Me and the Recorder

I haven’t posted anything new in a while now. The reason being that I’m very preoccupied with something at the moment when I get home from work. That is, I’m self-teaching myself to play the recorder properly. By recorder, I meant that flute-like musical instrument that is almost usually mistaken by the uninitiated as a flute.

I actually picked up the recorder when I was still in Canberra and I needed something to do to help pass the time. I hadn’t touched my old cheap plastic recorder for quite some time but recently, something — I cannot remember what — triggered my desire to pick it up again. Only, this time, I’m going to learn it more properly. Well, as properly as I could without the benefit of a music teacher.

Although I was taught to play the piano when I was younger, I never really took to it. I was just overwhelmed by it. Later on, I self-taught myself to play the basic chords on a classical guitar. That was at least something I felt I could get into but I found carrying a guitar around to be rather cumbersome. So, one day in a music shop in Canberra, when I was thinking of picking up another musical instrument to study, I decided I wanted an instrument that is portable, low maintenance and monophonic (I don’t have time to master an instrument that could play multiple notes at the same time).

Then I saw a bunch of cheap unnamed-brand plastic recorders on the cashier’s counter. Hmm. It was selling for something like less than five dollars. I thought that if I didn’t like it, I could always go for another instrument. Another thing that influenced me to pick up the recorder was me remembering that my brother had a Yamaha recorder back in the Philippines. I thought, it must not be that difficult to learn if he played it.

I’m fairly sure my brother intended to play pop tunes on his recorder. I, on the other hand, intended to be fairly competent on the recorder enough to be able to play solo renaissance folk music or classical music with it (which I like, by the way). Sure, I also play pop tunes on my recorder now which I learned by ear but I think such an instrument is better suited for those old tunes of yore.

I discovered that some of the notes were difficult to play on my recorder. And some of the notes I could play didn’t sound as nice as I’d hope. Anyway, I didn’t devote much time to studying it when I was in Canberra and I completely forgot about it when I moved to Melbourne last year.

But this month, my interest in the recorder was renewed unexpectedly. Maybe I was inspired by the city musician buskers. Maybe it was a movie I watched recently. Maybe it was because I saw these recorder lesson books at the library by coincidence. Whatever the reason, I decided to continue teaching myself the recorder. I started from the beginning again and this time, I’m making sure I learn to read the notes and execute them properly.

So now, I try to devote an hour a day (at least) to practicing the musical instrument. And when I’m not doing that, I’m doing online research about the recorder: its history, free score sheets for it, mailing list for it, etc. From my research, I discovered that the recorder was used as an introduction to music in schools. Well, not in the Philippines, as far as I know. If that’s true, then I’m learning a musical instrument that is considered by many here or in the Western world as a kid’s toy. And that’s probably why the flute I bought in Canberra was selling for cheap.

After doing further research, I also discovered that although plastic recorders were considered by most serious recorder players to be inferior to wood-made recorders, there were branded plastic recorders that played quite well and is sometimes even better than the cheapest wooden recorder. The Yamaha brand was recommended by some so one day, I took a trip to Allans Music Store in the city to look for a Yamaha plastic recorder.

I was able to buy one for $38 which was slightly more expensive than my older recorder but still quite inexpensive. When I got home, I played the same tunes I played on the old recorder and was pleasantly surprised to find out that the notes sounded a lot better on the new recorder. Also, I found that some of the notes I had difficulty with on the old recorder to be easily playable on the new recorder.

Now, armed with a new plastic recorder, I intend to master it to a certain degree. I have no illusions of becoming a professional/master recorder player but I hope to be competent enough on the instrument that I could comfortably play it wherever I go and not get thrown at with eggs and tomatoes. When I’m skilled enough with the recorder, maybe I could perform in one of those renaissance fairs or even along one busy sidewalk in the city.

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Published in: on November 16, 2005 at 10:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

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