The recorder is a nifty little musical instrument. This predecessor of the flute has been around for hundreds of years. The modern plastic version, available in music stores, is inexpensive. Soprano recorders are about a foot long; the finger holes are comfortably spaced, even for children. Maria Augusta Trapp, of Sound of Music fame, wrote in her inspiring family oriented book The Story of the Trapp Family Singers: "...The recorder is the ideal instrument for any adult whose childhood musical education has been neglected. If someone discovers on his fiftieth birthday that he should have taken piano or violin lessons while in school, he will hardly want to start then, for fear of not getting very far; but he will always miss it-to be able to 'make music' himself. That's where the recorder comes in handy. After six weeks of faithful practicing, even the oldest pupil can play folk tunes very nicely...There are untold riches in that little instrument."
Some people wonder about the pros and cons of piano vs. recorder. Both instruments are great to learn. There will be no confusion because the recorder and the piano are so different but both reinforce the same music reading skills. Children enjoy the opportunity to learn a wind instrument as well as the piano. (One definite advantage of the recorder is that it is much easier to carry around.)
For those who don't own a piano, the recorder is an affordable alternative. Lessons are unnecessary. Most children are ready for the recorder around age eight or nine, perhaps earlier if they already read music. And as Maria Trapp said, it's never too late to learn. Much of the music written for recorder quickly becomes too difficult for children and for adults with no background in reading music. The Nine-Note Recorder Method uses only the nine easiest notes to play and simple rhythms. Not only is the music easy but it is almost entirely duets and trios. Folk songs, classic melodies, and Christmas carols are waiting for your family to experience together. What a fun way for the family to make music!
Bring "untold riches" to your family by purchasing soprano recorders for everyone and this fun book of two- and three-part songs. Soon your family will be making beautiful music together wherever you are.
Read an Excerpt
A Renaissance for Recorders
Recorders deserve a renaissance in our homes and schools. The recorder was a popular instrument during Shakespeare's day. Later, the recorder was more or less replaced by the transverse flute, but interest in the recorder has continued through the ages. In Hamlet, Shakespeare said, "Come, some music! Come, the recorder..." Come, let's learn more about music and the recorder.
"Come, Some Music!"
Learning to read music is an important skill that should be taught and practically applied on some instrument. A piano is a major purchase, usually followed by years of expensive lessons. If this option is out of your price range or if you just want the versatility of also learning a wind instrument, give the recorder a try. The recorder is often the springboard to further music study.
Good quality plastic recorders may be purchased for $5 - $10 at your local music store. They are very easy to care for. All but the cheapest ones have a good tone. Later, if you like, you could look into purchasing wooden recorders. They are more expensive and need loving care. Buy soprano recorders; they are smaller with the holes closer together so children are physically able to play them.
Many adults are musically illiterate; they don't know how to read music. The Nine-Note Recorder Method is the perfect resource to help you learn to read music. Have a musically literate friend make sure you understand the basics before you try to teach children how to play the recorder. Duets are songs in two parts. You can tell if a song is a duet when you see vertical lines connecting two staffs. When two notes on the two different-but-connected staffs are lined up, that means they are played at the same time.
Trios are songs in three parts. Duets and trios are great fun for families and classrooms. You can split up into teams to perform these part songs. The resulting harmony can be very exciting. The Nine-Note Recorder Method contains 70 duets, trios, and rounds.
"Come, the Recorder..."
Here are some tips to keep in mind as you learn to play the recorder. By incorporating these habits you will be able to play more musically:
1. Keep your arms relaxed and comfortably at your sides. Do not hold the recorder up in the air. Hold it fairly close to your chest.
2. Keep the recorder in front of your teeth. Some children try to hold the recorder between their teeth-that's a no-no!
3. Your left hand goes at the top of the recorder. Your right hand goes below with the thumb of the right hand supporting the recorder at all times. Don't tense up.
4. When you cover holes, be sure your fingers cover them completely.
5. Blow softly. Little air is required. Blowing too hard produces an obnoxious and unmusical noise. Experiment to find a beautiful tone.
6. Don't force children to learn too early. I've found that seven- or eight-year-olds often struggle with an instrument. The nine- or ten-year-old will pick it up more easily. Older children will be able to teach themselves independently.
7. Practice fifteen minutes every day to see improvement. Use a music stand for better posture.
The Nine-Note Recorder Method is geared specifically for children. It uses only the nine easiest notes and the print is large. This book is almost entirely duets and trios-a novelty in beginning music books. Isn't it more fun to play with someone else? Making music in harmony with other family or class members is a most rewarding experience!
Come, the Renaissance
The recorder is a lovely ancient instrument that deserves our musical attention. It is part of our musical history and heritage. Come, let's start a Renaissance in our homes and schools by learning to play the recorder. "Come, some music! Come, the Recorder..."
Adapted and reprinted by permission from Nine-Note Recorder Method: Easy Duets for Beginners by Penny Gardner.
Table of Contents
TOC: Table of Contents
My Own Fingering Chart (reproducible worksheet)
A Renaissance for Recorders
New Notes; Here Goes; Little Tune
Pick-Up; First Duet (D)
Mary Had a Little Lamb (D)
Gee, A Bee! (D); Hot Cross Buns
New Notes; Way Down Low; Tell Me
The Muffin Man; London Bridge
Mary Had Another Lamb (D)
This Old Man; Merry Melody (D)
Old MacDonald (D)
Soldier, Soldier (D)
Aura Lee (D)
My Candles (D)
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear (D)
Go Tell It on the Mountain (D)
Hurry, Little Pony (D)
New Notes; New Notes on the Block; Dream Waltz Silent, Silent (D)
Down in the Valley (T)
Shoo Fly (T)
Phoebe in Her Petticoat (D)
For Health and Strength ®; Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise ®
Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes (D)
On the Bridge (D)
Swiss Alps (D)
Old Joe Clark (T)
When We're Helping (D)
Classic Melody (D)
Symphony Melody (D)
In the Leafy Treetops (D)
Hush Little Baby (D); Here Come Two Dukes (D)
Ode to Joy (D)
Good King Wenceslas (D)
Holiday Round; Sound of Bells ®
Jingle Bells (D)
Deck the Halls (T)
Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful (T)
'Twas a Little Ship (D)
Winter Has Passed (D)
See, Amid the Winter's Snow (D)
We Wish You a Merry Christmas (D)
Ding Dong Merrily on High (T)
Stars Were Gleaming (T)
Humpty Dumpty Teaches a New Meter
The Old Gray Cat; The Bear Went Over the Mountain Down by the Station (T)
The Happy Worker (T)
Dancing Fun (D)
Scatter Sunshine (T)
Windmill Dance (D)
I Saw Three Ships (D)
Bring a Torch (T)
Bonus Note; Sky High; Are You Sleeping
Here We Are Together (D)
Michael Row Your Boat (T)
Mozart Melody (D)
Scandinavian Duet (D)
The Emperor (D)
Irish Washerwoman (D)
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (T)
Fair are the Meadows (T)
Dona Nobis (T)
Hush, My Baby (D)
God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen (D)
The Friendly Beasts (D)
Shepherds Left Their Flocks A-Straying (D)
Oh, Come Little Children (D)
Twelve Days of Christmas (D)
Light Our Candles (D)
With Wondering Awe (D)
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (T)
Once in Royal David's City (D)
While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks (T)
Angels We Have Heard on High (T)
The Holly and the Ivy (D)
Away in a Manger (D)
Blank Music Sheet (reproducible) (Key: D = duet; T = trio; R = round. Songs in italic are Christmas/Hanukah pieces.)