Playing tight - getting a feel for good timing
Hardly any other instrument is as ubiquitous among children and adolescents as the recorder. This is mainly due to the compact size of the instrument, the speed at which initial learning progresses and, of course, the fact that some of us are already familiar with the recorder from elementary school. So it is obvious that the recorder is an entry into the big world of instruments for many music enthusiasts. But how exactly can you learn to play the recorder and what tips should beginners keep in mind? We have a few tips for you:
The recorder has been an instrument here in Europe for thousands of years. It is now one of the most important woodwind instruments and has a long and traditional history behind it. Above all, the enormous variety of types and the associated possibilities for musical design were already an advantage of this instrument during the Renaissance. Its tones could be heard from soprano to bass.
While the recorder was already part of public life in the Middle Ages and gained in importance during the Renaissance, its heyday was the Baroque period. During this time, the recorder developed into a real fashionable instrument at the royal courts, while the wide range of sounds expanded even more over time. Even in its design, the recorder has continued to develop to this day.
There are many things to consider when choosing your first recorder. Above all, the fingering of the instrument plays an important role in order to be able to really play the flute, and for that you need the right size. The German fingering is different from the baroque fingering, although the German variant was deliberately chosen for many years. The only problem is that the German version has a poorer intonation, which can sometimes make playing seem unclean.
Nevertheless, the German fingering is the most common and popular, especially for beginners. The baroque recorder is simply more difficult to learn, since a special “fork” fingering has to be performed to play the “F" note. Many learning concepts address this problem by keeping the tone out of practice pieces entirely. This saves beginners a later switch when learning the recorder. Almost everyone who begins with the German variant switches to baroque fingering as they progress.
As soon as you have found the right instrument for you, it comes down to perseverance and motivation. The first pieces in particular are often the most difficult, since the tone—especially with a recorder—only sounds clean when the fingerings are already in place. Even if the first pieces may sound very unclean and ugly at first, you are usually only a few millimeters away from learning how to play the recorder. So don't let weird tones unsettle you when practicing.
It is also very important that you do not devote yourself to your dream pieces with complicated tone sequences right from the start. It is clear that you, like many other musicians, want to play your favorite pieces, but it takes a little practice first. This is something people tend to ignore, but believe us when we tell you that skipping the “easy” lessons only leads to frustration. Learning to play the recorder is a journey and you should follow it from cover to cover, as the textbooks recommend.
Your learning process depends on a few basics. These make it easier to devote yourself to pieces from the beginning with success and to make noticeable progress with each new learning unit. You should keep the following details in mind when learning to play the recorder:
Based on the many songs in the textbooks, you have different fingering options for the recorder. Fingering charts are a visual aide to make sure so that things don't get too complicated. Circles indicate when and which tone holes should be covered, half-covered, or remain open. This will help you learn to play the recorder even faster and memorize the combinations.
Although you can play the recorder naturally by memorizing notes, the best way to learn to play the recorder is to learn how to read music. This gives you significantly more options to learn new pieces without memorizing the notes. Once you get used to the ins and outs of the staff, you'll find it easy to play. For more tips on reading sheet music, click here.
As soon as you have internalized the theoretical knowledge, it's time to put it into practice. One of the big challenges is holding your recorder correctly. Maintain a 45 degree angle to your body while keeping your arms slightly bent as you play. The mouthpiece is then placed between the lips and at the same time enclosed as loosely as possible. When learning, make sure that your body is straight and that your head is straight.
In order to maintain the optimal tonality of your recorder for as long as possible, you should ensure that your instrument is cleaned at regular intervals. Simply use the small, round brush that you received when you bought your recorder. To prevent saliva from getting stuck in the flute, you should take care of the instrument after each use if possible.
The best way to do this is to disassemble your recorder into its individual parts. You can then wipe the components with a lint-free cloth and then let them dry at normal room temperature. If you own a wooden recorder, oiling is also an important task to keep in mind. However, this only has to be done about two to three times a year. This not only ensures a smooth feel when playing, but also avoids scratches.
How exactly you progress when playing and learning the recorder is always a question of the daily effort and your willingness to practice. Digital aids can also be useful to have the notes explained to you in more detail or to learn the correct fingering technique. Many music schools no longer only work with the classic textbook and the sheet music for your pieces, but also include digital alternatives. Digital components can also quickly become a good supplement for your own learning at home.
Only a few instruments demand correct finger position as strongly (and the associated fingering) as the recorder. If you get used to it the wrong way, re-learning won't be easy. This is roughly comparable to the guitar, about which we have already summarized some information for you here. We therefore recommend going to a music school or private teachers, especially for the first learning units, and getting help from real music teachers. It is important that you get feedback on your finger position right from the beginning so you can play the recorder correctly. After you've mastered the basics, you can still decide whether you want to continue going to physical classes or continue practicing on your own.
With the right tips and hints, it's not difficult to get started playing your recorder. The combination of correct posture, knowledge of the instrument, and the necessary motivation will allow you to make rapid progress. If you want to talk to other musicians about your instrument and learning to play the recorder, you can always do so here at mukken. With our contact ads for musicians, we have created a new form of communication that you can use to ask your questions and network. Please register directly for free.
Originally published on January 29, 2022, updated on January 29, 2022
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