Sunday, November 17, 2013


Why do some people think it's a horrible-sounding musical instrument, despite the fact that there are some musicians who are ACTUALLY good on it?

Fingering Problems
As successive holes are covered, the sounding length of the tube increases and the pitch gets lower. It's not just about how their fingers are placed to play different note sequences, but what pressure should the fingers have when covering them. Some make the mistake of using their fingertips to cover the holes instead of the pads and when doing that, some grip them tightly. Proper fingering requires pads of the fingers that cover holes at an even, steady pressure - not too tight, not too loose.

Improper Tonguing
On all wind instruments the tongue is used to articulate the beginning of every individual note and every group of slurred notes. Some people use little to no tonguing control - just tooting on their recorders. This produces a sloppy sound and is prone to excessive overblowing. Playing a note starts with the attack. Silently say the word "Du" or "Tu" for each note. To terminate the note, the tongue moves forward toward the teeth and silently say a stopped "D" or "T".

Improper Articulation
The fingers should come down like little hammers, completely sealing the hole (unless a half hole fingering is needed, which will be explained in the lessons) and held tight for the duration of the note. When the note has stopped, the fingers must release quickly in order to repostition themselves for the next note.The combination of blowing and fingering is called articulation.

Poor Breath Control
Blowing is done through exhaling into the mouthpiece with the lips gently sealed around it and the end of the mouthpiece positioned in front of slightly separated teeth. Blow gently, sustaining the same pressure at all times. The greater the pressure, the higher (or sharper) the pitch and conversely, lesser pressure will lower (or flatten) the pitch. Proper blowing is essential to maintain the correct pitch (or intonation) of the note.

Proper blowing and breathing is the key to pleasing sounds. Breathing is sometimes a problem. On long passages, one has a tendency to run out of wind. Breaths should be taken from the diaphragm (like in singing) and expelled with support from the diaphragm. The upper chest should not move. This will allow for better breath control. When it becomes necessary to take a breath, it should be taken quickly and quietly.

The breathing that produces a focused, unforced, non-vibrato vocal sound for children is the breathing that produces a focused, unforced, non-vibrato recorder sound. A student who can sing in tune and control the breath sufficiently to shape phrases can transfer those skills directly to the recorder.

Over Blowing
What is overblowing? That's when one blows too hard on his or her instrument often blowing so hard the instrument squeals. Recorders need even, minimal air.

Mouthpiece Placement

The mouthpiece can also be placed too far in their mouth or too little in the mouth. It should be placed on the bottom lip in front of the lower jaw and played at a diagonal angle, approximately 45 degrees. Upper jaw needs to be relaxed with teeth away from the tops. Lips should not tense very much but be closed enough to discourage squeaks. Recorders do require embouchures.

Posture and Position
Exactly the same posture needed for good singing, either standing or sitting, is needed for good recorder playing. The back should be straight but relaxed, and the shoulders, arms, hands and fingers should all be relaxed. Tension anywhere in the body can result in poor breath support, poor tone quality, problems with intonation, or fingers that are stiff and unresponsive.