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 Recorder - Sorry if too off-topic
Author: Alex M. 
Date:   2006-08-07 17:25

Hello, All,

We would like to start our 6-year-old son on the recorder. I'm not sure where else to go for advice, so I start here with my favorite forum; you've all been a terrific help with clarinet issues.

For the recorder, I am interested in:

1. General advice
2. Brands
3. Models
4. Instruction and practice books
5. Teaching methods
6. Anything else I am too ignorant to know I don't know...

Thanks in advance, and I'm sorry if this is too off-topic, Mark.

Alex M.
Massachusetts

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 Re: Recorder - Sorry if too off-topic
Author: neil.clarinet 
Date:   2006-08-07 18:09

Hi Alex

I play the recorder myself but I'm afraid I can't be of great help. For beginner plastic, I would highly recommend Yamaha 302B descant and treble. Aulos 300 and 500 series are supposed to be good as well, and Dolmetsch Nova. Don't know about teaching materials, to an extent it depends what you can get (ie shops/websites you can use) Maybe there will be a recorder BBoard some time. Another place to get great recorder advice if you haven't tried is forums.abrsm.org.

Just a word of advice, cheap wooden recorders are in fact worse than good plastic, even if more expensive. Bizzare, but true.

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 Re: Recorder - Sorry if too off-topic
Author: Jack Kissinger 
Date:   2006-08-07 18:13

There are people on the board more expert than I on this topic but I did play in a decent recorder quartet for several years.

1. General advice. The recorders you will look at come in two keys, C (soprano, tenor) and F (sopranino, alto, bass). Recorders are not "transposing instruments." Therefore the fingering chart for a C recorder is different from the fingering chart for an F recorder. As an introduction to music and instruments, I think a C soprano would be your best choice and I would recommend you make sure your instruction book is for the C recorder.

2. Brands. For a beginner, I would recommend a plastic Yamaha. They are inexpensive and have pretty decent intonation. I don't like the (also widely-available) Aulos all that much.

3. Models. For a beginner, the basic model should be fine. Yamaha also makes plastic (soprano and alto) models with a simulated wood finish. Those with the simulated wood finish are only a little more expensive but look very nice and, some of my recorder-playing friends think they have a little better feel/sound. Given the price, I might be tempted to go with one of them.

4. Instruction and Practice Books. I think a good place to start (many consider it the standard) is the Trapp Family Singers' "Enjoy Your Recorder." Exercises and simple tunes to begin with. Later, the pieces become more challenging. Duets throughout. Also some trios and quartets. Again, make sure you get the version (M-1) for C-Soprano and C-Tenor.

5. Teaching Methods. Why not buy a recorder for everyone in the family and set aside a little time each day to make it a family activity? Later, when you've all mastered the basics of the C, adults/older children (if any) can take on the alto and tenor for duets and trios. (Note: Even plastic basses are fairly expensive (usually over $200) and require that you read bass clef.)

6. Other stuff. I'll leave that to folks who know more than I.

Best regards,
jnk



Post Edited (2006-08-07 18:18)

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 Re: Recorder - Sorry if too off-topic
Author: tictactux 2017
Date:   2006-08-07 18:14

1. General advice
Do not force anything on your child. If it doesn't want, wait. Pressure is the best method to drive him away from music for a long time

2. Brands
Yamaha

3. Models
We got a plastic soprano Yamaha recorder (3 parts), somewhere in the 20$ range (YRS-302b I guess). Very good instrument considered the price. I wouldn't go much cheaper. (BTDTGTT - been there, done that, got the T-shirt)

4. Instruction and practice books
Beats me - ask a teacher

5. Teaching methods
See 4.

6. Anything else I am too ignorant to know I don't know...
Start slowly. Your son has plenty of time. Are there any potential comrades for him? (I know class is funnier when not alone).

--
Ben

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 Re: Recorder - Sorry if too off-topic
Author: J B Lansing 
Date:   2006-08-07 18:29

Hi,
I have been involved with early music for some time and know my way around recorders.
I see you are from Massechusetts. If you are close to Boston, visit Von Huene workshop on route 9 in Brookline and talk to Eric Haas or Nick Von Huene. They cah advise you on all on your questions. This is a highly repudable shop and Frederick Vo Huene is one of the pioneers and fathers of the modern professional quality recorder.
You really cannot go wrong with Yamaha plastic recorders they have very good intonation and all seem to play equally well. They are often the choice for people who are learning a new size and dont want to spend a lot . Sopranos run under $40 and would be the best choice to start, especally for a six year old. It probably is q good idea to find a teacher. You might check the American Recorder Society website for members in your area. If you live south of Boston, I can put you in touch with a good one. E-mail me. Does your school have a program?
J B Lansing

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 Re: Recorder - Sorry if too off-topic
Author: Alex M. 
Date:   2006-08-07 18:38

Thanks for the posts.

Jack, what great and detailed advice! I especially like the reference to the Trapp book--our children love the Sound of Music, and I suspect we'll enjoy the connection.

My wife is a very fine flute player, and I am a beginning clarinetist. To answer Ben's very real concern about pushing our son too early, he has shown great interest in learning an instrument in response to watching us practice and play.

I also really like Jack's suggestion that we all play together. My daughter is not yet ready for this, but at a minimum, my son and I can play. I've always wanted to learn the recorder, and this is a great opportunity! Maybe we can get my wife to join in.

I note Ben's comment about an instrument in 3 pieces. Are recorders commonly in 3 pieces? If so, is it for storage and cleaning purposes? What are the 3 pieces--mouthpiece, body, bell? Should I avoid 1-piece instruments?

Thanks again,

Alex M.
Massachusetts

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 Re: Recorder - Sorry if too off-topic
Author: tictactux 2017
Date:   2006-08-07 19:31

Alex,

Most recorders (sopran[in]o down to alto at least) are usually in three pieces - one the head joint with the mouthpiece, one the main/middle section, the third one being the foot joint which has the pinky finger hole.
Having a separate foot joint allows the pinky hole to be twisted - against the main section - into a comfortable position, this is especially important with younger children.
One-pieced recorders in the classic sense (ie not folklore or fun instruments etc) should be avoided, they can't even be properly swabbed.

--
Ben

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 Re: Recorder - Sorry if too off-topic
Author: Jack Kissinger 
Date:   2006-08-07 19:38

I think that Yamaha makes its plastic soprano (and larger) recorders in three pieces. The wood-grain one I have is a 3-piece. Because the recorder is essentially a flute, it probably makes more sense to compare it's sections to those of a flute. The top section is the mouthpiece and corresponds to the head joint of a flute (or the mouthpiece and barrel on the clarinet). The middle section is the body and corresponds to the body of a flute or (roughly) to the upper and lower joints on the clarinet, minus the right hand cluster keys). The bottom section corresponds to the foot-joint of a flute (it has tone holes for the pinky) or roughly to the bell of a clarinet and section of the lower joint that has the right-hand cluster keys.

On the smaller recorders, the purpose of the sections is to allow for some tuning adjustments (and, perhaps to mimic the design of more expensive, good quality wooden instruments). Plastic alto recorders and smaller are usually stored fully assembled. Yamaha plastic sopraninos are two-piece (no separate foot joint) - similar, I think, to piccolos. The only garkleins (smallest of the recorders) I've seen were one-piece (about as much hope of tuning one of them as an eefer :) ).

Recorder is a natural doubling instrument for a flutist so your wife might find it fun to take up. And it might help greatly if she would get involved, even if only to play along on her flute. What will impress your son is the fact that, in the right hands, a recorder is a real musical instrument, not just a toy.

Weiner Music has very good prices on Yamaha recorders (and pictures).

http://www.weinermusic.com/


Best regards,
jnk



Post Edited (2006-08-07 19:40)

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 Re: Recorder - Sorry if too off-topic
Author: D 
Date:   2006-08-07 20:21

I have mostly Yamaha recorders and they are good for the money. the Sopranino (the one smaller than the descant/soprano and in F) is not as good as the corresponding Aulos - mine is pretty bad and I have never heard another sound very good either. The Descant/soprano, alto, tenor and bass are all very acceptable though. If you go for Aulos then have a look at the 500 series and if you can get someone to play the 500 and 300 at you and you hear a difference then you know it will be worth the extra money. I would also advocate seeing if you can find a group for your child to play in as soon as possible. A community group with very mixed ages and abilities is ideal. This is a great social experience for children, but also serves as a fun outlet on days when practice seems a little dull or something technical is proving a problem. Music is about fun for the 99% of us not trying to make a living from it! Another thing, don't rule out jazz. There is no reason why the recorder has to stick to classical/renaissance/folk/baroque etc. And, see if you can get hold of some recordings of some really good recorder players - proof it is a real instrument! Evelyn Nallen springs to mind for one. Another thing you might like to pick up is a cheap plastic fife. Yamaha and Aulos both make them - the Yammy is about Five punds sterling. You flute playing other half might find it amusing and it would be a good thing for your littelen to have a go on.

Sounds like you are going to be having fun.

Final thought - get a book of christmas carols and give a little festive concert for your relatives or friends, or patient neighbours who have suffered through all the practicing.

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 Re: Recorder - Sorry if too off-topic
Author: tictactux 2017
Date:   2006-08-07 20:41

> get a book of christmas carols and give a little festive concert for your
> relatives or friends, or patient neighbours who have suffered through
> all the practicing.

Why torture them twice? [wink]

I vividly remember the traditional christmas concert (last day in the year) in school. Twenty very different pupils; twenty soprano recorders, not two of them exactly in tune with each other. <shudders>

But the concept of "family music" is certainly an tempting invitation for children. (my daughter is looking forward to her first piano lessons so that she can join me in annoying the neighbours [tongue])

--
Ben

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 Re: Recorder - Sorry if too off-topic
Author: Alex M. 
Date:   2006-08-07 20:48

When my wife and I practice duets, my son (6) and daughter (3) dig out their plastic toy "flutes", harmonica, children's guitar, xylophone, etc. and "accompany" us. We're hoping to allow him (and eventually, them) to accompany us more constructively with a real instrument. After reading all of these posts, I think I will take up the recorder along with him to help reinforce it, and have some fun.

Alex M.
Massachusetts

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 Re: Recorder - Sorry if too off-topic
Author: Terry Stibal 
Date:   2006-08-07 21:34

One of the most enjoyable experiences that I've ever had was with the St. Louis area yearly musical competition back in the 1960's. In addition to the usual solos, trios, duets and the like on "normal" instruments, one year a group of like-minded folks at my high school pulled together a recorder group.

I don't recall what it was that we played (something with a pretty pedestrian bass line, says the "fake bassoon" player of the group), and I remember that the "horns" were begged and borrowed from multiple sources. We worked it up over a month or two of after school systems, and were quite the wonder when we showed up with "flutaphones" instead of our real horns for that one session.

Personally, I'd rather avoid the uneven spacing and cross fingerings that are part and parcel of the fipple flute world. But, it sure was worth it.

leader of Houston's Sounds Of The South Dance Orchestra
info@sotsdo.com

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 Re: Recorder - Sorry if too off-topic
Author: David Peacham 
Date:   2006-08-08 08:14

I played the recorder for many years, starting at age 8, and find little to argue with in what's been said.

But bear in mind that your son may not be too young to start an orchestral/band instrument. Julian Bliss, famously, started playing the clarinet at four. Teachers will tell you that you can't start till you are big and strong and have your permanent teeth - but it isn't true.

See also http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/read.html?f=1&i=181285&t=181285.

-----------

If there are so many people on this board unwilling or unable to have a civil and balanced discussion about important issues, then I shan't bother to post here any more.

To the great relief of many of you, no doubt.


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 Re: Recorder - Sorry if too off-topic
Author: CJB 
Date:   2006-08-08 12:43

And please please please don't ever think 'they are recorders therefore they are out of tune' they can be played in tune through a combination of pulling out the head joint and not overblowing.

There are some good 2 piece descants out there but for a 6 year old the ability to twist the foot joint to a comfy position would be good. The Yamaha 302B is my favourite of the current plastic models - go on buy one for all the family, they are so cheap that it doesn't matter if they get a bit chewed up. But are nice toned instruments with good intonation.

I learnt descant (soprano) recorder from age 6 with my Dad, it was one of the few things that was special one on one time together. He had played a bit at school but forgotten most of it. We worked through the beginner book together.....until his lack of practicing and general slow pace got annoying and I took the book to my bedroom!

Be warned though recorders are addictive and can get exceedingly expensive........first you get into different sizes........then into wood........then into different woods.

Have fun :)

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 Re: Recorder - Sorry if too off-topic
Author: joannew 
Date:   2006-08-08 18:38

>>Recorders are not "transposing instruments." Therefore the fingering chart for a C recorder is different from the fingering chart for an F recorder.<<

Therefore one who learns both the C and F recorders will be in an ideal position to pick up a clarinet, as both chalumeau and clarion registers will feel familiar.



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 Re: Recorder - Sorry if too off-topic
Author: Gordon (NZ) 
Date:   2006-08-09 10:06

Unfortunately they go sharp when played loud, and flat when played soft. Unlike flutes, this cannot be compensated for by embouchure, altering airstream direction.

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 Re: Recorder - Sorry if too off-topic
Author: CJB 
Date:   2006-08-09 11:11

As Gordon says there are some inherant tuning issues with recorders. But by accepting the more limited dynamic range than with the clarinet (feeble attempt to get back 'on topic') and by using alternative sharp/flat fingerings, shading/half holing they can be played in tune. They are evil little beasts once into nasty key signatures mostly because of all the cross fingerings needed.

*steps down from soap box.......I must learn not to jump on it whenever the subject of recorder intonation comes up.

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 Re: Recorder - Sorry if too off-topic
Author: beejay 
Date:   2006-08-13 00:34

One of the conservatories near where I live starts young musicians on the chalumeau rather than the recorder on the basis that it is easier to switch later to the clarinet. The fingering is said to be no more difficult than on a recorder. But the instrument is considerably more expensive.

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 Re: Recorder - Sorry if too off-topic
Author: 3dogmom 
Date:   2006-08-13 01:55

Recorder instruction is part of my third-grade curriculum. Those of you who hate the sound of recorders being played together haven't lived until you have heard 120 kids playing "Hot Cross Buns" together. Yikes.

I will say that I think it sounds great, and it sounds even better when all those kids who loved the recorder show up next year to sign up for band.

I would just like to suggest that you check out resources on music education websites, like Music K12 or Clarus Music, and pay particular attention to materials by Don Muro. There are some neat materials that are laid out sequentially with recorded accompaniment.

Sometimes we musicians (me included) are so thrilled that our kids want to make music that we can overdo it with wonderful materials and instruction, and the child can be put off by all this enthusiasm - sort of a "gee, my parent wants this me to do it so much, it must be boring". Or maybe it was just me. Anyway, have fun with it.

Sue Tansey

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