Making teaching fun

As a music teacher who teaches a number of instruments and ensembles, I will confess that I don’t really enjoy the recorder. I don’t mind a tuneful Baroque ensemble in small doses but teaching beginners who gleefully blow out shrieking pitches at a high decibel levels during their weekly lunch time club does nothing to alleviate my stress levels on a busy teaching day. Strangely, the recorder group is very popular, and my pupils dutifully arrive armed with their enthusiasm and their ear-splitting instruments. Who am I to turn away such dedication?

My group really enjoy playing along to accompaniment and bombard me with requests to create custom backing tracks; writing new pieces for them and creating easy duets to differentiate between the more advanced and the complete newbies has brought me to the point where I am beginning to publish.

My starting point is a book of seven pieces entitled: ‘Concert pieces for busy teachers – Beginner Recorder’.  The first piece is called ‘Time to Chill’ and includes a recorder melody line and four backing tracks. There is a simple piano accompaniment and a full accompaniment which is lovely to use in a concert or performance setting once the pupils know the piece well.

Please help yourself to the sheet music and try it out with your pupils. I will be creating a post about teaching ideas with these resources in case you are completely new at teaching the recorder or would just like a few ideas.


Here are the links to the backing track downloads; I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed creating them! Please leave me some feedback and comments.

Piano with recorder part:

Piano backing only:

Full instrumental backing track with recorder part:

Full instrumental backing only:


Backing tracks created on Logic ProX for Mac. Sheet music created on Pages for iPad and illustration on Paper by 53.


Auria DAW

I bit the bullet and forked out the money for this awesome Auria app; and awesome it is. Music making on the hop has just got a whole lot better for me; a brilliant DAW at my fingertips, ready to use.

It all started when my partner came up with a great little guitar riff which I recorded and then emailed to myself; as I was doing reports on my iPad, I didn’t feel I had the time to invest in turning on my Mac and hooking everything up in Logic Pro; I just wanted to have a fiddle during a break from work. GarageBand, although I love it, has limitations and the ability to import audio via email is one of them. After a bit of searching around, lo and behold, I found Auria. A hefty price tag at £34.99 but the gods were smiling on me and it was on a half price sale; I easily managed to find many ways to justify the purchase to myself. I also threw in Audioshare,  Audiobus and a free reduced version of SampleTank.



Auria is very pleasing to look at, and reminds me of Cubase VST in my PC days, except no sound card issues and it runs beautifully on my iPad 4. Being able to zoom in and edit audio, literally with my fingertips, is just brilliant; it’s just a quick change to get to the mixer. It was easy to connect SampleTank and Auria together via Audiobus and I recorded some beautiful cello into the mix via my connected MIDI keyboard.

 I opened up my email and imported that guitar riff that started this whole journey and was easily able to edit it and work out the BPM. Next, I found a GarageBand drum loop; I was able to share the GB project with Auria (thanks Apple for finally allowing App sharing) and added lovely piano via free IGrand app. After a quick mix-down and email to myself so I could play it back in my car and have a critical listen, I am super pleased with the results. Wow, wow wow!! Gorgeous sound quality, great volume and all wonderfully mobile.

I’ll be putting Auria to the test this weekend; my recorder group at school needs some backing tracks to enhance their pieces for next week’s Christmas Concert. I’m no great lover of the recorder, but my pupils love coming to rehearsals and love it when I write music for them and give them a track to play to.