Sunday, April 07, 2013


Remember recorders? When I was in elementary school we purchased our first recorder in grade 4 for the ultra low price of $10 I believe. It was a great time. Holding that creamy coloured piece of instrument while walking down the halls announced "Yes I am in grade 4 and we get to play the recorder nah, nah, nah, nah, boo, boo we are better than you grade 3's". But I digress... this is a blog about subbing not reliving my elementary school days.

There will likely come a time in your subbing career that if you decide to accept music positions and you will run into some very unfabulous recorder playing. It is terrible, your ear drums will feel like they are about to explode, and you will feel like you have gone deaf for at least the next 15 minutes after the class is over. Seriously, bring your whistle on recorder days or stand by the light switch because no one can hear anything over that racket.

Obviously, I have been the unlucky recipient of a recorder day in music (and obviously it was a French music class because clearly they are my favourite).

There isn't much you can do in this situation unless you decide to toss the teachers instructions out the window and pop in a movie instead. But by doing this you run the risk of the teacher not really caring for you and not being invited back. Therefore, I do not do this, because I am an awesome substitute teacher.

I am still working on the best technique to solve the problem of the squealing recorder sounds. Perhaps only letting a few students practice at once would solve the problem (but then what would everyone else do - they would likely turn against you and tie you in your chair if they have nothing else to do), you could tell them only the best recorder players get to play today because you want to hear what the music is supposed to sound like (but then you single out all the sucky players and they will likely cry about it). Or you can just suck it up and let them break into partners (or maybe groups of three) to practice the song for 10 minutes so that each partner (or group) can play it for you afterwards.

If you choose to follow my lead (which I am by no means endorsing as the best way) here are some tips:

1) stand near the back of the room and not the front. Often times music rooms are designed (shockingly enough) as music rooms. This means the sound travels to the front of the room. Which means you will feel like your ears are bleeding within the first 2 minutes probably.

2) If you are not satisfied with the back of the room open the door and stand half in the room and half out. Send the students who didn't bring their recorders out to the hall so it looks like you are just keeping your eye on them. Everyone has their recorder? Hide 2 of their recorders so that there will be students out there. Just Kidding... calm down. Tell them everyone will practice but you need 2 volunteers to do something for you. It doesn't matter what you need them to do. Tell them you need a picture of a famous musician drawn and coloured for above your fireplace (they won't know you don't have a fireplace). OR if you are near an entrance to the school and they have double doors send a couple students to practice there and keep an eye on them from the doorway of the music room.

3) You can always use ear plugs if you brought some.

4) Get them to just finger along with their partner for parts of it (when you need a break from all the noise)

5) Fake an illness and get yourself out of there ASAP... bonus points if it requires an ambulance ride to the hospital (this is likely not the best option but if all else fails...)

Hopefully you are feeling a little more confident about your next subbing day in a music classroom during recorder season (which FYI happens sometimes after Christmas break - probably around Easter).

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