How to find other players

Hampshire Recorder Orchestra

One of life's great pleasures is gathering with friends to play music. A key advantage of the recorder is that for beginners, group playing happens sooner than for most other instruments. The challenge is finding like companions. Here are some pointers.

The recorder traces back to the 14th century at least. Until the 17th century most recorder music was for ensembles, groups of recorders. This tradition, along with much of the music remains well alive. The best way to find a group of recorder players is to contact your local Recorder Society. These societies generally organise groups of varying sizes and abilities, including larger groups like the Hampshire Recorder Sinfonia, shown on the right.

Contacting your local recorder society is a good start. There are other ways to meet players as well.

Having joined your local recorder society and attended several events, the next step (if you are inclined) is to meet privately to play. Preparing your home for visitors for a music session will be a new experience for some, likewise the task of gathering suitable music. See the recorder music page on this site for pointers.

Some people organise group activities as a matter of course, others are more shy. I'm inclined to the latter. However, twenty five years ago I attended a recorder society event, and introduced myself to the best player there. A few years later we formed our baroque ensemble, Balmain Baroque, 20 years later we are still going strong.

A recorder group can be two players only. There is a rich variety of recorder duets, ranging from beginners through intermediate to highly advanced. Again, see the recorder music page for details.

Many recorder players gather only with their like. All good, however for each recorder player there are perhaps fifty violinists of equal ability, likewise for flute, piano and cello. These players are also potential music companions. The violin in particular matches well with recorder. For duets, it is best for the violin to take the lower part, to avoid uncomfortably high registers. Cello and recorder duets also work well, the repertoire includes essentially all the baroque recorder sonatas. These pieces were written as a recorder part and a cello part, the latter including "figures" to guide a keyboard accompanyment.

recorder violin
The ultimate recorder experience is a full baroque "rhythm section", namely a cello and harpsichord. Good harpsichord players are as hard to find as the instruments themselves, however competent cellists abound. Many lack playing opportunities, and may be inclined to meet with a recorder player.

As a beginning player I was fortunate to meet an excellent flute player. We began informal weekly sessions at her house, I became good friends with her family, she taught me much about ensemble playing. Some time later I became friends with another excellent flute player, whose wife was (and is) an exceptional cellist. We have played together informally for more than twenty years. I have learnt much from them, and am grateful for it.

So. How to meet these unattached classical players? Enquiries amongst family and friends may yield results. The Chamber Music Network is an international organisation aiming to connect chamber music players of all levels. If you take lessons (a good idea), your teacher may have peers able to recommend students of like ability who would be inclined to meet. Larger workshops, through Recorder Societies or Early Music Associations, are a good chance to meet a wider group of potential music companions.

A final word. Preparation. It is wise to gather ensemble music, duets, trios and other pieces, and study your parts. Then when playing opportunities arise, perhaps at short notice, you can supply music you have already prepared. Much better than nervous sight reading. I have always done this, over the years it has allowed me to confidently meet with far better players than myself.

All this assumes that your recorder studies are progressing. The lessons on this site can help.

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