known as "Recorder Karate" to improve their skills with the recorder. "There are ten belts in Recorder Karate, white is the lowest and black is the highest," said Mrs Webb. In this structure, the students attempt to earn belts through their music. This is done by memorising and practising the music for the belt that is one level above the student's current belt. "It is just like the karate system, but with music," said Mrs Webb. To achieve a white belt, students must be able to play a song known as "Hot Cross Buns." As the level of the belt increases the songs grow more challenging. To be awarded a black belt, fifth grade students must memorise the song "Ode to Joy" and be able to play all the other songs from the previous belts, with the music provided. "All of the fifth grade classes have earned at least a brown belt and eight have earned black belts," said Mrs. Webb. The students achieved their belts in a time span of two quarters. "That's pretty quick, in the school I taught in before, it took the students a whole year," said Mrs. Webb. "There has been a tremendous amount of progress and the students really enjoy the music," she added.

The class has not only provided the students with instruments but also curiosity, passion and a hunger to improve upon their current skills. They are able to play individually and in sync with one another. Together they create music that displays both their practice and potential. One visit to their class highlights their passion and gusto when it comes to music.

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