Is the Recorder your instrument?

There are two types of people, those who play an instrument and those who would like to. Here is a case for playing the recorder. Instrument choice underpins success with music, and choosing the recorder may tip the scales your way. Here's why.

Learning an instrument proceeds best with clear motivation and achievable goals. Motivation may include the following:

  • Hearing a wonderful player: check out Genevieve Lacey and Michala Petri, and the music at their sites. Also Dan Laurin and Dorothee Oberlinger. These recorder players are virtuosi of the highest order. There are many others.
  • Wanting to play with others: music is a social activity, playing with friends is one of life's great joys.
  • Expanding horizons: "what do you do?" usually means "what is your job?". "I like playing music" is a good alternate answer

The best motivation for starting an instrument is to see it played expertly, close up.

I started recorder as a young adult, having learnt briefly at school. I heard informal recorder groups at 1970s festivals and was struck by the beautiful sound, and how much fun it seemed. I wanted to join in.

Motivation starts the journey to playing, achievable goals ensure progress. This is where the recorder excels.

Simply put, the initial learning curve for recorder is less than for most other instruments. Beginning recorder players make a good sound more easily than violin, clarinet of flute beginners.. This shortens the path to goals such as:

  • Playing with a group: while the recorder tradition of amateur participation dates back to the 17th century at least, there have never been more players than now. Many cities have recorder societies, with group activities which welcome beginners
  • Experiencing the great music: many beginning recorder books have arrangements of pieces from masters like Bach, Handel and Corelli
  • Playing for family and friends: "I never knew Mum could play"... Neither did she, until recently

While the recorder is friendly to beginners, higher order skills are hard won. The recorder virtuosi have worked just as hard as their counterparts on other instruments.

In addition to an easy start for beginners, other reasons to choose recorder are:

  • A large easily obtained repertoire: much of it suits beginning and intermediate players. See the recorder music page on this site for more details
  • Low instrument cost: a high quality plastic recorder, like the one shown opposite, costs around $50. Details are here. Of course, good recorders from famous makers cost far more
  • Portability: a violin, guitar, saxophone (or banjo) case takes up space, arriving with one signals intent. A recorder fits easily into a shoulder bag, ready when you are, otherwise out of sight

Success for beginning music students is elusive, many don't continue. Choosing the recorder may greatly increase your chances of success.

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