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What are some good resources for learning how to play a baroque soprano recorder? I've looked around on the internet but I didn't really find anything good.

I'd especially prefer a good book I can buy cheap off amazon or half.com

I've never played music before

Thanks in advance.

EDIT: I have an angel soprano baroque recorder already and have been looking at:

http://www.amazon.com/Its-Recorder-Time-Alfred-dAuberge/dp/0882848143/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1322709083&sr=1-1

and

http://www.amazon.com/Recorder-Fun-Teach-Yourself-Easy/dp/0793566509/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1322709113&sr=1-3

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6 Answers 6

Get a teacher if you possibly can, just for the start if necessary. They will really, really help you progress.

Whether you have a teacher or not, once you have some ability to sight-read pieces, if there's a group of recorder players near you then you can get some invaluable experience by going along and playing with them. You'll be stretched, challenged, frustrated and ultimately learn to play things you'd never have done yourself. You'll learn about playing in tune with other people, playing parts, following a conductor... and you'll meet people who can help you, too.

In the UK the place to look would be the Society of Recorder Players (www.srp.org.uk). For the USA there's the American Recorder Society (americanrecorder.org). Unfortunately, American geography being what it is there may well not be anything near you. Check out schools and other such places for music groups which might include the recorder and be willing to welcome beginners.

I cannot emphasise enough how much you can learn from other recorder players if you get the chance.

General advice for playing the recorder (naturally this largely represents what I've been taught, and my teacher's a baroque performance specialist):

Don't get the cheapest recorder, get an affordable plastic one. Decent plastic ones tend to be better than cheap wooden ones, even though more expensive wooden ones are far superior (but they are a lot more expensive and unnecessary until you reach a fairly substantial level of skill).

Learn to 'fill the recorder with air'. This tends to produce the best sound. Relax your mouth and throat to let the air flow freely into the instrument. If you blow too hard, the sound will break up or squeak, while if you blow too little it will be thin and unsteady. Try for a full, stable sound with no vibrato. This can be quite difficult to start with. Breathe deeply, think about your diaphragm and use it to support the breath. This is actually similar to singing technique.

Learn to play in tune. A tuning meter may be helpful for this. Different notes require differing amounts of air to play in tune. Generally speaking the lower notes require more air, and the pinched notes require substantially less. There are exceptions.

To start with, pretend dynamics don't exist. The recorder relies heavily on breath pressure to play in tune, so if you start trying to play quietly you'll find you're playing flat (and playing louder will make you go sharp or break the notes). There are alternate fingerings for some dynamics, and you get a bit of leeway with some instruments before the tuning fails, but it's a fairly advanced area of technique. Playing in tune is far more important as you start out, as an out of tune recorder is a rather unpleasant thing to bear witness to.

Learn your scales! Music's made out of scales, arpeggios and other bits. If you're good at scales and arpeggios, you only have to worry about the other bits.

When you find contradictory advice, examine it, try it, and make up your own mind. A teacher will usually want you to do it their way at first, but if you're working on your own you need to come to an understanding of why things are done in certain ways by yourself.

And finally (well, as finally as I'm going to get in this already overlong post), listen to some good recordings to get an idea how the instrument can sound and how the music can be interpreted. The main problem is that 'good' is a matter of taste. Find ones you like and listen to those, as you'll never get anywhere if you're trying to copy a sound you don't care for. I don't recommend trying to copy Piers Adams as your fingers might fall off.

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I've done considerable research into this and I have found some good websites and books:

Recorder-Fingerings.com:

This site has fingerings for about thirty recorder makers and most of their recorders. It includes over five hundred detailed charts of piano, forte, and trill fingerings.

8notes.com:

This site has about thirty pieces of free beginner-level recorder sheet music. Searching on it for voice pieces gives thousands of results, most of which are in the range of the soprano recorder.

free-scores.com:

Free-scores has about five hundred pieces for the recorder, many of which are for a recorder/piano duet. This is fairly useful, but not all arrangements are of the best quality.

Best Recorder Method Yet:

This book was very helpful in getting me started on the recorder. It is for the soprano or tenor. It includes over 100 pieces. There is also another book in the same series for the Alto recorder and Sopranino.

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Here is the link to the best method books I've ever seen and used. Recorder from Zero

I wrote the first review on that page. I used these books to teach my daughter how to play and they did their job well.

However, since you say you are a complete beginner, I cannot recommend it for you, although once you get some reading skills you can certainly use it by yourself.

I agree with Josh, get a teacher, even for just one or two lessons. It will make a world of difference to how good you will sound and how fast you'll progress on your own. Production of the high notes on a recorder requires some thumb technique that should be demonstrated personally rather than puzzled out. Oh yeah, the left hand goes on top.

I also agree that breath control is the key to making recorders sound good; therefore I suggest starting with an alto instead of a soprano if you can. Altos are much easier to play and once you get past the very basics you play the melody line for practically any singable tune one octave higher than written. Inadvertent listeners will enjoy your practicing more, particularly when you start learning the highest notes. Soprano recorder == piccolo. Beginning flutists do not start on piccolo for the same reason. If you continue on, you can pick up the tenor next (== standard flute) and learn the C fingerings on it using any soprano method book.

The newer plastic Yamaha recorders are better than wooden instruments that cost less than $200 or so and better than Angel recorders, imho. Zen-on is also good.

Eventually, find a group or a friend to play with. Unlike piano, recorders are more fun when played together and are far more portable. The simplest duets can be played beautifully by beginners and are greater than the sum of their parts.

Have fun -- I started the same way you are about 15 years ago, found a decent teacher for about 6 lessons and have since enjoyed almost every minute of it.

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In some cases, you must start with the soprano. Some children cannot reach all right hand holes. For one, I started on soprano and I turned out fine (I hope). :) –  American Luke Feb 29 '12 at 2:31

I began learning the recorder about 2 years ago and I found the 8notes site to be a good source of simple songs for me to practice.

I learned by practicing the easiest songs first until I was comfortable with the fingerings and reading the music and then working my way up to harder songs. I didn't know how to read music when I started but learned the basics as I went along.

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You should have a look at JoyTunes: music games controlled by real instruments.

They currently have 2 games for learning to play the recorder:

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I use "Recorder Karate." Ignore the silly belts, just grab the book. It's an easy introduction, and teaches you how to read music at the same time. Once you pick up some basic reading skills and know the C-major scale, you can grab any sheet music with a limited range that's in the key of C! http://www.musick8.com/store/alphadetail.php?product_group=1522&uks=MP-RC449

Note all of these come with recorders… but they're cheap. I'd go for the nicer three-piece type, and have an extra!

If you're the intrepid explorer type who likes to experiment and teach themselves, consider getting a basic notation-reading resource (or a musician-friend), learn the basic concepts, then get a fingering chart, and find music in the key of C.

My biggest tip for the recorder? Blow SO SOFTLY. Like a whisper. You can't even exhale normally, you'll make a terrible, terrible sound that will evoke the wrath of evil spirits. Seriously.

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No! Blowing softly into a recorder makes a terrible thin, unstable noise that's incredibly difficult to play in tune. Fill the instrument with air to get the best sound. Blowing too hard, of course, is also bad, but it's not hard to know when that happens because the sound splits. Of course, if you've got a really cheap plastic instrument you probably can't get a nice sound out of it by any means. –  Matthew Walton Jan 4 '12 at 12:58
    
I think we just have different perspectives of "softly." I may have exaggerated some in my answer, as, from what I've seen, the exaggeration is what gets students to play with the correct amount of air. I've played recorders from quite a few price points, and not a one has been able to take anything close to the amount of air most other wind instruments require. Perhaps I'm coming at it only from "prior-instrumental-experience" and a "teaching-third-graders" perspectives, but from what I've seen, almost everyone will overblow so that the sound, like you say, splits. –  Josh Fields Jan 4 '12 at 14:01
    
Yes that's quite likely the reason, maybe it just depends on what you've played before. I started on recorders, and a lot of the recorder players I know did too, so there's a lot of urging from my teacher for people to put more air into the instrument. But then if I think of my sister playing the oboe... well, that's not so much lots of air as lots of pressure, but I can see how it would lead to blowing too hard into a recorder. We need a more objective description :) –  Matthew Walton Jan 5 '12 at 8:40
    
Two liters of air per minute of sustained sound… no, just kidding. –  Josh Fields Jan 5 '12 at 12:40

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