recorder storage

Making It Work: Recorder Storage

I am the type of teacher who uses recorders with my students throughout the year. Sometimes we use the recorders every lesson for several classes in a row; sometimes we don’t. Because I use my recorders in this way, asking the children to take them home and bring them back each class does not work well for me. Many teachers keep recorders in the classroom for a variety of reasons, and storing them in a hygienic and easily accessible way is a conundrum.

Each classroom and teaching situation is different, but this is how I make it work…

I had my school custodians save the cardboard paper towel roll centers from the paper towel machines. The tubes are shorter and sturdier than the tubes from grocery store paper towels. I purchased one of the Hefty brand plastic tubs from Target for each class and stuffed the containers with the tubes until they fit snugly. I labeled each bin by writing the class information on a 4×6 card and placing it at the front of the bin between the tubes and the plastic. (This makes it easy to change out for next year.) One recorder goes in each tube, mouthpiece up. The tubes keep the recorders from touching. When I stack the bins three high, they are the perfect height for the children to retrieve and return their recorders easily. The bins for the classes using recorders on that day go on the top of the stack. When class is over I leave the lid off of the bin until the next day so the recorders completely dry before closing the lid. This avoids the need for cleaning rods and cases, which have caused many a problem for me in the past, and saves time. The children just drop the recorder in the bin and return to their seats. In the morning I close the bins, and re-stack for the next set of classes. I keep their cases and cleaning rods in milk crates on top of cabinets in the hallway. At the end of the year, students who have purchased their own recorders may take them home or leave them with me in the bin for next year.

What methods for recorder storage have worked for you? Please share your method and explain why it works best for your teaching situation. We would love to see pictures of your recorders in the storage solutions you have contrived. Your idea may be just the thing that works for someone else!

LeslieAnne Bird

LeslieAnne Bird is a music and movement educator at University Schools in Shaker, Ohio. She teaches general music and choir to fifth through seventh grade young men and is an adjunct Professor at the University of Akron. She has previously taught in North Olmsted & Cleveland Ohio as well as in Prince George’s County, Maryland. LeslieAnne is a national presenter. She has served as vice president and membership chair for the Greater Cleveland Orff Chapter and is currently serving as the content curator for the Teaching With Orff community. In addition, she is the owner and CEO of Three Little Birds Music Education Services LLC where she offers teacher training, coaching and musical experiences for children and adults. She earned Orff Certification from Baldwin Wallace University in 2014, and has completed Music Learning Theory General Music Level One, Level One World Music Drumming training, Level One Google Certification and has earned the Ohio Master Teacher designation.

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  1. Vickie Livermore on April 6, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    Thanks for posting your idea.I am not sure how the students can tell which recorder is theirs. Is the blue sticker a name label?

    • Teaching With Orff on April 10, 2016 at 9:49 am

      Yes, each recorder has a sticker with the student’s name. – Your friends at Teaching With Orff

  2. Robin Brian on April 6, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    I like to use hanging shoe organizers. I purchased different colored ones for each class ( or grade level) and numbered each pocket with permanent marker and affix a removable label to identify the class on each organizer. You can usually find the organizers at dollar tree that hold 24 shoes, if I have more than that per class, I have the bottom rows share and put both numbers on the pockets. My classes continue to use their recorders after 3rd grade so I change the removable label for the next year, rather than moving the recorders. At my school it was tradition that the 6th graders “donated” their recorders to the music room so I always had extras for those kids who couldn’t afford to buy them or just for extras to send home with the overachievers.

    • Teaching With Orff on April 10, 2016 at 9:54 am

      Repurposing shoe organizers is a creative storage solution! Thank you for sharing, Robin. – Your friends at Teaching With Orff

    • Katherine Iooss on April 14, 2016 at 4:56 pm

      Robin – the shoe organizer solution sounds great! Do you hang all the organizers on the wall? or…? thanks for sharing your idea!

    • Daina on July 26, 2016 at 2:05 am

      I would love to see a picture of this!

  3. Dorothy Weir on April 6, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    My kids have their own and keep them in their back packs. I also have a drawer of extras when they forget theirs. If they use mine, it goes in a bucket after class. When the ‘used’ bucket is full, I go to the school kitchen and they let me use the dishwasher. I stand them up between trays and run them through, laying them out to dry and back in the drawer for another time!!

    • Teaching With Orff on April 10, 2016 at 9:46 am

      Great idea to use the dishwasher for cleaning recorders in bulk. Thank you for sharing, Dorothy! – Your friends at Teaching With Orff

    • Jennifer on February 7, 2018 at 10:52 am

      When you put them in the school dishwasher between trays is there a chemical issue? My kitchen supervisor is concerned that they chemicals used in the washer are not safe for the recorders.

  4. Carole on April 6, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    This was started by the actual music teacher at the school (I’m covering her maternity leave.)

    She has a red basket and a green basket. The small amount of classroom recorders that are clean are kept in the green basket. Dirty are moved to the red to be cleaned in the sink.

    Green means “Go”
    Red means “No”

    They are used so much that there is almost no need for storing elsewhere.

    • Teaching With Orff on April 10, 2016 at 9:45 am

      The color coded baskets are a great visual for young students. Thank you for sharing, Carole! – Your friends at Teaching With Orff

  5. Angela on April 7, 2016 at 8:09 am

    Gallon-sized ziploc bags work great as recorder “cases,” to help keep things sanitary

    • Teaching With Orff on April 10, 2016 at 9:41 am

      Great idea, Angela. Thank you for sharing! – Your friends at Teaching With Orff

  6. Donna on April 7, 2016 at 9:39 am

    We use soprano recorder stands. They can be ordered from West Music. They make my life so easy!

    • Teaching With Orff on April 10, 2016 at 9:40 am

      Great idea! Thank you for sharing, Donna. – Your friends at Teaching With Orff

    • Jim on March 15, 2017 at 2:08 pm

      If your school is on a tight budget, like mine is, or if you are handy with tools, or have a spouse or friend that is, you can make your own recorder stands for about half of the price of buying one. And if you are lucky enough, you may be able to get supplies donated for the project.

      Go to Lowe’s or Home Depot and get some 3/4 inch plywood (birch is better than pine) or solid wood panels and have them cut into 1 foot squares (which will hold a total of 36 recorders when finished). A half sheet of plywood will yield 16 panels.

      Buy several 3 foot pieces of 1/4 inch dowel rod and cut them into even sized pieces (I cut mine into 6 inch sections, so 6 of the three foot rods will give you 36 six inch pieces). Take your plywood panels and measure out a grid starting 1 inch from both the front edge and left edge. Place a mark at this point and then continue marking across the board at 2 inch intervals. Repeat this 5 more times keeping a 2 inch spacing between rows.

      With a drill press or a power drill use a 1/4 inch drill bit to drill holes at the marks you made on the plywood. Try to drill at least 1/2 inch deep on each hole. Put some wood glue into each hole and tap a piece of the dowel into each of the holes using a hammer. When the glue dries, you will have a stand that will hold 36 soprano recorders.

      To make each stand a little nicer you could glue a sheet of thin plastic like the thin silicon sheet cutting boards you can buy at Old Time Pottery onto the plywood before drilling the holes. For a little nicer touch, round the exposed tips of the dowel rods using a sander before you glue them into the board. You don’t need to round the end that will be glued into the board.

      You can add some small feet to the stands, if you want. You can be creative with this either making them from wood, or simply using rubber stick on feet or felt cushions made for chair legs.

      Each stand will cost about $20 and some time in the wood shop.

      • LeslieAnne Bird on March 25, 2017 at 7:42 am

        Thank you for these detailed instructions!

  7. Mary on April 13, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    I purchased dollar tree buckets and put colored duck tape around them for teacher names and also to stabilize. They are on shelves by grade. I hand 3 each to several students who then pass those out. The students unzip, drop the bag under their chair and place recorders flat on their lap. When class is over, the bucket is on their way to the door so they drop them in and the last person places the bucket on the shelf.

  8. Michelle Fink on April 20, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    The peg stands are the best! I worked with the High School shop teacher who had one of his classes make mine (white laminate shelving & 1/4′ diam dowel rods cut to length) for under 5$ per unit of 36 pegs. I also use them for kazoos…

    • Teaching With Orff on May 3, 2016 at 10:10 pm

      This sounds like a great collaboration, Michelle. Thank you for sharing! – Your friends at Teaching With Orff

    • Hannah on January 9, 2017 at 11:40 am

      Did he drill holes for the dowel rods?

  9. Brett Larsen on May 3, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    Our school has a design teacher who asked if I needed anything. I asked for a recorder holder that can be placed in a plastic tub for storage but easily taken out for access to the instruments. Here’s a picture of the prototype. He will add numbers to each peg as well as the school inscription.
    See photo in the “I’m A General Music Teacher” Facebook page.

  10. Hannah on March 6, 2017 at 9:56 am

    Hey, I’m struggling to keep name labels on my students’ recorders. Any suggestion for labels that actually stay on and don’t continue to peel off?

    • LeslieAnne Bird on March 14, 2017 at 8:32 am

      Hey Hannah!

      I use the colored circle dots. I write the name on the dot, stick it to the recorder and then cover it with a strip on clear tape. This year most of my students are purchasing the recorder through me and I use an ivory colored recorder I just write names directly on the recorder and only use the dots for students who are “borrowing” from the school set for the year. Hope this helps.

    • Trish Nix on March 15, 2017 at 3:26 pm

      I use gym floor marking tape. I comes in various colors and can easily be peeled of at the end of the year before washing.

    • Abigail on March 21, 2017 at 11:07 am

      I use the outdoor variety of Sharpie and have them write their names on the bottom of the recorders.

  11. Leah Riggs on March 15, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    I store mine on racks I bought through either West Music or Music In Motion. Each student has been assigned a number and each class is either letter A, B, or C. I write the letter and number on each recorder with a sharpie. So if I call 1C Phoenix knows to come get his recorder. Kids get really quick at passing out and in. I find this open storage is good because the recorders have a better time drying out between class periods.

  12. Jacquie on March 15, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    I have an engraver that I bought at Home depot for about $10. I engrave the names of the students on the backs of their recorders and write their nameson the outside of the recorder bags. They get stored in milk crates that are a perfect fit for the recorders to lay flat in. Then their foldrs go on top. Each basket is marked with their teacher’s name. Two students each month are chosen to be the keepers of the recorders. They bring the basket to and from music class, pass them out and take them back to their class. That way, if they want to take their recorder home it is always in their class’s possession. Since they go straight from me to PE it also eliminates the recorders being all over the floor and left or forgotten in the gym. Using the baskets also eliminates the need for storage in my room. Also, they don’t have them in their hands in the hallway which I found is a great temptation.

  13. Crystal on May 9, 2018 at 8:17 pm

    I use wine boxes that I’ve covered with cute paper! I number each section then assign each kid a number. It’s worked great!!!!

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