Although it may be old and a bit strident, the flute has many advantages for musical education. Other instruments such as the ukulele or keyboard are more expensive or less portable
Unconsciously, the recorder is related to musical teaching in school, and it does not always receive positive comments. It tends to be considered a second-rate instrument. Perhaps there is a great ignorance or we get carried away by the topics about what really happens in the classroom.
Music is made up of three fundamental elements which are rhythm, melody and harmony. All should be practiced in the classroom. This is where the teaching of the recorder comes into play: to work on the melodic aspect, the flute is the ideal instrument, since it allows to influence the tuning. In addition, being able to play different melodies in a very short time makes the duration of the teaching-learning process shorter and at the same time very rewarding.
This process must be combined with the work of the voice, which is different and just as important. For all this, the preparation of the teaching staff is necessary: they must know the basic aspects of interpretation to teach this process in a correct and guided way.
Spain is not a country with a great tradition with this instrument, as Austria or the Netherlands are, for example. In that sense, we play at a disadvantage in terms of the instrument’s social projection.
Cheap but raucous
At a practical level, and transferring it to the reality of the classroom, experience tells us that it is a cheap instrument that can be used in centers where students have fewer economic resources and facilitates that these students can interpret music and enjoy the sensations and benefits that it produces.
With regard to the inconveniences that we can find when choosing the recorder, the sound is sometimes strident and unattractive for students, especially in its beginnings. The material with which they are made (plastic) greatly influences this. However, for this reason they are so inexpensive. In addition, it is considered an ancient instrument and currently the student body shows a preference for others such as the ukulele or the keyboard.
Other possible instruments
The question is always the same: Is there no other instrument other than the recorder? The answer is yes.
As we have just explained, due to the advantages it has, we believe that it is not appropriate to eliminate it. But we find other possible instruments: the keyboard and the ukulele. Both are harmonic and you can work on another of the elements that make up music, harmony.
However, the economic investment that a school should make in keyboards so that each one could have their own during the music course schedule is considerable. It is not feasible for students to carry him on their backs on the days they have music class. And, finally, its learning is more complex and requires time that is not currently available in the course load. Perhaps that is why its use is sporadic and is not widespread.
With regard to the ukulele, we find ourselves in a different situation: there are some didactic proposals. During the covid-19 pandemic, it has been seen as an ideal alternative to the flute due to the emission of the air column that, in this case, does not occur; also, because of the possibility of playing it individually. Contact when picking up the drumsticks to play commonly used instruments (plates and percussion) has been unfeasible, and has been proposed as a possible and effective option.
As an advantage we can say that its transport is more comfortable than that of the keyboard. But the economic value of the instrument means that, compared to the flute, it is discarded in disadvantaged areas.
The more variety the better
In the purely aspect of their usefulness in the classroom, the three instruments are good options, since each of them works on musical aspects that are necessary in the overall training of students.
The melody can be worked with the recorder and the voice. Harmony with the ukulele, reed instruments and all those with which several sounds can be played at the same time. And finally, the rhythm, an essential element, with percussion instruments (including the body).
Answering the question of whether it is essential to teach music with the flute, it is not, but it is advisable. The fundamental thing is that, in addition to acquiring musical concepts, students can experience what it means to perform music in a group, the sensations that are produced in our body when this happens and develop something that is innate in all human beings: music.
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