The soprano recorder (also known as a descant recorder) has a great deal to say for itself. If you’re thinking of taking up a musical instrument, this little one could prove the ideal choice for you. The five main types of recorders used in recorder consorts (ensembles) are sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, and bass.
Here are six reasons why the recorder is the instrument to learn:
1. The recorder is easy to learn
If you’re not used to music-making, you’ll find the recorder a pleasingly simple instrument to master. The necessary skills are easy to grasp, and you’ll be able to play a few tunes in next to no time. On the other hand, if you’re keen to progress, and find its high range limiting, you can move on to the larger, lower-pitched alto, or play them both by turn. A wonderful fairly simple classical piece to learn is Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy.
2. The instrument’s voice is bright and beautiful
Some instruments grate on the ear when you’re learning, but the recorder’s soft, sweet tones won’t trouble you or your housemates, whatever mistakes you make. Its pure, sing-song tone will be pleasing to produce and to listen to, especially when you’ve got to grips with a tune or two.
3. A recorder is easy to handle
The soprano recorder is light and compact, fitting comfortably into a shoulder bag, briefcase, or even a large handbag. That makes it an unusually handy instrument to travel with, whether you’re taking it on holiday or just over to a friend’s place for shared music-making. It’s also structurally robust and will survive most knocks and falls. Being small and lightweight, you’ll find it easy on the arms when you play, and comfortable on the lips, too.
4. Playing a recorder is therapeutic
There’s nothing like playing the recorder for chilling out or cheering up after a stressful day. The sound will soothe you, while the finger-work will occupy restless hands. The deep breaths and controlled releases involved will stimulate your heart and lungs, leaving you calm and energized afterward. What’s more, you can sit, stand or stroll about as you play, or even swing to the beat. For the added joy of harmony, you could play to some recorded music or ask a fellow musician to accompany you.
5. Recorders are affordable
A standard-quality soprano recorder won’t cost you much, perhaps the price of a big box of chocolates or a bouquet of flowers, and won’t need much maintenance either. By contrast, most musical instruments require significant financial outlay, both for purchase and maintenance.
6. There’s plenty of music for recorder players
The recorder lends itself to many styles of music, including classical, jazz and folk. It sounds good with other instruments, too, such as the piano, guitar, drums and string ensembles, so there’s plenty of scope for music-making. If you like improvising, look out for a local jazz or freestyle group to join, or make up some tunes of your own at home. If you prefer reading a score, you’ll find a wide range of recorder music online. For a rich sound and overall experience, get together with some other amateur musicians; you’ll be surprised how many there are in your neighborhood.
If you’re a good whistler, you’ll find the recorder an enjoyable way to extend your skill, and if you have nimble fingers, they’ll be in their element bobbing about over the holes. But whatever your physical strengths or weaknesses, you’re sure to find the soprano recorder a rewarding choice of instrument.
And thanks to Victoria for the photo of the flutist.