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I have been using Yamaha YRS-23 soprano recorder (German fingering) since primary school.

My school teacher used to borrow music period for other subjects, so I self-taught most of the recorder techniques (music theory comes from my piano lesson outside school).

I can manage C5 to A6 (excluding C#5 and D#5) consistently. Bb6 and B6 are not so stable, but I usually still can get them right after practicing the related music piece several times.

C7 sounds squeaky in > 90% of the time. I am unable to play C#7 and D7 without squeaking even if I adjust my fingering for one minute. Unfortunately, quite a lot of classical pieces do use these notes (since recorder has a pretty small pitch range) so I can't play them. Any tips?

By the way, the fingering chart came with the recorder is a bit different from Yamaha's online fingering chart (for Bb6, C#7 and D7). Yamaha's online fingering chart seems to be more consistent with other websites' chart (and easier), so I am following that instead.

EDIT

A while ago I bought a Yamaha YRA-302B III alto recorder (Baroque fingering) as some pieces I want to play only fit into alto range. Quite expensive as it is a foreign product not imported in bulk (only one in store at that time). It definitely sounds more "real" than my soprano recorder. I can play the same B6 to D7 fingerings and they break less frequently. I wonder if this is due to "alto range" or "baroque design"?

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Respectfully, switch to a recorder with Baroque/modern fingerings. German-fingered recorders are simply not up to snuff once one gets past novice tunes and you want to explore the real literature or play with others. The compromises necessary to get that 5 hole to work for the low F fingering cannot be overcome without extreme difficulty (or not at all) on the part of the player; the highest notes are just one area of pain.

Fingering charts usually only show the "easiest" fingering for the higher notes, not the best ones.

With a new plastic Yamaha soprano (Baroque fingering), a tuning meter should reveal that h12--56h (half-hole 7) is a good Bb that you can bring into tune as necessary shading 7 using a tiny amount of thumb as the previous answer says.

The high C# is usually played with the bell stopped by your thigh, knee, or pillow. You should be able to find people doing this on YouTube, fortunately it is not a common note.

If you really want to look at the literature as written you may want to get an alto recorder, learning F-fingering (Baroque only, no German recorders in bigger sizes) . The alto is easier to play well, easier to listen to, and there is a lot of free, original source material to find and play from.

Keep playing.

  • Your alternative Bb6 baroque fingering seems to work on my recorder too, it does sound more stable. I have seen the tips for C#7 in another forum, I thought it was a hack invented by the author, finally know that it is a real technique. I added my experience in alto recorder (baroque) in my original question, please take a look. – John London Aug 22 '17 at 11:24
  • it should be the default fingering across all baroque-ish recorders on all sizes. – ohmi Aug 23 '17 at 20:01
  • The alto is just easier to play for most people. The 302B is a good, basic instrument that shouldn't have any problems with the high range assuming one has solid technique. Get the matching soprano. – ohmi Aug 23 '17 at 20:19
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These notes are always tricky, because they are using the thumbhole, partly closed, to jump up the octave, and the thumbhole is not far enough up the instrument to be in the ideal position to do this for these notes. You need to do two things: experiment with your thumb position and your articulation. The way the thumbhole is opened is critical; it should probably be only open a tiny bit, and your thumb should make as clean an edge as possible, perhaps even using your nail so that the tiny bit of the hole that's open is not shaded by the thumb. And you need to articulate fairly sharply- not necessarily with more force, but you need to start the notes quickly.

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    Excellent advice. "Air speed" isn't quite the same as "Air pressure" and for many recorders the very highest notes take more air speed and less pressure than the lower notes. – ohmi Aug 23 '17 at 20:06
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One thing I do when playing in the high register is to keep the thumb particularly still when playing the notes around high A. Once you have found a thumb position that works, then being still with the thumb seems to be the key for me.

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