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 Post subject: Playing big instruments
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2017 3:45 pm 
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Do you have any tips on playing big instruments? Any stories of "taming" them?

I have played a recorder for a year. Just starting really. I have quite small hands. At first I got an alto recorder but got a bit depressed since I couldn't play it because I thought my hands were too small. Some even laughed at me for trying with my tiny hands. Two of my family members have given up with their chosen instruments because they thought their hands were too small. Ha. Not me. After playing a soprano recorder and stretching my hands for awhile I noticed I can now play my alto too. It's easy really. And nobody is laughing at me nowadays. The alto is now tamed and behaving well. I just ordered a tenor recorder (and a whistle I was afraid of because I thought it would bee too big). I saw a youtube video of a girl who has smaller hands that mine are and she can play the most humongous recorders. Bigger than tenor.

I just stretch my fingers all the time. I stop if there is any pain. And I practice a lot with my recordes. It feels so good to get it right that my brain picks it up. I am confident that I can tame that tenor recorder too if I really want to. At first I could play only 10 minutes or so with my alto before my fingers stated hurting. Now I could go on forever. I would if I didn't have any neighbours. :tomato:


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2017 11:44 pm 
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You and I are in the same boat. My hands are so small, I have to buy children's gloves, or make them myself.

I've found I was able to handle an alto recorder after years and years of only playing soprano recorder. It wasn't too bad because I've played piano for most of my life, so my fingers are pre-stretched. With the tenor, though I could stretch my fingers to play it, I still needed a double key for the last hole, and I ran into one more problem. I have short arms, and playing a tenor was making my right wrist bend painfully. I finally sucked it up and purchased a bent-neck tenor, and I found it to be one of the best purchases. I have a maple Moeck Rottenburgh bent neck tenor, and it's pretty much the only tenor recorder I play now (I also own a plastic Aulos one, which is not too bad to play, but painful after more than a few minutes). I also recently purchased a used bass recorder. It has metal bocal, like a bassoon, and keys for the last holes for each hand. I've only tested it, as I'm airing it out, then I have to clean and oil it properly (the previous owner did not), but I can definitely play it. I can't play very fast, but I can still play accurately.

In the last several months, I've learned how to handle low whistles with a super modified piper's grip that I came up with because I couldn't even do a regular piper's grip. I can use fingertips on the left hand, but I have to do piper's grip on the right hand. And I have to be picky about hole distances and whistle length, so I'm always asking the whistle makers for the sizes of their instruments before I buy them.

I'd like to know what key your whistle is in. If you are a recorder player, the easiest whistles to start on would be high D (like soprano) and alto G. Those have similar fingering to the recorders, though they are in diatonic major keys, unlike the recorders which give you the whole chromatic scale. On some of my alto whistles, where I don't want to use the piper's grip but can't quite reach the third whole with my ring finger, I'll end up using my pinky finger. I'm also really sorry that people are mocking you for doing something that should be considered impressive. Really, you don't know what you can achieve unless you give it a try. I didn't think I could handle low D, and it took a lot of convincing from members here and The Session to give the piper's grip a try, and I'm glad I finally listened to them. :)


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2017 1:13 pm 
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I don't have particularly large hands for a man; somewhat small delicate hands run in my family.

I'm a whistle player and some Low D's are a bit of a reach for me, while other Low D's are comfortable. It depends on the diameter of the tube and the spacing of the holes. In particular I'm bothered by having the top fingerhole (Hole 1) too high.

I struggled with a Low C whistle a bit, while a different Low C was fine.

So when I got this Bass A whistle (30" long) recently I didn't know if I could even play it. To my surprise I could pick it up and play it nearly as easily as a normal Low D. The one hole that gives me trouble, as usual, is Hole 1.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJm6BQ-Qxcg


(sorry for the background noise, it comes from the camera itself somehow)

Stuff like that makes me appreciate Boehm's work. I played a contrabass Boehm flute and it played like a dream, very easy, taking very little breath, just like the big ones on the right, shaped like a huge number "4", at the National Flute Association convention. I think they cost over $10,000.

Image

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Richard Cook Long Beach Pipe Band
1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
1945 Starck Highland pipes
Goldie Low D whistle


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2017 3:56 pm 
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That Alba Low A sounds awesome, Richard. If you are able to play a low A, I'm wondering if the low D would work for me. Now I want to try an Alba low D. I'm still waiting on my Shearwater whistles to come in the mail, since it was mutually decided that shipping after the holidays was a better choice. Wish I could try out some of the more expensive whistles before I plunk down any money on them.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 6:34 am 
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I've never owned an Alba Low D so I don't know what the finger-spacing is like.

Of the Low D's which I did play, the Dixon all-plastic conical-bore Low D was by far the most ergonomic. Small close-set fingerholes, a narrow tube, and extremely light weight make it so easy to hold and play. But, it's rather quiet.

Of the louder alloy-tubing Low D's the Goldie is the most ergonomic I've tried due to somewhat closer-set fingerholes than on most Low D's. Almost the same was the MK.

What bothers my hands most is having Hole 1 set too high, and having the three upper-hand holes too widely splayed in general.

Thanks for the kudos, Alba has really figured out how to do ergonomic bass whistles. I need to order a Low C from them too, at least. I'd really like to have a bass Bb too.

_________________
Richard Cook Long Beach Pipe Band
1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
1945 Starck Highland pipes
Goldie Low D whistle


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2017 2:53 pm 
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Richard: I really like my Dixon polymer, probably the best of what I have right now. Pretty impressed with how it smoothly transitions from octave to octave. But, as you said, it is quiet. I was looking at the MK Pro over the holidays, listening to YT videos and reading up more on them. At this point, I'll end up selling some whistles to get this one. I had bought the Dixon polymer low C, and it's significantly bigger than the low D, so much so that I can't play it. I literally don't have the hand size for it, and it's pretty laughable when I compare them both.

I suspect that if I played at a higher level, I would not have problems dropping the money on a Goldie right off the bat. I don't have problems spending that kind of money on recorders when I have it, because I can actually play them, and I'm comfortable on them. But there's also the bigger risk of my not being able to play them due to physical limitations.

OrangeTractor: Just a side note for you, John Bushby of Shearwater whistles makes a soprano whistle recorder, and I had ordered it. I don't know how familiar you are with the different brands and styles of recorders, but my loudest recorder is the Mollenhauer Dream, with it's larger bore, and when I get the Shearwater one, I'm going to compare the two. Its loud. Another user here, LucaLuigi, has posted up videos of himself on YouTube playing his. He is the only other person who has one that I know of, and mine is on the way.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:53 pm 
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Sorry for the late reply. I got some technical difficulties.

I received my tenor recorder and my fingers stretch well. Honestly I could play a bigger one if it was up to my hands and the tenor doesn't even have any keys. I was surprised. I fidn't think my arms would be the problem but they do seem a little short. I just play it in a different position then. The recorder "points" to my right side when I play. That is the easiest position for the right wrist that I really don't want to damage. I still have to decide if I want to blow from the side of my mouth or just keep my head tilted to my right (my left eye has better sight so I could as well play that way. The physical limitations...).

Oh, and those people who were laughing at me for trying to play big istruments (and playing a recorder. Or playing anything. I literally can't sing so people have thought I am antimusical) got very silent as I showed them my new tenor and played it a bit. It's almost as long as my whole arm. And I can handle it. Kind off. They didn't think recorders can even be that big. Pfft, some are taller than any living humans on this planet. And even those who were once adult beginners can learn something. The world is full of wonders.

Mae, I wish I could afford better wooden recorders. The Rottenburgh tenor must be really sweet. Mine is a plastic Aulos which is really a very nice "little" thing thouh. One should not underestimate the plastic. I considered getting a Mollenhauer Dream soprano since it has a different sound due to the wide bore (I have heard of it's loudness too) but I got the tenor since I was feeling so brave.

Thank you for the whistle tips. I haven't really been doing much with them. Even the whistle I got ended up being really... small... but it's nice.

pancelticpiper, that whistle in your video is impressive. Nice picture too. There is just something really cool about the big wind instruments.

I am also a man but my hands would be considered small even if I was a woman. Some people in our family are just not very impressive in size (certainly the big instruments are not ovecompensating anything).


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