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Where do I start with learning the recorder?

With 3.5 million plastic recorders produced each year, it is fair to say that the instrument is retaining its popularity. Of course many young children learn to play the recorder as it helps with co-ordination. However the recorder is not reserved just for primary school children playing “Three Blind Mice”. Famous musicians Paul McCartney, Dido and Bruce Springsteen have all learnt to play the instrument. So if you’re thinking of taking up learning the recorder, your in good company.

There are many advantages of learning to play the recorder. The instrument is not expensive to buy and it does not require a specialised embouchure. Of course there are many teachers who will provide recorder lessons but due to the lack of complexity this may be an instrument which you could learn via online resources. LearnMusic.Guide links to a range of online learning sites including Learn Recorder and Joy Tunes.

Once you have mastered the basics, playing the recorder is relatively easy. Firstly you must get to grips with the fingering. There are seven holes down the front of the recorder and one at the back. Regardless of which hand you write with, the left hand always stays at the top. The next step is to learn how to blow into the instrument without it squeaking, the key is to ensure the recorder is not too far inside the mouth and to blow gently. The most difficult foundational skill is to learn how to “tongue”. Tonguing is used to begin and separate notes but there are online video tutorials to assist with this.

Top tricks for learning the recorder include:-

  1. Wear a bracelet or band on your left hand to always ensure that you have the correct hand at the top of the instrument.
  2.  For younger students , create a virtual recorder on the arm with hole reinforcers. This will help them to master the fingering without a lot of squeaking and squawking.
  3. Always make sure your recorder is correctly aligned, if not it will be difficult to produce the correct sounds.

Most young students will start with the descant recorder as it is readily available, and inexpensive. Additionally the fingering patterns are very similar to other woodwind instruments so it is a good learning tool for those who might consider learning other instruments at a later date. On the downside the descant recorder is very high pitched and there is very little serious classical repertoire. Adults may consider a treble recorder as they are interested in playing more classical music. Head down to your local music shop and have a play on a few, or take a look through our Recorder section in our store – click here.

The recorder should be practised everyday to gain real results. Unlike other instruments it does not require a specific embouchure and so there is no risk of hurting the mouth. Children might benefit from an accompanying CD to play along with.

Best of luck 🙂

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Piers Adams

Piers Adams

Erik Bosgraaf

Erik Bosgraaf

Jill Kemp

Jill Kemp