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Book Review: The Tropical Recorder

by David Birrow Birrow.David@MacPhail.org

The Tropical Recorder is a book of recorder tunes with Orff instrument (hand drum, xylophones, shakers et. al) accompaniments by Jim Solomon and Mary Helen Solomon.  This book is available in the Community Partnership Resource Library on the 3rd floor and is a great choice if you need to throw together a school performance. 

The strength of this book is the depth of the arrangements. The variety of instruments and parts allows for all students to be successful.  Each tune also includes useful ideas for arranging, improvising, and teaching as well as piano accompaniments for the teacher to play.   Many of the tunes have extended forms, which you don't often see in recorder books.  I've found that the tunes are interesting enough for older students and the melodies intended for recorder can work on other instruments as well. 

Now, I'm not a quick sell on recorder tunes, but I've used the material in this book countless times in a variety of settings, so I can vouch for their teaching effectiveness. Not to mention the tunes haven't driven me nuts after a few hundred hearings, which I can't say the same for Hot Cross Buns or Lightly Row. Many of the tunes are in Major ("Do") or Minor ("La") pentatonic tonality, the validity of which has been vigorously discussed on this blog over the past couple months (#musicteachernerd).   

You can view the introductory pages and a few of the tunes on Amazon.  It is definitely worth checking out if you teach summer camps and need something that will sound fancy without much rehearsal. 

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