My Recorder Obsession

A while back, I have posted about being preoccupied with my recorder, which is a flute-like musical instrument for those of you who didn’t know. And just to make sure you know exactly what I’m talking about, you can click on the thumbnail at the left to see my Yamaha YRS-302BII Soprano/Descant Recorder.

Now, that’s all cleared up, I can continue with my actual post. My recorder playing has turned from being a mere preoccupation to a sort of obsession. I’ve been all over the Internet finding any form of music that used recorders. Most free music to be had were early Medieval or Renaissance music. I’m not complaining, really, as I actually love everything Medieval or Renaissance: languages, culture, history, art, architecture and, of course, music.

There were also classical music that used recorders mainly from the composers Georg Philipp Telemann and Antonio Vivaldi. Fortunately for me, the local libraries have Audio CDs of classical music which used recorders so I borrowed all of them that I could get my hands on.

The recorder music I’ve acquired further inspired me to become a better recorder player. And so, I’ve been practicing for an average of one hour almost everyday to advance my level of competence with the instrument. I’m so itching to become very good with the recorder that I couldn’t wait.

Unfortunately, my desire to fast track my skill advancement sometimes leads to frustration. Last week, I realised that even with a better quality instrument, not all the notes could easily be produced on the recorder. My main weakness is producing the low C note in which I have to press on all the holes. Sounds easy but when I blow on the recorder, I got a squeakish sound instead of a full C note. This annoyed me a lot.

No matter how much I tried to cover all the holes, I must have been doing something wrong because I keep getting squeaks instead of the C note. I then conceded that I may need additional assistance from a teacher. Or maybe I just needed a better method book (a book of instruction on how to play an instrument).

It’s fortunate that one of the biggest music instrument shops in Melbourne, Allans Music, had its “Biggest Ever Sale” last weekend. I usually go to their Melbourne store but last Saturday, I decided to try their store over at Kew (east of Melbourne).

It was great! They seem to have a larger collection of music sheets and method books for recorders there (or at least they were better organised). They also had lots more brands and models of plastic recorders there than the Melbourne branch. I was tempted to buy another recorder, maybe an Alto. But I decided that I must master the Soprano recorder first before undertaking another version of the instrument.

Since they were on sale, lots of their wares were about 20% off. I’ve had always wanted to buy a music stand (that thing where I can put my music sheets to read while playing) and that day, I was able to get one that was less than $20. What a steal. I also bought two music books plus an instruction book by Walter Van Hauwe: The Modern Recorder Player Volume 1.

When I got home, I quickly read Van Hauwe’s book and found out how to properly hold a recorder. After that, I was able to play the dreaded low C note properly! Well, not 100% of the time, but often enough that it motivated me to continue playing.

As of this writing, I’m almost done with Stephen Goodyear’s The New Recorder Tutor Book One. I know I’m still far from being a maestro recorder player but I will certainly strive to be one.

Before I end this post, I’d like to point out some reasons as to why I want to play the recorder (as opposed to another instrument):

  1. It’s portable. The soprano recorder (and even the alto) is small enough to carry everywhere I go. The soprano recorder is like a foot long and could usually be separated into two or three smaller parts. When I feel like playing, I can just pull it out and quickly play some tunes.
  2. It doesn’t need much maintenance (the plastic recorders, at least, don’t). I can play it for as long and as often as I like and all I have to do to clean it is to wash it in water.
  3. It was easy to learn the first basic notes. When I learned the basic notes, I could already play some popular tunes. It gave me a feeling of accomplishment and motivated me to go on learning the rest of the notes.
  4. It is a monophonic instrument. When I was learning the piano, I had to learn to read multiple notes and play them all at the same time. With the recorder, I only have to read an play one note at a time.

These are just a few of my reasons I’m into recorders right now. If you decide you want to take up the recorder, just pop by your nearest music instrument shop and buy a Yamaha YRS-302BII plastic recorder (like I did). It’s considered the best quality plastic recorder around (even better than some of the wooden recorders which is traditionally considered better than plastic). It’s only AU$38 so it’s not a big investment if you decide later that you don’t like it.

To end, here are some resources on the Web for the recorder:
The Recorder Home Page by Nicholas Lander
Free Recorder Lessons Online by Gene Casti
Courtly Music Unlimited – Advice for Beginning Recorder Players
Courtly Music Unlimited – Answers to Questions from Recorder Players
Antique Sound Workshop – FAQ and Guides for Recorders
Recorder Friends Yahoo Group
Recorder Yahoo Group

Published in: on November 28, 2005 at 10:45 pm  Comments (1)  

One CommentLeave a comment

  1. […] I just found the page of a guy called Geejay who obsesses over the recorder. A fun read. Speaking of fun, what a concert this must have been:   […]

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