March is play the recorder month. We most often now think of the recorder as a child’s instrument, but it was once an orchestral instrument, particularly in the renaissance and baroque periods. You will still find it used in musical groups which play music from that period.
Officially, the recorder is a woodwind musical instrument in the group known as internal duct flutes—flutes with a whistle mouthpiece. It is distinguished from other duct flutes by having a thumb-hole for the upper hand and seven finger-holes: three for the upper hand and four for the lower. Recorders are made in a variety of sizes. So, even though each recorder has a range of only two octaves, a recorder ensemble can play across seven octaves. The sizes are called soprano (the one most often used), alto (next most often seen), tenor, bass, great bass, contra-bass, subcontrabass, and sub-subcontrabass.
According to Miss Scherling’s Recorderama Website, there are several reasons children are taught to play the recorder.
- Learning how to play the recorder requires music reading. The language of music can be described as a foreign language that combines math, science, sounds, and symbols.
- Playing any instrument demands a tremendous amount of coordination. When children play the recorder they will be breathing with their lungs, reading music with their eyes, playing notes and songs by moving their fingers, while sitting up straight.
- They get a chance to learn how to compose simple music.
- The recorder helps children learn how to play wind instruments, with the skills being transferable to other instruments.
I encourage you to listen to some recorder music today. From You-Tube here is a link to “Let it Be,” from Frozen, where you can watch what notes the musician is playing by following along on the score, and also see his fingering as symbols on the side. It’s very interesting. But if you are more into classical music, check out this video of Handel’s Complete Sonatas for Recorder. The sonatas are both beautiful and soothing.
I couldn’t really find any quotes about recorders, so here are some about instruments in general.
It’s easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself.–Johann Sebastian Bach
I play a musical instrument a little, but only for my own amazement.–Fred Allen
Setting my mind on a musical instrument was like falling in love. All the world seemed bright and changed.–William Christopher Handy
The very same book, even if it is translated very accurately, let’s say from Hebrew into English or from English into Hebrew, becomes a different book because language is a musical instrument.–Amos Oz
Everybody in our family studied a musical instrument. My father was really big on that.–Madonna Ciccone
Not all activities are equal… Those that involve genuine concentration – studying a musical instrument, playing board games, reading, and dancing – are associated with a lower risk for dementia.–Norman Doidge
I’ve been traveling all over the world for 25 years, performing, talking to people, studying their cultures and musical instruments, and I always come away with more questions in my head than can be answered.–Yo-Yo Ma
I have learned that there lies dormant in the souls of all men a penchant for some particular musical instrument and an unsuspected yearning to play on it, which are bound to wake up and demand attention someday.–Mark Twain
In addition, help your children learn self-discipline by such activities as learning to play a musical instrument or other demanding skill.–Joe J. Christensen
I met a lot of amazing people whose lives were changed (for the better) by the power of music. Music gave them strength to get out of abusive relationships or to just pick up a musical instrument and learn to play.–Lita Ford
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