Recorder woes

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Dan A.
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Recorder woes

Post by Dan A. »

Having made a fairly successful return to the tin whistle, I decided to try a recorder. After about five minutes, I'm thinking this was not a wise idea.

My issue lies in hand placement. I can play the whistle with my right hand on top without much difficulty. The same cannot be said of the recorder. Thus far, my ability to cover the bottom holes without getting squeaks has been inconsistent.

As I see it, I have three choices. I could attempt to develop a way to effectively play the lowest holes, short of leaving them uncovered all the time. Switching hand positions is another option. However, this feels horribly unnatural to me, I would basically have to start over from scratch, and I worry that an old injury may have rendered the little finger on my right hand useless for this purpose (not soliciting medical advice at all). Finally, I could just give up the recorder, stick to the whistle exclusively, and pretty much be out nothing.

Any insight on this matter is much appreciated.
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Re: Recorder woes

Post by fatmac »

I played recorders long before playing whistles, (sopranino, soprano, alto, & tenor), I found them to be too quiet, whilst I find a lot of whistles loud, but I never had any problems regarding covering the holes, once used to playing them, it's just a case of practice.

I used to find pinching the rear hole much easier than increasing breath pressure to get the second octave. :D
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Re: Recorder woes

Post by whistlecollector »

There are always possibilities!

Quitting recorder is certainly a valid choice.

You could just man up and buy a renaissance recorder! In-line-6 tone holes, left & right low C options for whichever hand you like lowermore.

Learning to play otherhanded is not difficult. Like all things manual and musical, it's just a matter of practice & repetition.

You can also look into an Aulos recorder designed for use by the disabled. Kind of like legos for recorder players. You can fit all the segments together and turn them individually so that the instrument suits your hands. Quite inexpensive, too.
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Dan A.
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Re: Recorder woes

Post by Dan A. »

The "build-it-yourself" recorder might be a good option for me. I'll do some research into the renaissance recorder, too. And I have yet another idea: if I have difficulties with covering the lowest holes properly, perhaps I can find another way to play those notes. Thanks for the suggestions!
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Re: Recorder woes

Post by whistlecollector »

Dan A. wrote:The "build-it-yourself" recorder might be a good option for me. I'll do some research into the renaissance recorder, too. And I have yet another idea: if I have difficulties with covering the lowest holes properly, perhaps I can find another way to play those notes. Thanks for the suggestions!
Sure!

One other thing you could do, of course, is just get a real recorder --- a bass, for example! It'll have enough keys on it you won't have to worry much about that recalcitrant pinky!
-- A tin whistle a day keeps the racketts at bay.

-- WhOAD Survivor No. 11373
Dan A.
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Re: Recorder woes

Post by Dan A. »

whistlecollector wrote:One other thing you could do, of course, is just get a real recorder --- a bass, for example! It'll have enough keys on it you won't have to worry much about that recalcitrant pinky!
Anything with keys is out of the question for me...when it comes to musical instruments, I want minimal parts, low maintenance, and durability. (That's one reason I have stopped playing the guitar.) Or are those not valid reasons to pass over keyed instruments?

I did a little more experimentation with my cheap ABS recorder. Entirely covering the lower two sets of holes seems doable once I have my finger placement down pat. By rotating the foot joint to a just-right position, I may be able to properly half-cover the lowermost set of holes. With little work, I was able to somewhat convincingly play a simple tune on it, too.

My tentative plan is to learn to play the recorder, but concentrate more heavily on the whistle. Thanks for the most helpful feedback!
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Re: Recorder woes

Post by whistlecollector »

Dan A. wrote:I did a little more experimentation with my cheap ABS recorder. Entirely covering the lower two sets of holes seems doable once I have my finger placement down pat. By rotating the foot joint to a just-right position, I may be able to properly half-cover the lowermost set of holes. With little work, I was able to somewhat convincingly play a simple tune on it, too.
Most excellent! Good luck with learning & enjoying both!
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Re: Recorder woes

Post by Sedi »

You could buy a recorder whistle from John Bushby (Shearwater whistles). He can place the holes wherever you want them.
Dan A.
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Re: Recorder woes

Post by Dan A. »

Sedi wrote:You could buy a recorder whistle from John Bushby (Shearwater whistles).
Such a purchase is not feasible at this time, but I'll keep it in mind. Meanwhile, I'll revisit my present recorder periodically and keep plugging away on the whistles.
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Re: Recorder woes

Post by Kypfer »

Time was some instruments were supplied with two sets of bottom holes, for "left-up" and "left-down" players, the principle being that the unused holes were simply blocked with beeswax. Might it be practical to drill a couple of extra holes in the instrument?

Another alternative might be not to play any tunes with a low 'C' ... ;)
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Re: Recorder woes

Post by Dan A. »

Drilling extra holes probably isn't a practical consideration. However, playing tunes that don't require the bottom holes to be covered is. Hopefully I can do that for a while and then have a recorder made in a left-handed configuration.
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Re: Recorder woes

Post by RoberTunes »

I play both. When shifting from the whistle to recorder, two very different instruments and temperaments, don't let the chromatic presence of all the extra notes freak you out. Try to master using maybe two or three main major keys and their minor keys, but primarily aim to learn to play the instrument well, for tone and expressive options. The recorder should be doing something important. It's not a background polytonal thing like a Fender Rhodes, it has to feel something clearly and add it in.

I like the recorder for it's tone possibilities, how it can feel. I had a tenor recorder, which sounded great, but I found I couldn't play it often enough. It was a stretch for the right hand fingers, but I got used to that and could play it smoothly and fast if I wanted. It's meditative and yet also powerful.

The alto provides access to those deeper richer notes and is a must. The soprano is the one I like the least because it's a bit nasally and needs to have a strong melody going through it. The sopranino I love, I think it has a magnificent tone, better in that high range than 95% of any of the whistles or high sax or high flutes can produce. It's also a little bit quieter in volume while being easier to hear because it's so high. It's like birds in the afternoon.

So it helps if you find what you like about the instrument, and discover the strong points of the music best matched to that instrument. If you're stuck on the octave switch, that will quickly pass, presuming the instrument isn't faulty.
Dan A.
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Re: Recorder woes

Post by Dan A. »

RoberTunes wrote:It helps if you find what you like about the instrument, and discover the strong points of the music best matched to that instrument.
That's an easy one: I like the sound (when I have all the holes covered).

Alto vs. soprano vs. sopranino vs. tenor got me a little confused. I'm not sure which of those groups my recorder would fall into. It's maybe 14-15 inches long, and has a "B" molded into the back.

I still try to periodically make a little noise on the recorder. Finding a good learning resource has been difficult. If I stick with it, I will doubtless end up having one custom-made in a left-handed configuration.
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Re: Recorder woes

Post by fatmac »

At that length it will be an alto - key of 'F' - most adults prefer the size & tone.

The sopranino is one octave higher than the alto - the soprano is in the key of 'C', with the tenor being one octave lower - a bass is one octave lower than the alto.
Those are the most common sizes manufactured.
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Dan A.
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Re: Recorder woes

Post by Dan A. »

I just measured my recorder (and got some practice in, too). My original estimate of the length was, to say the least, inaccurate. It's about 12.75"/324 mm, +/- 1/8." It does indeed have "B" molded above the thumb hole. Would it be a soprano, sopranino, or something else?
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