Just recently, I ordered a new batch of recorders for my school, together with two sets of recorder tutor books. If I'd known about this product, I could have saved a fair amount of money, because here is a program for which the term 'educational' really is justified. For primary schools and children of that age group it's a dream... an easy and thoroughly enjoyable way to learn the recorder. It's as effective, I've found, with a class of around twenty children as it is individually or with small groups.
It's not cheap, though, so let's look at what is being offered in rather more detail. The kit consists of a book of music (which also contains full and detailed instruction for using the program), the program itself, plus a cassette tape of accompaniments for a 'play along' session once the child starts to get to grips with the instrument.
A menu screen invites the user to choose a lesson. There are twenty six in all, increasing in difficulty, and a carefully graded selection of pieces is offered as the player gains competence and experience. There are classical tunes, modern pieces and folk songs, presenting a lively and likeable repertoire, and there are two special 'exercises' within each lesson.
Lesson A, for example, introduces the note 'B', gives a diagram of the recorder showing very clearly how the note is fingered, demonstrates the note, and then offers two practice pieces. The options within a lesson are just what a teacher needs... the volume can be changed, a 'metronome' can be switched in, or a bouncing ball on the notes, the tempo can be altered, the piece can be demonstrated to the player (in its entirety or from a specific bar) and so on.
Mupados seem to have thought of everything. The accompaniment is a real incentive too, both for enriching the performance, and giving it style or precision.
There are many touches which demonstrate the careful planning in the package; each exercise is either a melody in its own right, or a duet part to be played with a melody from another lesson. Because the melody and duet parts are interlinked, opportunity is given for groups and individuals of differing abilities to play together. The booklet also suggests that, since there are a number of 'classical' quotes from various famous works, the complete performance can be introduced to the players at an appropriate time. I certainly support that view.
Too often, the recorder is regarded as a beginner's instrument... something to cut a child's musical teeth on. This is a shame, as anyone who has heard a group of primary children playing Handel on descant, treble and tenor recorders will testify. I am sure this new Mupados kit will fill an important gap, and it was certainly warmly welcomed in my own school.
Now then Mupados, my own instrument is the classical guitar. What can you offer my school in that direction... [Funny you should say that Mike, the Mupados Micro Maestro series includes a guitar tutor - Ed]