Lesson Two



The graphic to the left labeled fingering is a link. Click on it and another window will open containing a fingering chart. This graphic will appear now on lesson pages so that you can refer to it as needed. The fingering presented is modern and covers a range of two octaves. Recorder fingering has changed over the years with the development of the instrument and there are some variations. If you are interested in further pursuing this topic I refer you to David Green's article on his most excellent website The Antique Sound Workshop.

To the right is an enlarged fingering diagram. In the early lessons these fingering diagrams will accompany the scales to assist you. Black indicates covered holes and white indicates uncovered holes. A pinched hole (always the left hand thumb) is half covered. This website will at all times address both soprano and alto recorders. Both instruments are fingered the same, but are tuned differently. The lowest note (all holes covered) of the soprano recorder is "c" while the lowest note of the alto recorder is "f." You will begin by learning to play the scale as do all beginning musicians.

Most of the notes in the lower octave of your recorder are easy to play. The lowest pitch however, "c" / "f" can be difficult. Any leaks (partially covered holes) will produce failure. It is also easy to overblow this lowest pitch. Try it, when you succeed in sounding "c" / "f" increase the air pressure until the note jumps an octave. Because the low note is most difficult, let's learn our scale backwards from the top.

Don't be confused by the notation between the descant and treble recorders. The notation would seem to suggest that the treble (alto) recorder is higher pitched than the descant (soprano) recorder. In fact the treble recorder is pitched one half octave lower than the descant. It's simply easier and conventional to write notation for both recorders so that the lower octave notes are on the treble clef staff. To show the proper pitch relationship between the two instruments we would have to begin the descant scale on "c" in the second space from the top of the staff. This would require the entire second octave to be written using lines above the staff.

Take your time and learn to play the scale. When you've mastered the low notes, practice playing the scale up and down over and over.

Try hard to keep saliva out of the recorder. As much as possible keep your lips dry. The inside of the recorder will still get wet. Your breath is warm and moist and moisture will condense on the inside of the recorder. If you are playing the recorder in a cool dry place, try warming it before you play it. Hold the mouthpiece end under your arm for a few minutes. In twenty to thirty minutes of playing, the moisture build-up in your recorder may begin to effect it's sound and your ability to play the lowest and hightest pitches. You can cover the labium opening (whistle) in the mouthpiece with your hand and suck sharply to pull moisture out of the mouthpiece. Do not get in the habit of doing this repeatedly if your instrument is made of wood. If your recorder is wood you can damage it by overplaying it and getting it too wet. The Von Huene Workshop makes, sells and services the best wood instruments available and maintains a very helpful website with a detailed section on the care and maintenance of wood recorders. Be sure and read it and send the nice folks there a thank you note: Von Huene Workshop. When you're ready to head out on the concert tour you can order one of their recorders.

Serious recorder players typically have more than one instrument so that they can practice longer. Both instruments need not be of the same quality -- a plastic recorder will serve as a practice instrument; Yamaha makes a good inexpensive plastic recorder that is ideal as a second practice instrument.