Because teachers had found Razzamajazz Recorder useful, I decided to write the Red Hot
Recorder Tutor/Method. The recorder is such a wonderfully versatile instrument that I wanted to write a tutor book that taught good technique, but was also fun and motivating. I wrote to lots of recorder teachers and asked them what they would like to see in a new tutor, and tried to provide what was needed.My main aim was to write fun pieces that, with the aid of a jazzy accompaniment, made the player sound good right from the start, a book that made them want to play the recorder and progress. It was important to make sure that the student had a really good time making music while at the same time being taught well.
Included in the tutor are “Red Hot rhythm sessions” where the pupil learns rhythms then claps them to a jazzy accompaniment. This is particularly useful for reinforcing rhythm reading for students at any stage. There are “long note listening” exercises where the pupil can play long notes to a backing, and is encouraged to listen to their sound and tuning. There is also” call and response” exercises to a jazzy backing to encourage playing by ear as well as musical literacy. There are piano accompaniments to all the pieces, and a CD backing which has two tempos for each piece for practice and performance.
Fun pieces Like the EBGB’s were so popular in the Red Hot Recorder Tutor, that I decided to write a whole book of recorder songs. The idea was to write piece with words to aid musical learning. Often the lyrics of the song will actually correspond to the notes being learned at the time, for example BA star. Some of the songs tackle the technical issues of playing like adding the right hand. “Up down round the bend” is particularly useful for practicing going from G down to bottom D (while having fun at the same time). Some teachers have found this book a useful starting point for very young pupils.
The Red Hot Song Library Is a really useful collection of song books and a great resource for any music classroom. They are full of fun and motivating new songs and new arrangements of old favourites. These include vocal warm ups and icebreakers, songs that introduce part singing, repertoire for any concert including “openers and finales”, music games, and a lot of fun ideas for activities and songs to aid musical leaning .All have a piano accompaniment and CD backing that comes with or without the vocal part. The accompaniments often have two tempos, one for practice and one for performance.
Warm ups – you can never have too many warm ups for music lessons or choir rehearsals. This is a collection of twenty, which include songs to warm up for a vocal session, songs to introduce everyone, tongue twister songs and “wake up” songs.
Silly songs – everybody loves silly songs! And these are a collection of twenty new songs and arrangements of old favourites.
Openers and finales – It’s nice to have song repertoire for a concert or show. All the best shows have openers and finales, and theres plenty of Razzamatazz in the is collection of twenty. These are also a good way to start and finish a lesson or rehearsal. How about leaving to “Time to go home”, or We’re nearly at the end of a lovely show”.
Chants and music games – this is a book of fillers for lessons. Some are chants to music or a beat. These are a great way to experiment with the voice. Some are games with involve listening or singing, and some are games to quieten and cool down.
Pentatonic songs – music teachers who are familiar with the work of Carl Orff, will know how useful new pentatonic songs can be. These are twenty completely new pentatonic songs all written just on the pentatonic scale in keys that will be ideal for use with Orff pitched percussion instruments. These pieces come with a piano and CD accompaniment, but can be sung accompanied by instruments using pentatonic ostinati. The book can be used as a wonderful introduction to improvisation techniques.
Ostinato songs – these are twenty new songs written around short ostinato patterns. Each song comes with a set of ostinatos which can be sung as extra vocal parts, or played as an instrumental accompaniment. Every piece has an ostinato bass line and a set of improvising notes. A unique performance of these fun pieces can be made using all these elements. An “Ostinato Olympics” song and the “Ostinato orchestra” song which introduces the instruments of the orchestra are particularly fun.
Cumilative songs – songs that grow. Here are twenty, from old favourites like “Ten in a bed” to a song counting down the stations on the London underground and a song that teaches you to ballroom dance (my favourite!). These are great fun, and particularly good for long coach trips!.
Rounds – form an excellent introduction to part singing, and the rounds in this book have as many as four parts. They encourage counting skills and pitch awareness. There’s a lot of fun new repertoire including “Mrs White had a fright” “Alphabet Athletics” and “There’s a brass band in the bandstand” (my favourite.)
Razzamajazz was the first series I wrote, and I still think it is one of the most useful. The idea behind the various instrumental versions, was to provide a way of leaning an instrument while playing actual pieces. I thought the teacher might find it a useful accompaniment to the traditional tutor book. I really wanted to write pieces that made the student sound good right from the very first note. I wanted to “set the student up for Success, by writing each piece with a special accompaniment that made them feel that they had achieved something special, and made them want to turn the page and learn more. The pieces in the books are progressive, staring with one note and adding a new one after each couple of pieces. The books can also be used for students who are more advanced but find note reading difficult.
The Razzamajazz Really Easy Band Book was a follow on from the Razzamajazzseries. It uses some of the simple tunes, and adds other instrumental parts to make a very simple ensemble arrangment. The pieces are accompanied by a piano or CD accompaniment.
Class Act was originally written to be used in a group leaning situation, but would be just as useful for a one to one lesson. The series is about music rather than method, and provides lots of progressive and fun repertoire to aid learning while allowing the teacher to use their own ideas for teaching theory and technique.
Piano Pizzazz are three books of progressive pieces in a jazz style accompanied by tips for playing with a “jazz feel” and also exercises for opening the door to improvisation. These are good books for students who want to take a less traditional route when learning the piano and wants the freedom to experiment.
Band in a Book contains all the parts in for a really flexible ensemble. My idea was to have a book with all the parts on a double page spread so that several people playing different instruments could play from the same book. The pieces are played with a piano or CD accompaniment in any combination from duet to orchestra. There are mixed ability parts for most instruments. Christmas Band in a Book is arrangements of traditional carols and perfect for accompanying singing or playing around the Christmas tree!
Sixty Sizzling Songz is really useful book, a nice mix of songs to provide a variety of music making activities for the music classroom. There are warm ups, chants, fun songs, old favourites , and songs that can be combined with instruments. I especially like the backing tracks that come with this book. The vocals were recorded by Jacqui Dankworth – we recorded them all in one day and she said it was like recording three albums!
Sparkling Songs for Starter Choirs are songs that would be ideal for a young choir. The book starts with some warm ups, and goes on to introduce part singing with some rounds and simple repetition songs . There are several songs with two parts. My favourites are the “Shrimp waltz”, the “Pork Pie Jig”, the “Seagull song” and the “Spider song” (and all the others!).
More often teachers are being asked to teach more than one instrument at a time. Two at a Time is a resource where two instruments can progress together and play duets right from the first note. The flute and clarinet book and the violin and cello book provide useful ensemble pieces for early stage learning that are often hard to find.
The descant and treble recorder book also has an optional tenor recorder part, so while teaching these instruments, the pupils can play in an ensemble right from the first week.