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The West Music Blog

4 Steps to Master the Recorder
By West Music Company
8/14/2015 8:49:00 AM
The recorder is a woodwind instrument similar to the clarinet and flute that produces a soft, airy tone. Its size and ease of use makes it a great first instrument for beginners or anyone with a desire to make a sound of their own. Anyone can learn the recorder by following these 4 easy steps:
1. Purchase a recorder. West Music has a wide selection of inexpensive plastic recorders – this is a great place to start – eventually you can move up to a full wood model. They will almost always come with a protective sleeve or pouch and sometimes include an instructional book.
Maintaining a recorder is very simple: wipe it down after playing, disenfect whenever possible, keep it dry, and keep it in its protective case when not in use. If you follow these easy rules your recorder should last a lifetime.

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2. Learn how to hold the recorder and make sound. Once you have your recorder, the next step is making sure you’re holding it properly. Like all woodwinds, the sound produced is heavily influenced by how the instrument interacts with your mouth and hands. Your left hand should be positioned closest to your body. Make sure the side of the mouthpiece with the hole is facing upwards (towards your face). Hold it gently between your lips and balance with your fingers – don’t bite the mouthpiece or touch it to your teeth.
Next, blow into the recorder and see what kind of sound you get. Don’t blow too hard or it will sound very harsh and unpleasant. Try to produce a smooth, consistent air flow to get a more musical sound – this is one of the most difficult, but important techniques to focus on as you begin to learn the recorder. Focus on breathing from your diaphragm, not your mouth – this will help you keep the sound consistent.

3. Learn correct tonguing technique. Your tongue is the most important tool you have to play the recorder.  Each note you play should start and stop with your tongue. Imagine you are saying “doot” or “dud” as you play the note – this will help give your notes a clear beginning and end.
At this point you’re ready to play your first note. The first note people usually lean is B. All you have to do to sound a B is to cover the back hole with your left thumb and the very first hole (closest to your body) with your left index finger. Now, gently blow into the recorder, remembering to focus on a steady air flow from your diaphragm and mouthing a “doot” or “dud”. How does it sound? If you hear squeaking, make sure your fingers are fully covering the holes and that you’re not blowing too hard. Keep working on your B until you’re comfortable moving on to a new note.

4. Learn the fingering chart. Some recorders will come with a fingering chart like the one below, if yours didn’t, they are very easy to find on the internet. Work on learning which combination of fingers produces each note, and vice versa – which note you are producing based on your fingers. Learning any song you want will be much easier once you have a basic understanding of all the notes your recorder can make.
Using the chart below, give these simple tunes a try:

Mary Had a Little Lamb:
        B A G A B B B
        A A A
        B D' D'
        B A G A B B B
        A A B A G
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star:
        D D A A B B A
        G G F# F# E E D

Ok, so you may not be an expert quite yet, but with these tips and some quality practice, you’ll be a recorder master in no time. Just remember, if it doesn’t sound quite right at first, don’t give up. The greatest musicians in the world started out just like you. You can accomplish great things with perseverance and determination.

If you think you're ready to take your skills to the next level, West Music offers professional lessons at each of our six locations. Click here to sign up for individual or group lessons at the West Music nearest you!

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Tags: recorder, learn recorder, easy, beginner, woodwind, fingering chart, simple
Categories: Recorders, Music Education
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