Ms. Roxana Han
Detroit Country Day School
Our Detroit Country Day School’s 3rd and 4th grade students play recorders, an integral part of our general music curriculum. I have used Macie recorders and curriculum for over 20 years. My students love having the choice of recorder and strap colors to make a personal combination and earning the stars on their straps for mastering concepts. When the pandemic hit with the stay-at-home order for remote learning last spring, we were so glad that we were already using the “Be a Recorder Star” online program that we could easily transition onto Zoom. Although we could not hear each other, students could still play with the digital accompaniments to practice and record themselves on Flipgrid to receive my feedback. When we had plans to return to in-person learning in the fall of 2020, we had to think of a way to “play” recorders without playing them out loud in the classroom while also fulfilling the most important goals of building self-confidence and ensemble playing. I had taught students practice techniques in the past for when they had a younger sibling sleeping or if parents did not want to hear the recorder while they were working. Students can still practice by reading the music, placing the recorder mouthpiece on their chin, and maintaining the natural posture with the body, arms, while successfully practicing the fingering on the instrument. Instead of blowing into the recorder, students would blow into the air, singing the pitches of the notes while using tonguing techniques. This practice technique and vocalization in masks are the perfect solutions for my recorder classes during the pandemic. We can still hear each other, practice our recorder technique, and automatically practice our singing at the same time while confidently being safe!
In addition to the practice techniques above, I have always used some basic yoga breathing and movement techniques in the general music classroom. This year, it was more critical to help students learn proper breathing techniques as well as to help calm their minds and lessen any stress. Students bring their yoga mats to class every day, spacing out the necessary six feet between them. We listen to various musical examples while students lie on their backs on their mats focusing on the support of the earth and the straightness of their spine. After listening, we use yoga inspired movements in coordination with breathing to bring awareness to diaphragmatic breathing, build core strength, use balance postures, relax and stretch the stress muscles, including the neck, shoulders, and hips.
The combination of the practice techniques, singing behind masks, and breathing exercises creates a positive atmosphere where all students feel good about learning, achieving goals, and playing together. When the weather becomes nicer, we look forward to doing all this outside with our Bluetooth speaker and actually playing the recorders with the “Be a Recorder Star” digital accompaniments!
Biography: Roxana Han is a wife and mother of 3 children ages 14, 12, 7, a general and vocal music teacher, and the 4th/5th grade choir director at Detroit Country Day Middle School. She has 24 years of teaching experience in both public and private schools, K-12 music and 4-12 grade French. She received her BA in Music and French from Kalamazoo College and her M.Ed degree from Cambridge College. She was a J. William Fulbright teacher 1997-1998 at Gwangju Soon-Il High School in South Korea. She is a pianist, violinist and vocalist, participated in orchestras and choirs when living in France and Korea, and loved learning the Korean Chang-Gu drum and playing in the drum ensemble. In her spare time, she loves to travel with her family, practice yoga, and walk with her dog, Hugo.