Readers of the site often email and ask me about school music equipment I use in my classroom at school, things that don't appear elsewhere on the site such as metronomes or digital audio recorders (both of which I use extensively).
Here is a list of the things I have used or recently ordered which I have found to be a combination of great quality, easy to use, hardy(!), good value for money and/or easy to get delivered to the school where I work in Saudi Arabia! It's not always all of these, but as long as enough of those boxes are ticked then I'm happy.
First and foremost the Nuvo range of instruments for primary school children. These are totally amazing.
The Recorder+ means no more fingers only half covering holes, but the genius thing is the wall which helps guide students in keeping their hands correctly positioned on the recorder. It saves a massive amount of time saying, "don't cross the wall" rather than individually asking students to reverse their hands! The recorder+ is tough, sounds good and of course avoids the 'half covered hole' squeak which plagues younger learners because of their finger size.
I also really like the removable rings on the bell. These can actually be removed and awarded for achieving targets - the kids love it! Plus they come in a range of colours. We are starting students in Year 2 with these and they are making fast progress - we are even considering starting Year 1 with them next year.
One of the most interesting things will be to see if when students move to a normal recorder from the Recorder+, they automatically use the correct hand positions rather than switching them around. I'm assuming they will. And yes, Nuvo do make a standard recorder model as well in multiple colours with the removable rings.
Up until now we have used Aulos recorders, but now I'm thinking we will switch to the Nuvo standard recorder as well, if only because the kids love the colours and the rings so much. Lots of parents are asking about getting their own Recorder+, especailly as they come in a sturdy protective case so could easily be brought into school when needed.
The Recorder+ isn't the only school music equipment we use from Nuvo. The other instruments they produce for primary students are also fantastic!
All of these instruments are fantastic for beginners and a great transition from the recorder. The Toot (about the same size as a picolo but pitched as a descant recorder) has a mouthpiece which allows students to easily grasp the positioning of the instrument and it can be removed later to work on a flute embouchure. The Dood is like a C clarinet, with a plastic reed and recorder fingering. Slightly harder to get a note from initially, but it doesn't take students long to get the hang of it with some practice and the JSax is similar in that it has reorder fingering and a single plastic reed.
And when students are ready to move on, but maybe not quite ready for the full weight (and expense!) of a real clarinet or flute there is also the Nuvo Student flute (a standard concert flute with all the keys, but made of plastic and the clarineo which is a plastic clarinet in C. Easy for students to learn on and saves a huge amount of arranging time since these tow instruments can play flute or recorder duets together - in fact, I had an unexpected clarinet player turn up to a beginners orchestra rehearsal once and loaned her a clarineo and gave her a flute part to play. She really enjoyed playing it as well - despite having a clarinet of her own.
And there is plenty of room for potential brass players as well with the JHorn! Lightweight, durable and with three valves and a brass mouthpiece so students can get familiar with standard brass fingerings and embouchure from an early age. It has a great tone as well.
One other instrument we have is the PBuzz which is a very like a trombone. Again, plastic, easy to get to grips with and lots of fun for the kids. The great feature is that the notes are marked on the slide, so students can see where the slide is supposed to be for different notes.
All of these instruments are made of tough plastic and can be washed with soap and water. We have 3 class sets of the Recorder+ in 3 different colours. This is enough so that only one students uses a particular instrument on any given day. At the end of the day they are cleaned in soapy water, left to dry over night and ready to be used again the next morning.
I cannot recommend these instruments enough. Teaching in a school in Saudi Arabia can sometimes be a challenge and this was the case just before Covid when we lost all of our instrumental teachers, with no new ones appearing to replace them once face-to-face school started again. However, building the primary programme with the Nuvo instruments has reignited the students' interest in playing and hopefully will set them off on the path to moving on to the full instrument.
In the meantime, we have a great orchestra of Nuvo instruments!
I will post further individual reviews soon. Watch this space!
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