Best Books For Soprano Recorder: Top 5

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Are you looking to shake up your recorder curriculum with a new method book? 

Do you want to supplement your recorder instruction with other materials? 

I love teaching recorders (after the first few weeks!)and my students love it too! But when my recorder literature started to bore me, I knew I had to look for some new stuff. 

So I did some research and asked around to develop this list of the best books for soprano recorder. 

The best soprano recorder books need to have engaging materials, a variety of learning activities, a balance of literacy and ear training, and a developed learning sequence. My picks for the best books for soprano recorder are: 

Check out the rest of the article for helpful information and detailed reviews of each of these recorder books. 

What To Look For In A Recorder Method Book

How do you determine which book is right for you and your students? Here are some elements I look for when thinking about using a recorder method. 

Source Material 

For me personally, one of the most important elements of anything I do in my classroom is based on authentic source material. Even recorder books should be mostly based on folk songs and other real songs. 

Check out why folk songs are so important. 

One of the first things I’ll look for are the kinds of songs and exercises included. The books need a healthy balance of exercises and actual songs. 

Types Of Lessons

The old-school method of teaching by playing and repeating doesn’t hold up with today’s students well, nor should it. 

While students can get quite good just by doing over and over, there should be a wider variety of lessons reaching different learning styles (called differentiation). 

This will help with engagement and learning more efficiently. 

Ear Training And Literacy

Recorders are a great way to introduce the staff and absolute pitches in a practical way for kids. Most teachers agree with starting the staff pitches when they start teaching recorder. 

However, this doesn’t mean the aural activities need to fall by the wayside. 

The best recorder books will build listening activities into their books, but you may want to supplement even more to keep the appropriate balance. 

Learning Sequence 

Consider the sequence of pitches and rhythms in a recorder book and see if you agree with it. I believe it doesn’t really matter in the end what you choose as long as you stick with it. 

Whether you start B-A-G or G-E, the best thing to do for your kids is to be intentional. 

Learn more about recorder sequences in our beginner’s guide to teaching recorders. 

Cost

We can’t avoid budget as one of our main concerns. If you want to use the book as a teacher-only resource and project for your students, you may be able to spend a little more. 

But if you’re buying one for each student, you need to look for a more affordable option. 

Also, watch out for books which come in installments (i.e. book 1, book 2, etc). These books are often more thorough but require multiple purchases. 

I’ll mention the general price point of the method book compared to other books, but since price changes constantly, the best way to check current pricing is to click the button in the review section below. 

Direct Comparison Of The Best Books For Soprano Recorder

Use this chart as a quick reference guide for how the methods are compared to one another. For more details, check out the review section below. 

Recorder BookProsCons

The Recorder Guide
*Great inclusion of folk songs
*Comprehensive guide to getting better at recorder
*Useful for adult learners as well
*Includes chords for each song
*Students will need some foundation of music literacy to start with the book
*Not many built-in aural activities

50+ Greatest Classic For Recorder
*Awesome source material
*Allows for in-roads into learning more about classical music
*Affordable price
*Good range of difficulty
*No instruction or exercises
*Doesn’t follow a sequence of concepts

Recorder Express
*Well-planned sequence
*Variety of learning activities
*Books 1 and 2 in one purchase
*Good folk song source material with some pop tunes
*Higher price
*Some music teachers may not want to go to high C after B-A-G

Progressive Recorder Method For Young Beginners
*Great illustrations
*Awesome DVD comes with it
*Logical sequence
*Comes in 3 seperate volumes
*Not as many songs in each volume

The Charlton Method Of The Recorder
*Thorough technique and lessons for masterful recorder
*Great, atuhentic source material
*Perfect for teachers and older students
*Higher price
*Not for beginners

Note: Images are clickable and take you to the product pages. 

Review Of The Best Recorder Instruction Books

In this section, I’ll give a review of each of the picks for the books based on my experiences and what others have said as well. Use this to help you decide which one may be best for your students. 

Some links may be affiliate in nature which means I earn a small commission when you click and purchase. However, I only recommend products I personally believe in. 

The Recorder Guide

As a medium-priced option, The Recorder Guide is one you may want to purchase just to have for yourself to reference. 

The method book is designed with all learners in mind, including adults. This makes it one of the best recorder books for adults. 

It still works well with kids though. The material inside is largely based on authentic folk tunes the student may have already learned in your class. 

It provides easy-to-understand diagrams for students and helps teach literary elements in a thoughtful way 

The Recorder Guide also provides lessons on the mechanics of sound. But one of my favorite features has to be the inclusion of chords for each song. 

This means you’ll have little problem accompanying them or transferring some of this material over into ukulele or guitar classes as well. 

Pros For This Book: 

  • Great inclusion of folk songs
  • Comprehensive guide to getting better at recorder
  • Useful for adult learners as well 
  • Includes chords for each song

Cons For This Book: 

  • Students will need some foundation of music literacy to start with the book
  • Not many built-in aural activities 

50+ Greatest Classics For Recorder

This book isn’t so much a recorder method as it is a selection of classical excerpts all written in recorder friendly keys. This affordable book has pieces ranging from beginner to advanced difficulties. 

One of the reasons I love using this book is how it offers a foothold into talking about and listening to more advanced classical pieces. It features some following composers: 

  • Bach
  • Handel
  • Purcell
  • Wagner
  • Verdi
  • Puccini
  • Tchaikovsky
  • Bizet
  • Delibes
  • Saint-Saëns
  • Fauré

The source material is amazing, but it’s not a method. 

There isn’t instruction, and there isn’t a sequence. It’s just a collection of songs. 

Still, this book cements itself as one of the best books for its repertoire. It just won’t be your only book choice (unless you want to build on it with exercises you develop yourself). 

Pros For This Book: 

  • Awesome source material
  • Allows for in-roads into learning more about classical music
  • Affordable price
  • Good range of difficulty

Cons For This Book: 

  • No instruction or exercises
  • Doesn’t follow a sequence of concepts
image best books for soprano recorder: top 5 pin

Recorder Express

Artie Almeida’s recorder method book for kids is well-planned and sequenced with a big variety of lesson activities and folk songs. This book may seem more expensive than some, but this bundle includes both her volume and audio CD accompaniments. 

She chooses to use B-A-G-C-D-Low E-Low D-F#-Low C-F-High E as her sequence which I tend to agree with. 

There are over 120 songs and exercises included in a thoughtful and thorough way. Most are folk tunes with some composed exercises and pop songs along the way. 

Artie herself is a world-class recorder and established and experienced teacher, so you know this material has been tested. 

Pros For This Book: 

  • Well-planned sequence
  • Variety of learning activities
  • Books 1 and 2 in one purchase
  • Good folk song source material with some pop tunes

Cons For This Book: 

  • Higher price
  • Some music teachers may not want to go to high C after B-A-G

Progressive Recorder Methods For Young Beginners

This book series is designed with young beginners in mind. Each book is affordable, but you need to purchase each of the 3 volumes to get the full sequence. 

The first volume covers B-A-G-C-D. Its visuals are attractive and stimulating for kids.

The songs are combined well with exercises throughout. This book also comes with an accompanying CD and DVD. 

The beginner DVD walks kids through how to hold their recorder and produce good sound. While I prefer to teach this myself, the videos are easily portioned off to use as review (or when you’re feeling under the weather). 

Pros For This Book: 

  • Great illustrations
  • Awesome DVD comes with it
  • Logical sequence

Cons For This Book: 

  • Comes in 3 separate volumes
  • Not as many songs in each volume

The Charlton Method Of The Recorder

This book is for advanced recorder players. It’s higher price is offset by the fact you get a master class in recorder playing for early music through jazz. 

This isn’t a young student based model, but many of its elements and exercises may be pulled into 5th grade recorder lessons if you started the kids early enough. 

As a music teacher, I think this book is a necessity for you to have to practice and to play. If all you, as the teacher, can do is play basic recorder, this is all your students will be able to achieve. 

But if you push yourself harder, the students will rise much faster as well. 

Pros For This Book: 

  • Thorough technique and lessons for masterful recorder
  • Great, authentic source material
  • Perfect for teachers and older students

Cons For This Book: 

  • Higher price
  • Not for beginners

Conclusion

I’ve used all of these recorder method books to some extent, and any of these would make a good addition to your repertoire. 

If forced to pick one, I’d choose Recorder Express. Its method is comprehensive and well-thought-out. 

However, don’t discount the 50+ Greatest Classics book. This one adds a lot of fun songs; consider using this book as a supplement to one of the others. 

Which recorder method do you currently use? Let us know in the comments below. 

Zach VanderGraaff

Zach VanderGraaff is a K-5 music teacher with Bay City Public Schools in Michigan. He's a Past-President of the Michigan Kodaly Educators and Executive Secretary of the Midwest Kodaly Music Educators Association.

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