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Just for fun, I am looking into learning how to play the recorder. I might be able to get a soprano recorder from a friend who doesn't play it anymore, but it seems like it requires German fingering. I've been doing some research and it seems like Baroque fingering is the default for anything but "beginner instruments".

Is it difficult to transition from German fingering to Baroque fingering? Will I have to learn both fingering variants anyway?

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  • My very amateur impression is that fingering systems in those days were not at all standardized, and this seems to have continued into contemporary instruments... So, I suspect you'll need to understand both systems. But, hopefully, other people have more authoritative opinions. :) Feb 24, 2022 at 0:53
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    @paulgarrett Contrary to the name "baroque fingering" this fingering has nothing to do with fingering on baroquer era instruments. It has been invented by Dolmetsch, a frenchman in england, who was very much responsible for repopularizing the recorder in the early 20th century.
    – Lazy
    Feb 24, 2022 at 19:00
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    music.SE really needs an Auto-Ban for all questions that include "is it difficult to learn XXX instrument?" Feb 25, 2022 at 14:04

2 Answers 2

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There are only a few differences between the two fingering systems. For a soprano (descant) recorder the main difference is for fingering F and F#. So, it shouldn't be too hard to transition between the two systems.
But, the German fingering system is not recommended because some notes are inherently out of tune, and playing in keys other than F and C isn't really practical.

If you're just borrowing the instrument to see what it is like to play a recorder, it can't really hurt. But, as recorders are relatively inexpensive, why not just buy one with Baroque fingering?

See this discussion by a professional recorder player:

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The German fingering is very popular with beginners instruments, as it does not require you to fork the f. The cost of this is that it requires much more complicated forks for most notes not diatonic to C-major. This makes this fingering rather unpopular with professional players. The German fingering might thus be seen as more oriented towards amateur players who mainly play in C-major.

Is it thus reasonable to start on a German recorder? I’d say in the beginning it does make little difference. It is not much harder to start on English fingering, and once you want to approach more challenging literature you will probably want to use it. Once you play outside of the diatonic note of C-major it is thus sensible to learn the baroque fingerings so that you do not have to learn two systems of forks. But for the very beginning using the German fingering will make little difference.

And once you want to play more advanced stuff you can get surprisingly good plastic flutes by Yamaha for very little money.

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  • I have no overarching knowledge of which fingering is more common when teaching beginners, but I will say that when my daughters were given mandatory recorders in 5th grade (as a vast majority of school systems in America do), the school music class used baroque fingering and my impression is that it's the most common, even when starting beginners. No idea whether there is variation by country, though. (Also, I got a $20 USD wooden recorder with a much, much better tone than the $7 plastic one!) Feb 24, 2022 at 20:52
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    @AndyBonner Can’t expect much from a 7$ recorder. But you get decent Yamaha plastic recorders in the range 15$-40$. Wooden recorders are a bit more problematic in shaping. Especially with a beginners instrument you want to have a really forgiving air channel. Many low cost wooden recorders do not have that and thus really need a professional to play them. Good beginner recorders usually sit at around 100$. About fingering: Some teachers like to start on german fingering, some don’t. It’s just like that.
    – Lazy
    Feb 24, 2022 at 22:01

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