Recorder playing has become an integral part of school music activities largely due to its embodiment of essential musical elements. However, many teachers have yet to consider forming a school recorder band by grouping talented and interested students together.
Gist of Forming a Band
It is indeed not that difficult to form a band to begin with. Take a 4-class-Form for instance; only 5 students from each class in Form 2 and 3 would make up enough members for the band.
The structure of the band should be like this: please refer to Picture 1;
In order to suit the variations among different music pieces, each part of the band should be able to swap with one another any time. Among the 5 parts, soprano and treble share the same fingering, whereas the sopranino, alto and bass fall into the same group. A player would only need to be familiar with soprano and alto to easily master the rest.
Furthermore, teachers should in mind the following principles in order to effectively train students:
- Beginners should use a good quality plastic recorder instead of a cheap wooden one, for the sake of tonal accuracy
- The difference between Baroque and German fingering, take soprano for example, lies in F and F Sharp. Since Baroque tends to have superior tonal accuracy and quality, as well as a more complete selection, it is always preferable for long-term development of the band.
- Sounding and written range:please refer to Picture 2;
- Fingering: When pressing the holes, you should avoid sticking out the fingers. This will not only affect your poise but also slow down your reflex movement while playing. The correct way is to use the soft-tissue part of the finger to cover the hole as much as possible. On the other hand, the left thumb is the essential control for the high pitch part of the recorder. All you need to do is leave a small cleft to attain the high pitch; the smaller the cleft, the higher the note gets. Beginners should be aware of being misled by the instructions shown in the fingering chart that half of the hole should be open.
- Keep the shoulders level while breathing. Try to breathe with the diaphragm instead of just blowing air into the hole. Breathe like you are sighing lightly.
- "Blowing out" is the technique of using the tongue to accentuate which many beginners are not aware of. Many teachers have also ignored this since they couldn't tell how students are using their tongues. Nevertheless, the technique is a stepping stone to further mastering the recorder by using different ways to play a piece.
Administration and Organization Makes a Better Band
If the organizational structure allows, it would be preferable for teachers to be conductors at the same time. Otherwise, a professional instructor could be hired so that the teacher could be fully dedicated to administration work.
The provision of a stable environment is also important for students to develop their interest and training experience. Within the school setting and being part of a band, students could be well-nurtured and build up their confidence as a musician.