Pictured above is a modern, often called Baroque, recorder. The recorder is an instrument with a lot of history. It is one of the earliest of musical instruments and has seen many different incarnations. It was a popular instrument during the Renaissance and evolved into a precise and sophisticated instrument during the Baroque. It's popularity began to diminish during the Classical period as musical ensembles increased in size and volume. The Romantic period saw the recorder completely forgotten and replaced by contemporary wind instruments with more range and projection.
The recorder's recent popularity can be traced to a modern interest in period authentic instruments and ensembles dedicated to the performance of early music on original instruments or faithful replicas. It is an accessible instrument that provides rapid gratification for the novice and is yet challenging and capable in the hands of a professional.
NOTE: High quality instruments often come in three versions. Authentic replicas, modern replicas and modern instruments. This distinction is most important if you ever intend to play your recorder with another instrument or in an ensemble. The authentic replicas are not tuned to play with modern instruments. Today around the world, a uniform standard pitch of "a" = 440 cycles per second allows all modern instruments to play together in tune. In the Baroque and Renaissance periods "a" was pitched lower and was less well defined. You will see authentic replica recorders for sale tuned to non-standard pitches, e.g. "a" = 415. These are wonderful instruments but will sound out of tune played for example with a contemporary piano. These instruments are most commonly used by solo performers and performers in authentic early music ensembles.
All of the lessons that you will find on this website reference the modern recorder similar to the one you see in the photo above.
Let's start by learning how to hold your recorder. The row of holes down the front of the recorder are covered by the fingers of both hands. The single hole in the back is covered by the left hand thumb. The top three holes then are covered by the index, middle and ring fingers of the left hand. The remaining four holes are covered by the fingers of the right hand. The right hand thumb helps to support the recorder from behind. The ring and little fingers of the right hand cover the double drilled bottom holes. You will eventually have to learn to cover only the larger of these two holes. For now you must cover them both.
Now uncover all of the holes except the left hand thumb and left hand middle finger. Let the recorder rest on the right hand thumb, and place the recorder to your lips. It should rest on your lower lip and not touch your teeth. Do not place the recorder into your mouth; try and keep it dry. Blow into the mouthpiece and sound the note. Experiment by varying the pressure -- blow harder and then softer. Listen to the pitch change with the pressure.
Now uncover all the holes except the left hand thumb and the left hand index finger. Sound this note and then sound again the note you played in the paragraph above. Lets add two more notes: Left thumb, index and middle fingers covered and left thumb, index, middle and ring fingers covered -- no right hand fingers yet. Play these notes over and over -- that's four down and twenty to go. On to lesson two (links above).