The first instrument many people think of to learn is the recorder. It is introduced in elementary school, usually with that toe-tapper “hot crossed buns”. Unfortunately, most people never get beyond that. It is seen as a simple instrument, fine as an introduction to woodwinds if you eventually want to play clarinet or saxophone but otherwise, just a toy.

My father taught me some recorder when I was young. He was in an “everything folk” phase and became rather accomplished on it. I rediscovered this magical musical instrument when I taught music at Lake Lure Classical Academy.  My rekindled interest lead me to the American Recorder Society Hendersonville Chapter.  We meet once a month and play mostly “Early” music, meaning Baroque or older.  We have experts in Renaissance and Baroque give informative lectures and then we jam for an hour.  It’s mostly an older crowd( I, at my tender age of 43 would be considered a whipper-snapper) and the core members are seasoned players on lots of instruments.  It’s open to drop-ins so if you are interested I can put you in contact with the right people.

The baroque recorder has a delicate sound because it’s related to the flute. It doesn’t use a reed like a clarinet or sax. This makes it easier to tackle as a first instrument. It’s small enough for almost everyone’s hands, even 3rd graders. There are also different sizes. The soprano is the standard but they go all the way down to the bass recorder which looks more like a bassoon than a recorder.

If you’re interested in playing the recorder contact me about lessons.

Here are a few things to think about:

The English fingering system is the preferred.  It’s also called “Baroque”.

The construction material is not important. I’m currently in love with the Peripole Angel Halo, a $7 plastic model that sounds much better than my father’s pear wood German made.  I suppose if I were to land a gig with a Baroque music consort they would frown at my little plastic recorder but to my ears it is exquisite.  The intonation is perfect, the fipple never swells, the upper register speaks easily and quickly, and at $7 a piece I can buy several and leave them scattered about!  I recently upgraded to an Aulos also that I purchased through Susato music, a musical instrument company and manufacurer of early music instruments located in Brasstown NC.  I also have an alto which cost about $15 and is lower and has a mellower tone.  The tenor is an octave below the soprano and has the nicest tone to my ears but it’s a real stretch to get my right pinky down to the bottom so I would reserve this instrument for the serious player.  Read my blog entry on the baroque recorder.

The baroque recorder as a first instrument