Can a bunch of recorders and drums save music? That’s the question.
Recorders and noise instruments are extremely popular in schools. Specifically these instruments are used to teach performance, and of course, ‘composition’ and ‘improvisation.’ How exactly is this done? It seems like the writers of this curriculum know, but I can’t think of how they can! These instruments are the least suitable of all for teaching music and its language.
I’m not at all against the development of a sense of rhythm, and I’m not against drums. In fact, I’m very much for them! But let’s, once and for all, separate that which is important from that which acts as accompaniment. The ability to translate sounds into music notes and vice versa is what is essential to an effective musical development. Rhythm is only part of the music context, and shouldn’t be taught out of context. The development of rhythm within a noise orchestra develops rhythm in a noise orchestra, and nothing more!
As for recorders, they are useful in only two ways: they are simple and cost very little. Even though playing an instrument like the recorder can teach memory and even to read a melody, it is only in the most primitive and one-voiced way, only in the Treble Clef and in a tiny range. You won’t learn much about reading notes here. Also, while playing to sheet music on the recorder, the student can’t sing along with the melody and develop a clean voice that can sing in tune. And who continues to play the recorder after graduation? Only the rare few – those that have a special interest in the instrument and were likely not in need of much musical development, being born with a ‘gift.’