recorder players at a maypole dance

Courtly Music Unlimited

Everything for the recorder enthusiast, or those who would like to be!

Richie & Elaine Henzler, Proprietors
800-2-Richie (800-274-2443)

89 River Street, 3rd Floor Unit 3 (River Street Plaza),
Warrensburg, NY 12885-1665



Keep the left hand on top.
This is very important, all woodwinds are played this way now.
When placing the recorder between your lips keep the mouthpiece in front of your teeth.
Have your lips around the mouthpiece, but not tightly, they should be relaxed.
Articulation ("tonguing") happens behind the teeth.
The tongue should not touch the recorder.
Tonguing is done at the beginning of each note to give it clear definition. Try this exercise:
When tonguing think of the "t" as it is annunciated in saying the word "light"
Be conscious of moisture in the windway of the recorder. This causes clogging.
Warming the head joint (plastic or wood) in your hands or under your arm before playing is helpful Get use to drawing moisture away from the windway like sucking on a straw. If you are playing a plastic instrument, take the head joint off and run some warm to hot water through the windway from the south end. Then add a couple of drops of "dish lotion" to the windway, also from the south end, and flush out with warm to hot water. Next take the head joint, cover the south end with your palm and blow the excess moisture out by blowing air through the "window". This should clean the windway and the residue of soap will act to break down the clogging of moisture. If you are playing a wooden instrument, DO NOT RUN WATER THROUGH THE WINDWAY. IT WILL CAUSE MAJOR DAMAGE. Instead, when the instrument is dry put a few drops of an anticondensation solution like Duponol (available from us) into the windway from the south end of the windway. If possible, let the instrument dry first before playing. The solution acts as a "surface active agent" and breaks down the beading of moisture resulting in less of a clogging problem.
Breath from the diaphragm (deep breaths) with an "open throat". Try this exercise:
Pucker your lips as though you were whistling and blow on your hand. The air should feel cool. Then open your mouth and blow on your hand with a "Ha" The air should feel warm. The "Ha" way is blowing more diaphragmatically with an "open throat". Try to blow this way even with the recorder to your lips.
When covering a tone hole use the pads of your fingers, not the tips.
Remember you are covering a curved surface and want as much skin to contact the tone hole as possible. Also you want to keep your knuckles flat (not curved up). If you arch up your finger you are automatically creating a lot of tensions in them. Your dexterity will be better with a flat relaxed hand.
If you have trouble playing low notes on your recorder consider the following:
Make sure that you can first play the left handed note (three fingers with the thumb). Next add 2 fingers so that you are now playing the note with 5 fingers on top and the thumb in the back. After that is successful add a finger in the right hand. Be sure to keep this finger flat. Remember you are covering two holes. You must first be successful with this note (G on the F recorder and D on the C recorder). Then as you place the pinky down, the rest of the right hand should not move.
Have the foot of the recorder turned so that it is right under your pinky. You want to be able to simply place your finger on the holes. If you have to roll your hand to reach the lowest holes you will probably uncover one of the other tone holes as a finger slips off. The finger covering the 6th hole often raises up and leaks air from the back. Keep your throat open and think "low". If you are blowing "high" from the throat you will produce the sound of the upper octave even if all your fingers are covering the holes.
If you are having trouble playing high notes consider this:
Make sure that the high A on the F recorder, or the high E on the C recorder, is played with the thumb creating a thin opening. This will set you up to play all the other high notes above this better than if you use no thumb at all. Start by closing the thumbhole completely. Then pull down and lightly press in with the upper left corner of the thumb. Use the side of the thumb just before the edge of the nail. Keep the opening thin. Try to be conscious of this small opening and keeping it that way as you go up the scale from the high A or E respectively. As you make this small movement, your knuckle remains relatively flat. If you flex your knuckle, you will feel tension and end up using too much of the thumbnail its self. Use of a thumbnail technique will eventually damage wood recorders. Using this method, you will be able to play all the way up from A to high G (on the F recorder) or E to high D (on the C recorder) without any change in the thumb position.
Don't forget to look at our large selection of method books.