How do I put this? I've never had any formal music education whatsoever, but I do play a little bit of self-taught soprano recorder. The problem I have with it is that I can only get myself as high as high-G (if that's what you call 'em) before I have to increase the air velocity and produce some potentially highly-annoying pitches while practicing some tunes.

To be honest, I find the soprano recorder too loud for me to play in my house and might be disturbing the neighbors. I'm not particularly pointing to the volume of sound, but it's rather my interpretation of the feeling of 'loudness', which I think is because the soprano is a high pitched instrument.

The notes are there but I don't dare to hit them, for I feel guilty for making too much noise and I kinda hold back, which distorts my progression on the instrument. Will the alto's mellow sound make it less 'loud' than the soprano? I wanted to at least be able to play 2 octaves without having to tell everyone in the neighborhood.

If not, what kind of instrument is suitable for my situation? And don't forget that I have the hand size of an 8-year-old (if that matters).

  • @Carl Witthoft Thanks for your answer Mr. I certainly realize that sounding the high note involve some technique like pinching the thumbhole while keeping the opening thin which I manage figure out and I already play some high notes. I know there isn't much dynamic involve in blowing the recorder but I do feel I can ease the sound a bit by blowing with less pressure before it sound flat because I can make high note like E without 'pinching' and simply just blow with higher pressure while leaving the thumbhole open. It's not that I produce bad high note but I just can't stand its loudness.
    – user9372
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 5:32
  • @ohmi I very much appreciate your response. I'm sorry if the details of my question cause a confusion. To summarize the question: I can play high notes without a doubt but I just don't want to because to me high pitch just appear to sound louder and I wanted to know does the same thing apply to the alto.
    – user9372
    Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 1:40
  • Surprisingly, I can play the soprano recorder without sounding too loud today even up to high-A. So, forgive my ignorance. Maybe there's some truth to the claim about my 'bad' technique. Honest say, I don't really know how but I did make it sound less loud and I can reproduce the sound for some time but now I have lost it again. Whatever it is, I'll mark the answer from both of you as useful. I know they don't encourage this but , thanks.
    – user9372
    Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 10:52

2 Answers 2


The decibel level you can reach and still maintain pitch does increase as the recorders get shorter, but I agree that your main problem may be technique. That being said, playing a soprano "quietly" is not easy, esp. up above G6.

Altos are mellower, tenors even more so. There are tenors being made with keys (Mollenhauer) that are playable by children so that might be an option for you. All good recorders can play through two octaves plus a couple of odd notes higher.

There is also the mute trick. Fold a very small piece of paper into a /\ shape and drape that over the edge of the windway. This cuts down on the sound output dramatically while still staying in tune. For sopranos we're talking about 1 cm or so in length, folded in half.


Small hands don't matter. It's true that high-pitched sounds tend to be more annoying than midrange. But to get to the root of the problem: it sounds like you have breath control difficulties, and those can only be corrected by taking some lessons. You shouldn't have to "overblow" to reach the higher octave(s), and while some of that depends on just how you half-cover the octave (thumb) hole, you will be a lot more comfortable as well as sounding better once you learn proper technique.


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