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Washing/Sterilising Recorders Help!

Discussion in 'Music' started by amrmusic, Jan 12, 2019.

  1. amrmusic

    amrmusic New commenter

    Hi, new member here! I had a question about cleaning recorders and was looking for some advice.

    I started working in a primary school in November and have been teaching recorder to Year 2 + 3. In the first lesson, the class teacher gave me a box of recorders which had been untouched for a while but have been used in the past + it was unclear if they'd been cleaned since. She said to use them for the first lesson as they hadn't been used recently (not ideal but it was the only choice in the moment and was what she decided) and the school would clean them afterwards. Since then, I've cleaned all the mouthpieces with wet wipes, and make sure that the children either use the recorder they used before or have a freshly cleaned (by wet wipe) one.

    However, I have a feeling they still haven't been properly cleaned yet and this is something I'd like to do for hygiene reasons. I was wondering how exactly I need to go about this: do I sterilise them or just wash them? Soak them in soapy water or some kind of sterilising solution? They're plastic and separate into pieces. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Also, is it okay to quickly clean the mouthpiece with a wet wipe between classes? I teach each year group separately and there aren't quite enough recorders for both classes, so some recorders used in the first lesson are quickly cleaned and then used in the second lesson (once they've dried). Best-case scenario would be each child having their own recorder but we don't currently have the resources so is this okay for now or should I look into trying to get more recorders?

    Finally, one more question. Since returning after Christmas break, it seems more recorders are squeaking/not playing properly even when the children are doing the right technique. Is it possible they got too cold or gathered condensation or something being kept in a cold school over the holidays? And if so, is this something I can fix? Before the break there was only one that didn't work, but last lesson I had to clean + replace at least 6 recorders due to them consistently not playing properly. I'm going to test them all out so I can see just how many aren't working and keep the worse quality recorders separate to avoid wasting time cleaning during lessons, but as I mentioned we don't have many recorders so it'd be great if anyone has any suggestions as to what might be wrong and how to get them working again!

    I didn't mean for this to be so long (sorry!) but if anyone has any advice or answers I'd really appreciate it!
  2. Sir Cumference

    Sir Cumference Occasional commenter

    I used a bucket containing about 3 cm of water and a little milton - that seems to do the trick!
  3. sparklepig2002

    sparklepig2002 Star commenter

    I put mine in the school dishwasher - is that an option.?. Milton is effective. Ideally each child should have their own instrument - for hygiene reasons and so that they can take them home and practice. My school bought in bulk from county supplies and the parents bought from school for a couple of pounds.
    Ideally you need a set for each class and the children should use the same one each time. In one school where the recorders were not allowed to be taken home, I wrote a number on each case and gave each child a corresponding number. They took the same recorder each time.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019
  4. amrmusic

    amrmusic New commenter

    Thank you! Roughly how long should you soak them for?
  5. amrmusic

    amrmusic New commenter

    School dishwasher is not currently an option, although I will ask about using it in future.
    Yes, this would be ideal. I hadn't thought of parents buying them off the school - think I might mention this as it would be better if everyone gets a recorder and that way it wouldn't put quite so much financial pressure on the school!
    Before Christmas, I labelled the recorder cases so every child has one with their name on it. After each lesson, each child returns the recorder they used to their named case and uses the same recorder again next time, unless I've had to take the recorder out of their case, clean it and give it to someone else (meaning the first child's case will be empty so next time I teach them I clean a new recorder for them and then they keep that one in their case and so on). This is currently the best way to ensure that most children use the same recorder they've been using, and anyone else gets a freshly cleaned one. However, I think it might be a good idea to see if we can get more recorders and then each child gets their own that they use each time. Thank you for your help!
    sparklepig2002 likes this.
  6. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Instructions are on the Milton packet. (Well, for sterilising baby bottles, but presumably the same for recorders!). From memory from doing my grandson's recently it's 30 minutes. Trick is to make sure water completely covers them.
  7. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    Yes, best if school bulk buys some decent recorders and requests that every child who needs one purchases from school. Keep some spares for those who don’t purchase and sterilise as recommended above. Just put them in a sink or bowl of cold water with the solution, making sure the water covers them, then just rinse under the tap and lay them out on paper towel on the sink drainer or a table to air dry. You don’t need to take them to pieces - better not to.
    phlogiston likes this.
  8. sunshineneeded

    sunshineneeded Star commenter

    Have always used Milton, then labelled each recorder so that children had their 'own'. Good idea to request that parents buy one for their child; think lots of ours would do this.
  9. muso2

    muso2 Occasional commenter Community helper

    Check on the box/bottle, but pretty sure Milton tablets take 15 mins. If you put them in before end of lesson 1, and have a non-recorder starter for lesson 2, that should easily add up to 15mins. I'd use that rather than a wet wipe as then you know the inside of the mouthpiece has been cleaned, not just the outside.
    phlogiston likes this.

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