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A retired Minnesota teacher has come up with a way for Carrie Lee music students to play their recorders

Posted: Thu, Dec 17, 2020 10:32 AM

One of the main activities in 4th grade music at Carrie Lee Elementary is playing the recorder.  However, due to the nature of the instrument, it wasn't safe to play indoors without protection against spreading COVID-19.  Music companies have been creating bell and mouth covers for many band instruments, but nothing specifically designed for recorders.

That's where Mike Ellingsen, a retired public school music teacher from Minnesota who recently moved to Decorah, came in.  Ellingson is both a skilled recorder player and avid quilter with a specialty in pattern design.  Carrie Lee Elementary music teacher Sarah Zbornik contacted Ellingsen and discussed what was needed for safety while allowing students to create a sound and play the instrument correctly.

That's what led Ellingsen to create what he calls the "Recorder Safety Bag."  It's an intricate design, so it needs seasoned sewers to create the bags. Six members of the Winneshiek County Seamsters Union--Shirley Vermace, Jeri Laursen, Marcy Erickson, Maureen Antoine Stockman, Laurel Womeldorf and Bonnie Rinken--cut and sewed 120 recorder bags: one for each fourth grade student. Ellingsen donated the materials.

The collaboration was a success--Carrie Lee students have now started using the Recorder Safety Bags and playing indoors.