The Recorder! A Great Introduction to Music for Your Student
By Dennis Taboada
Let’s face it, It’s difficult for a child to pick up an instrument and make music. To produce a basic sound on most wind instruments, for example, children have to learn the correct embouchure (the shape of the mouth’s muscles) and rudimentary technique. But it’s easy to play a recorder because all that’s needed is your own ability to breathe. Another advantage of the recorder is that it is very inexpensive to purchase and easy to carry for small children. Most children that take up the recorder are motivated to continue since they can play simple songs often from the very first lesson.
This is the reason that a majority of Schools often teach recorder to the younger age students. Another advantage of taking up the recorder at an early age, is that the recorder can easily fit into an ensemble. In other words, students can quickly learn to play in a group with other recorder players. Getting young students to play in a group or ensemble, give them added comfort of being part of a team or family. The students tend to learn of each other as well as from the teachers or parents.
Studies have shown that students that begin on the recorder tend to go on to more conventional instruments. The foundation of basic music learned from playing the recorder is carried on and built up upon in the higher instrument studies.
The recorder was a fundamental instrument to the renaissance and baroque ensembles, and eventually became a favorite instrument of the English and Italian aristocracy —King Henry the VIII had an extensive collection of recorders.
Although my main instrument growing up was the
Saxophone I gained a love for Baroque music. Since the
saxophone does not lend itself as a Baroque instrument, I
picked up the Tenor recorder. Along with several friends
from my High School band and Orchestra, we formed a
recorder group. We had bass, tenor, soprano, and
sopranino recorders. We played all the Baroque music we
could find. We would rehearse at different locations
around our town to find the best acoustical sound. That
location was in a tunnel that lead to the beach on Long
Island where I grew up.
Suzuki Method requires parents to be involved in learning .
One day a person asked us if we would play background music at an afternoon party in the Hamptons which was on the ocean side of eastern Long Island. It turned out the party was at the home of famous author Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Some would say that recorder is not a “gig” instrument, but my experience proved to differ. I love playing the recorder because it is so easy to learn and play.
It is important that your student have a teacher that is knowledgeable and passionate about teaching music. I like to lean toward the Suzuki Method of teaching where the student is introduced to listening and coping tunes first. However, the Suzuki method relies on the parents or guardians to be very involved in the student’s practice. It is common for the parents or guardians to actually take the lessons with the student with the requirement of actually practicing with the student. The founder of the Suzuki Method, Shinichi Suzuki believed talent is not inherited, and any child could excel musically, given the right learning environment.Today, advocates of the method continue to echo Suzuki’s idea that “the potential of every child is unlimited”, and caring learning environments help children unlock that potential.