Closet Key Song On Recorder

image closet key song recorder banner

Are you looking for different songs to practice B-A-G on recorder?

Do you want help learning and teaching Closet Key on recorders? 

There are times my kids need some extra practice learning B-A-G on recorder. I like to turn to songs my kids have learned using do-re-mi solfege pitches, and Closet Key is a perfect candidate.

Over the years, I’ve figured out how to teach and play the Closet Key song on recorder. 

Closet Key is perfect for beginner recorder because it only uses the pitches B, A, and G. The rhythms used are paired eighth notes and quarter notes. This is also a two-chord song. 

Read on for more information teaching this song on recorder and its normal game directions. 

Closet Key Lyrics

Closet Key is a simple song with repeating lyrics. The trickiest part of the song is getting students to resolve up the first time and down the second time. 

The lyrics for the song are as follows: 

I have lost the closet key

In my lady’s garden. 

I have lost the closet key

In my lady’s garden. 

Check out the notation in the recorder section below. 

Suggested Grade: Second grade for the concepts; Beginning recorder

Pitches used: Do, re, mi

Rhythms used: Paired eighth notes, quarter note

Origin: On the Trail of Negro Folk-Songs by Scarborough and Gulledge published in 1925, song collected in Virginia

Closet Key Game

The game for Closet Key is simple as well, but kids love it. 

Students are seated in a circle with one student as the leader. The leader has a key or object representing the key. 

One other student sits in the middle of the circle with their eyes closed. 

Sitting circle students put their hands behind their back in a basket shape. They sing the song. 

The leader walks around the circle and puts the key into one of the students’ hands. 

At the end of the song, the middle student opens their eyes and needs to guess who has the key. 

If they guess right, hooray! If they don’t, oh well. It doesn’t matter! 

The middle student becomes the next picker/leader, the chosen student goes in the middle and becomes the guesser, and the former leader goes back to the circle. 

Repeat as many times as you wish. I usually only play this game 7-10 rounds per class, but I’ll make sure to play it 3 classes in a row to hit everyone in the class. 

Closet Key Song On Recorder

Learning the Closet Key on recorder is easy, but I wouldn’t attempt it right away with new players. The trickiest part of the song is the B-G jumping part. 

But this difficulty actually makes it great practice! 

First, take a look at the notation below, and then I’ll break down my steps for teaching the song.

#1 Review BAG

Before you get started on the song, it’s a good idea to review BAG with your kids. I always have students echo patterns on the individual notes we use in the song we’re learning in the lesson. 

Do 3 patterns on B, then A, and then G. 

Then, have students echo patterns going up and down the three pitches after you. 

Make sure to give actionable and specific feedback wherever possible. This is the time to fix overblowing, bad posture, and slanted fingers. 

#2 Echo B-G patterns

After doing a good warmup, you should have another practice before learning the song. This practice is focused on the challenging element of the song. 

With Closet Key, this means the double-finger-lift of B to G. 

Practice B to G patterns at least 3-5 times in both directions. Do make sure to hit the exact pattern used in the first and third measures a couple of those times. 

#3 Clap And Say The Rhythms/Sing The Solfege

To encourage music literacy, don’t move on to learning by rote right away. Have the students practice reading whatever they can at this point. 

Ask students to clap (or tap their recorders in their hands) and say the rhythms with rhythm syllables. 

If they know the solfege, have them sing and/or sign the solfege to Closet Key as well (reference the notation as needed). 

When your students learn how to read the pitches on the treble clef staff, you should also have them practice singing the notes as well. 

Just make sure you do these reading things in this order: 

  1. Rhythm
  2. Solfege
  3. Pitches/Notes

#4 Finger And Play First Measure

Ask students to look at the first measure and watch your finger and say the notes. Have the students echo and say the notes as well. 

Offer feedback where needed. 

Play the first measure on recorder for them, and the students should echo playing. 

As always, offer more feedback all along the way. 

#5 Finger And Play Second Measure

Repeat the same steps with the second measure. Take care to point out when they break the B-G patterns to go to A. 

#6 Put Together

Repeat the same steps but this time with both of the first two measures. 

It’s important for you to play the parts first for them. This isn’t to give them the answers but to model what a good recorder should sound like. 

Sound concept is important for developing a good tone, but it can’t be developed without listening. 

#7 Compare And Contrast The Two Halves

This step is in some ways optional, but I think it’s important to do this as well. Comparing and contrasting reaches deeper learning and activates higher-order thinking skills. 

Ask students to look at each section and compare and contrast. You may wish to use a graphic organizer such as a list or Venn diagram. 

Here are some things students may notice: 

  • The first and third measures are the same
  • We go to “A” at the same part
  • In the first half, we end on B, but the second ends on G. 
  • The rhythms are exactly the same

#8 Practice Second Half

With this comparison done, teach students how to streamline their learning. Ask them to play the exact same notes they did in the first half, just end on G instead. 

I usually climb up on my figurative soapbox and talk briefly about how they should look for patterns in all music and in all areas of life to save themselves some time and effort to master skills faster. 

Either do the finger-play steps or just have them play it. Offer feedback as needed. 

#9 Play The Whole Song

Students should now be able to play the whole song. Ask them to give it a shot. 

If they play it well, introduce some challenges which I talk about in my teaching recorder guide. 

Congrats! Now your kids know how to play this song on recorder. 

Closet Key Chords

The chords for Closet Key are simple; all you need is I and V chords. When aligning with a recorder, this means you need a G Major and D major (or D7) chord. Look at the notation above for when the chords change. 

Piano chords: Piano notes for the song include: 

  • G Major – G B D
  • D Major – D F# A
  • D7 (better than just D) – D F# A C

Guitar Chords: The notes are the same, but here’s how to finger the chords:

  • G Major 
    • Middle finger, second string, second fret
    • Ring finger, first string, third fret
    • Little finger, sizth string, third fret
  • D Major
    • Index finger, fourth string, second fret
    • Middle finger, sixth string, second fret
    • Ring finger, fifth string, third fret
  • D7
    • Index finger, fifth string, first fret
    • Middle finger, fourth string, second fret
    • Ring finger, sixth string, second fret

Ukulele Chords: Same notes, but the fingering is trickier. 

  • G Major (same a D major on guitar)
    • Index finger, second string, second fret
    • Middle finger, fourth string, second fret
    • Ring finger, third string, third fret
  • D Major
    • Flatten middle finger to cover second fret on strings 1, 2, and 3
  • D7
    • Index finger, first string, second fret
    • Middle finger, third string, second fret


I hope you enjoyed learning about how to play the Closet Key song on recorder. This song is perfect for practicing the B-G jump with recorder and only uses B-A-G. 

Do you have any other favorite B-A-G songs? Let us know in the comments. 

Zach VanderGraaff

Zach VanderGraaff is a K-5 music teacher in Michigan with 12 years of experience. He's the President of the Michigan Kodaly Educators and founder of the Dynamic Music Room.

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