LEATHAM MUSIC

Recorder Lessons in Albury

Music for everyone!

Recorder lessons CHILDREN AND ADULTS of all ages are most welcome, especially parents wishing to learn alongside their children in shared lessons. Recorders also work well as a shared experience for brothers and sisters.

Our main focus is building comprehensive music skills that allow our students to enjoy music as a lifelong pursuit. Our emphasis is in developing strong sight-reading ability, allowing players to explore music they enjoy on their own.

The recorder is an inexpensive way to learn fundamental music reading skills that are directly applicable to other wind instruments. It has a long history of beautiful music, from Medieval times to the present day.

As a specialized study the recorder is not a toy for beginners, but a wonderful instrument that can be taken to University level qualifications. Contemporary musicians such as Genevieve Lacey are among Australia’s most popular classical music artists.

Choice of instrument

Albury’s local music store Blackline Music can supply Aulos Series 700 recorders suitable for beginners. Avoid the very cheap plastic toys. Good quality descant (soprano) recorders start at about $40.

Treble (alto) recorders, one size larger at around $80, are often a better choice for adults. The instrument is better suited to larger hands and the solo repertoire is much larger.

A wide range of more advanced wooden instruments for serious musicians is available from Orpheus Music.

Choice of tutor book

At intermediate and advanced levels there are many fine books available, all assuming that the player wishes to develop the dexterity required to tackle everything from the 16th century to contemporary music.

However, for complete novices there are few books that begin with the same goal in mind. Several authors offer an outstanding Book 2 following a rather mediocre Book 1. Few of the teach-yourself-at-home books or common school texts even begin to address the technical and musical challenges of the recorder.

Beware of soprano (descant) books that omit low F and B♭.

Any sign of something like this: B–A–G–A–B–B–B etc. written in capital letters is a red flag to me. Avoid such books if your ultimate aim is to read music and play tunes you hear around you at movies, church or home.

Beginner recorder books often DELIBERATELY AVOID teaching notes that allow you to join in school wind bands or family music making activities. It is rare to find Low C, High E♭, Low or High F, or B♭ in beginner books.

For example, friends who start on any other wind instrument will manage a good selection of Christmas Carols after a year of lessons. Children relying on one of the popular beginner tutors will not have learned enough to join in unless they have ventured outside the book to learn some extra notes.

An exception is Recorder for Beginners by Susan Lowenkron which introduces right hand notes early and builds four major scales by the end of the book.

More reasons for avoiding left hand oriented beginner books are explained in a separate article.

Technical work

Learning new music quickly depends on spider reflexes to move your fingers the instant you see a note, even if it is a B♯ or F♭. Many players know that B♭ is the same as A♯ but hesitate if they see an A♯ when sight-reading. Note recognition is a vital skill that improves with daily scales and arpeggios. In a consort the group won’t stop while you ponder an E♯.

Ultimately, if you want to call yourself a recorder player, you should be comfortable with The Charlton Method by Andrew Charlton. You first need to have all 24 scales under you fingers, in thirds, and the arpeggios. Peter Billam's excellent Daily Recorder Exercises will help consolidate these fundamental finger patterns and train your mind to remember the key signatures.

I have placed the Charlton book at an arbitrary Level 6 and the Billam exercises at Level 4 then written intermediate levels. This way you can build your note-reading skills on descant, treble, tenor or bass in a methodical manner.

Beginner
Level 1
Level 2
Level 3
Level 4

Peter Billam’s wonderful recorder transcriptions have much to offer intermediate players. Please explore his site and download the Daily Exercises for Recorder.

Level 5
Level 6

Other resources

Beginner books

Videos

Recorder Inspiration

Charlotte Barbour-Condini is a name all recorder students should know. Children are usually keen to name their sporting or movie heroes but even moderately advanced players struggle to name a handful of fine musicians. Here is a great place to start.

Perhaps the greatest player of all time, Michala Petri has inspired composers to write new recorder music.

A random list of other past and modern masters to hear on YouTube, Spotify, SoundCloud or iTunes include:

  • Aldo Abreu
  • Piers Adams
  • Kees Boeke
  • Erik Bosgraaf
  • Aldo Bova
  • Frans Brügen
  • António Carrilho
  • Lorenzo Cavasanti
  • Saskia Coolen
  • Alan Davis
  • Carl Dolmetsch
  • Walter van Hauwe
  • Marion Kokott
  • Dan Laurin
  • Hans-Martin Linde
  • Dorothee Oberlinger
  • Maurice Steger
  • Pamela Thorby
  • John Turner
  • Marion Verbruggen.

Australia has a pool of world class performers and teachers. With a little research you can find recordings by these fine musicians that will open your mind to the possibilities of this glorious instrument.

  • Alana Blackburn
  • Zana Clarke
  • Hannah Coleman
  • Rachel Cogan
  • Alicia Crossley
  • Genevieve Lacey
  • Robyn Mellor
  • Hans-Dieter Michatz
  • Rodney Waterman
  • Ryan Williams
  • Ruth Wilkinson

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