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Recorder Karate



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Recorder Karate
By Barb Philipak
Book and CD  
45 pages
Grades 4 - 5

A beginning recorder method using 9 folk songs and familiar tunes; each piece is progressively harder than the last. Students are motivated by the goal of earning "karate belts" (not included) - a different color for each song they master. The author suggests using your own short pieces of embroidery thread to make the "belts", so that students can tie the different colored "belts" around the bell of their recorder as they earn them. Guidelines are given if you have other copy-permissible songs that you would like to use with the Recorder Karate teaching method. 

Copy-permissible pages include:

  • student song sheets and a cover page so that each student can have their own songbook
  • informational pages on the history, care, holding position and playing technique for the recorder
  • fingering chart; informational pages and worksheets for rhythms and notation
  • recorder quiz
  • "black belt" award sheet
  • sample letter to parents
  • attendance and progress charts
  • fun clip art. 

Each song sheet gives the pitches used, the number of beats or measures of introduction on the included CD, 1 verse of the song with lyrics underneath (no lyrics for Ode to Joy) and new concepts that are featured in that song. The first time a new note is used, the fingering for that note is given at the bottom of the page. 3 songs (When the Saints Go Marching In, Amazing Grace and Ode to Joy) also have separate "concert version" song pages, featuring longer arrangements with repeats or 1st and 2nd endings (notation only is given on these pages). Hot Cross Buns also has a page for using Orff instrument accompaniment. 

The included CD has 23 tracks of simple recordings to help in the practice and testing of the tunes. Each tune is first heard as a full recording followed by 1 or 2 versions of the accompaniment only; for the first 5 songs, the first accompaniment version is slower and the second is faster. CD tracks 24-29 feature special concert versions of When the Saints Go Marching In, Amazing Grace and Ode to Joy. The arrangements are slightly extended and each song has a recording of the full performance as well as a separate track with the accompaniment only.   

Recommended for grades 4-5, but can be adapted by using your own songs for younger or older students.

Note Progression: B, A, G, E, D, high C, high D, F#.


  • Hot Cross Buns
  • Gently Sleep
  • Merrily We Roll Along
  • It's Raining
  • Old MacDonald Had a Farm
  • When the Saints Go Marching In
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
  • Amazing Grace
  • Ode to Joy
  • Concert Versions (3 songs)
  • History of the Recorder
  • Hot Cross Buns- Orff arrangement
  • Merrily We Roll Along- Iconic Setting


No reviews available.


Recorder Karate
Already Asked: 2 Questions, 26 Answers
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West Music Store asked: Why did you choose this?
Lara W: SUCH A GREAT HELP IN TEACHING RECORDER! The kids like the challenge of earning belts, and I like the way they've laid the program out. The songs aren't too terribly difficult either - it's a nice progression in learning. Apr 29, 2014
Amanda E: This is one of the best recorder resources. I've taught it with children in Afghanistan and Uganda. Children from all over the world are highly motivated to learn new songs and earn their recorder belts. This is the best solution to introducing recorders to new players. Nov 5, 2013
International S: My kids love earning "belts" for the new techniques and songs they learn. This is a great starter program for teaching recorder. Oct 15, 2013
Phil M: Very successful even if you choose not to award the belts all of the way up to black. I use this in combination with several other books and I write some of my my own songs too (Mr. Merritt's Mama's March #1, etc.) May 16, 2013
Dave H: It's a great way to teach music to elementary kids. Mar 6, 2013
Karen S: A teacher-friend uses it. I want to decide whether to have students purchase it. Nov 5, 2012
Cristina W: Very fun and very easy to teach! Sep 19, 2012
Meghan B: I like that this book is goal oriented and students can work at their own pace. I've started using it and the kids love it! Jul 25, 2012
Amanda P: This is a fantastic program for self paced work. The students love going through the different belts. May 7, 2012
Sarah B: because a friend copied and let me borrow a few pages to see if i liked it and I do so now I'm getting my own copy. Mar 26, 2012
Jill M: Great motivation for students to practice and learn. My students are already talking about this book and how everything is going to work...and we don't even start our Recorder lesson for another 3 weeks!! Love that they love music and are enthused to do something different. :) Feb 10, 2012
Shirley E: Wanted to learn about the method Jan 16, 2012
Sara D: good and fun method Jan 11, 2012
Carol K: Good reviews from other teachers Dec 8, 2011
Kathy F: My kids are indifferent about learning to play the recorder. However, from several different sources I heard good things about Recorder Karate and how it motivates the kids. I want to try it and see for myself. Nov 22, 2011
Alison B asked: Should I by just the one book or many books for the whole classroom? Jan 24, 2014
Answer this · Send to friends Good question? Yes (0) No (0)
Laura F: Hi Alison,
The book is intended as a Teacher's Handbook and permission is given for one teacher to duplicate as many copies of as many pages as needed for his/her classes. So you only want to buy one but you will be copying pages for your students. I switched to this system last year and have liked it so far. Good luck!
Jan 24, 2014
Reply to Laura Good answer? Yes (0) No (0)
Lana T R: I just used the one for the first year of introducing it. If you were to do it with the same class again or if you wanted more than one song per belt you would need more books. I only bought the one book but thought the duets book might be neat. My grade 3 class loved recorder karate. Jan 24, 2014
Reply to Lana T Good answer? Yes (0) No (0)
Jeff P: The book comes with reproduction permissions. You can make copies for your classes. I scanned them and projected the songs for full class work --no need for music stands. Then make copies of the songs for each belt color or you can make complete packets if you wish. Jan 24, 2014
Reply to Jeff Good answer? Yes (0) No (0)
Josh Y: I would just order one because you can take the book to the copy machine and make 'Recorder Karate books' for your students - You have permission from the author to reproduce the "reproducable" pages.. Hope that helps. Jan 24, 2014
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Amanda P: I only bought one due to the budget at my school. I believe that you are legally allowed to reproduce the songs for your students so you should only need one. Jan 24, 2014
Reply to Amanda Good answer? Yes (0) No (0)
Diane A: I personally like being able to have the reproducible pages. It's more cost effective, especially for a small school with limited finances. Jan 27, 2014
Reply to Diane Good answer? Yes (0) No (0)
Tami G: One book is all you need. When you purchase the book, you have permission to make copies of the music in the book. Jan 24, 2014
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Laura S: I would only buy one for yourself. The student pages are OK to copy for the kids.
Lonnie S.
Jan 25, 2014
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Juliette P: You should just buy one for now to see if you like it. Jan 24, 2014
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quan bridge: i go to longleaf and we do this Apr 1, 2014
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quan bridge: ok Apr 1, 2014
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