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Good place to start with recorder?


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#16 Aquarelle

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Posted 30 July 2020 - 08:54

Misterioso this is probably far too easy for you but I thought i wouod mention it anyway. There exists a recorder tutor br Sarah Watts called "Two at a Time". It  comes with a CD and teaches descant and treble together from the beginning. I have successfully used it with classes of top juniors who have a (very) basic knowledge of the descant. I have introduced the treble at this stage to improve motivation and get them playing in 2 parts. The book works well and the children love it.

 

In my private lessons I am sometimes asked to teach flute and then when parents realise the cost of a flute they back down. I then suggest treble recorder and this often takes off well. In this case I teach the descant after the treble is well underway. The descant is regarded very badly here as generations of school children suffered the torture of very bad recorder teaching in their class music lessons - until its use was removed from the curriculum as it was deemed to be counter productive. (I won't go into what other counter- productive elements replaced it!) 

 

I have ignored that and have continued to teach descant on the grounds that it is the only instrument many French children will ever have had the opportuinity to learn - but I don't let it become anything like what it used to be in the hands of unqualified music teachers. My "window" for parents is the Christmas Celebration where many parents hear children playing descants properly for the first time in their lives.

 

Of course this is all now on hold until the sanitary restrictions are lifted and we can blow again.


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#17 Misterioso

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 19:36

Gosh - alto is quite tough on the fingers for a flautist! I find it a tad difficult to keep ALL the required holes covered with such a stretch between the fingers, which leads to a very unreliable tone - but then it's early days. Today's new note is top G; what's the best way to balance the recorder when you only have one finger down and the right hand thumb to support it? It feels very precarious.


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#18 elemimele

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 20:37

... it's less secure if you're holding the recorder more vertical, more secure if you're holding it sticking out at an angle more like the spout of a gargoyle... ideally on top G you have your lower lip and right thumb pushing upwards and your left middle finger pushing downwards, so the recorder is still being held in a positive sense, but if you've got a lot of stuff going on in the left hand and the right little finger is doing nothing, you can also use the right little finger to steady the instrument.

But I will probably get told I'm giving you bad advice! This is because what you don't want to do is let spare fingers get paralysed in a grip-of-steel holding the instrument, so that they're not flexible to move when they need to, to play notes. The technique of consciously blocking spare holes that make no difference at the far end of the instrument, in order to hold it more securely, is called buttress fingering, but feelings run high about whether it's OK. Slightly confusingly, it also gets mixed up with preparing a fingering, which is where, for example, you're going to need the right little finger or ring finger on its hole for the next note, but it actually makes no difference whatsoever to this note. To make the transition easier, you can put that finger down in advance, now, ready for the next note. There are some exercises in Alan Davis' excellent "Treble recorder technique"; super interesting, but I'm not clever enough to do it in practice. 

I think the finger-stretch thing is a matter of getting used to it, and to the very different position of holding a recorder. I'm the other way round: I find my baroque flute more of a stretch than recorder, even though I think there's little difference in general size. It's just we're used to having a different angle on things. Good luck!

(incidentally, I sympathise: I'm having quite a crisis on the baroque flute with C# in the bottom octave. My aulos finger chart gives it as no fingers whatsoever, while the book I have gives it as little-finger-on-key only. I'm really not confident using the key, find it noisy and uncomfortable, and a very insecure way to hold an instrument compared to touching a non-moving part like a real hole - and the key actually changes the pitch, which might explain why the book also says "roll the instrument out a little". So I have a choice of hold-with-no-hands or hold-with-one-little-finger-on-something-that-wiggles-while-changing-angle (which on top of my embouchure, politely described as "insecure", is a lot to ask...).


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#19 Misterioso

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 09:42

Thanks, elemimele, I will try it out this evening. Yes, the finger stretch thing is, as you say, a matter of practice - especially for someone like me with small hands. :unsure:

No doubt I'll be back before long with more "how do I do this?" questions.

Good luck with your C#. My G issue sounds like child's play in comparison to your holding with no hands ! :notWorthy:


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#20 andante_in_c

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 10:13

I tend to hold my left hand in flute position when playing the recorder, and have had it commented on by teachers as it really should be squarer to the instrument. That does help with reaching the left hand third finger hole. 

 

The other thing that might help is improvising a right hand thumb rest with a blob of blu-tac. That can make the instrument feel much steadier.


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#21 Misterioso

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Posted 17 August 2020 - 18:45

Back to the drawing board. :(

 

Due to a recent misadventure, I have been left with an injured shoulder which might, I think, take a while to sort out as it's also riddled with inflammatory arthritis. So I'm wondering if I might be better off for now with a sopranino  - which I have a yen for anyway. From posts above, I think I can play treble music on it as the fingering is the same - is that right? There would be less stretch involved, and less weight, and it just might be something I could still manage while I am unable to play my other instruments. I get miserably depressed if I can't play anything.

 

I'm thinking of splashing out and buying my own, especially as I have a birthday approaching in 7 weeks time. And I'm thinking of a wooden one. Pros and cons, please? Can anyone suggest a suitable make and model? Many thanks in advance.


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#22 elemimele

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Posted 17 August 2020 - 20:16

yes, sopranino has the same fingering as treble, but in any case if you don't mind the result coming out at a transposed pitch, you can play on any size of instrument that is comfortable. I can't advise on wood, but do ask around, shop around; weights can vary a lot (especially amongst plastic instruments, but I assume there is variation in wood too). If you find you have stretchy problems it's also worth seeing if you can find an instrument that suits your hands - there is variation in where the finger-holes go, depending on the overall design. I don't know what the situation is, now that we're in corona-times, but in the good old days, the early music shop (and I believe other suppliers) did sale-or-return, and could offer a lot of advice too. Good luck!


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#23 Zixi

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Posted 18 August 2020 - 06:14

I have one. They're tiny, extremely light and surprisingly sweet sounding. Mine's plastic.

 

Agree with everything elemimele says about stretch. If you didn't play the flute, I'd also add that sometimes it's about holding the instrument properly. When I started out, a slight deformity on my right little finger meant the stretch for my right hand was awkward but once I learned to hold the thing properly, I don't notice the 'issue' until I get to the treble... However, in your case that clearly won't be the issue. :)


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#24 Misterioso

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Posted 18 August 2020 - 09:57

If you find you have stretchy problems it's also worth seeing if you can find an instrument that suits your hands - there is variation in where the finger-holes go, depending on the overall design. I don't know what the situation is, now that we're in corona-times, but in the good old days, the early music shop (and I believe other suppliers) did sale-or-return, and could offer a lot of advice too.

 

Thanks, elemimele, that's helpful to know. I will have a look at the Early Music Shop website, and maybe give them a call.

 

I have one. They're tiny, extremely light and surprisingly sweet sounding. Mine's plastic.

 

Agree with everything elemimele says about stretch. If you didn't play the flute, I'd also add that sometimes it's about holding the instrument properly. When I started out, a slight deformity on my right little finger meant the stretch for my right hand was awkward but once I learned to hold the thing properly, I don't notice the 'issue' until I get to the treble... However, in your case that clearly won't be the issue. :)

Thank you, Zixi. Would you mind sharing what make yours is?


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#25 elemimele

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Posted 18 August 2020 - 10:20

... if anyone stumbles across this thread who has serious hand disabilities, there are also instruments out there that are made in rings so all the holes can be turned to whatever angle suits your particular hand, and to allow you to use wrong fingers, and generally adapt to whatever works. This is aulos' version.


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#26 Zixi

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Posted 18 August 2020 - 11:35

@ Misterioso - Mine's a Dolmetsch Nova. It was a present from my husband several years ago. He bought it for me from EMS and I did try others at the time. I'd only just started playing so I was too embarrassed to try them out for very long but we did both prefer the sound of the Dolmetsch! Now, of course, I couldn't care less what anyone thought of my playing - if they bothered to listen! :lol:  I think you may well like the sopranino. Mine is extremely light, looks very smart and as I said, the sound is very sweet. I thought it would sound like a sports whistle... but it doesn't. 


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#27 Misterioso

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Posted 18 August 2020 - 13:16

I had wondered about the sound, so it's encouraging to read that your sounds so sweet. I've just been browsing the EMS website, and really think it has to be wood. :wub:

Please, someone, what is "baroque fingering?" :unsure:

 

Edit: Zixi, did you try any wooden recorders?


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#28 Maizie

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Posted 18 August 2020 - 20:10

Baroque (or sometimes English) fingering is the standard fingering for recorder, that has been around since for ever.

German fingering was invented in the 20th century to be 'easier'.  German fingering is logical, on a descant B is your thumb and one finger, then for A you add one more finger, G one more, F one more, E one more and so on.  This is supposedly easier for people to learn.

The trouble is, for many higher notes and flats and sharps, your recorder will be somewhere between a bit out of tune and hopelessly out of tune.  You would have to learn all sorts of convoluted fingerings to get close to the right note, and have to admit defeat that some notes are impossible.

Basically, avoid German fingering like the plague.  Stick with Baroque/English/standard fingering.

The fifth hole size is a giveaway, see here: http://www.saundersr...s.com/holes.htm

Be suspiciuos of eBay bargains where the photographs don't include the front of the instrument...


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#29 Zixi

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Posted 19 August 2020 - 04:18

Misterioso - I don't think so. I think it was around 3 plastic ones... it's quite a long time ago or at least a lot has happened since! :lol:


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#30 Zixi

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Posted 19 August 2020 - 12:15

Try Sarah Jeffrey on the sopranino. I haven't watched all of it but she certainly doesn't like the Dolmetsch! :lol:

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=Gy_Gf3j5BG8

 

Sadly, Saunders Recorders seem to have lost most of its sound files. John has retired and is presumably selling what's left; or I'd have suggested looking there too.


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