recorder method online : descant/sopranoc natural
Dr. Brian Blood

home :: resources :: music theory & history :: recorder lessons :: music dictionary :: physics of musical instruments :: e-monographs

contents :: help page :: first things first :: fingering charts :: glossary of recorder terms :: Quick C :: Quick F :: comments or queries?site map :: quick search

Important: To see and hear our 'live' music examples you will need to install the free Scorch plug-in for PC and MAC systems.

First Octave :: Second Octave :: Third Octave: C :: C#/Db :: D :: Eb/D# :: E :: F :: F#/Gb :: G

This section gives advice on the following topics:

How To Finger The Note C
How To Tongue The Note C

How To Finger The Note C in the Third Octave

The twenty fifth note we learn, C in the third octave on the descant (soprano) recorder, lies on the second leger line above the treble clef. Click on the play button in the Sibelius score to hear it. Below that we give the standard fingering for this note, the fingering you would use under normal circumstances.

Legend: = hole covered = hole uncovered = pinched thumbhole

Recorder Thumb 1 2 3 4 5 6b
  -----left hand------ -----right hand-----


Using the standard nomenclature, the fingering for third octave C is written X 1 4 5.

How To Tongue The Note C in the Third Octave

When one has been playing the recorder for many years top C, the name we give to C in the third octave, holds few, if any, fears. However, for the beginner, this note arrives with a fearsome reputation. For most players, difficulties with the very highest notes on the recorder arise from a poor technique and a corresponding lack of confidence. And yet, top C is like every other note on the recorder; it needs the correct thumb position, the correct fingering, the correct tonguing stroke and a sufficient amount of air to support it once the tonguing stroke has done its job. So, let us consider each of these matters in turn.

Many times before we have stressed the importance of a small thumbhole opening. For top C this is a vital ingredient. Next, study the chart to learn the correct fingering for top C. You will remember, by now, the trick we have been using to learn how much air the high notes need to sustain them, and here again we will choose a sequence of notes to discover how much air top C requires. We recommend starting from top B, the note introduced in the previous lesson. It is vital in this exercise that top B speaks freely and is sustained, before you raise the second finger of the left hand to slur up to top C. On most recorders, you should need no greater flow of air for top C than you are already using for top B. So now try slurring up from B to C. Try it a few times until you are happy, first, that high B is sounding freely, and second, that you can hold top C for a quarter of a minute if not longer. If you find yourself running out of air, stop the note cleanly before your reserves of air are exhausted. Awareness of your body's air capacity is another important ingredient in playing high notes with confidence.

Assuming that you are now able to slur this sequence, try another slurred sequence, namely, middle G, A, B natural and finally top C which again you should hold for as long as you can. You should sense the increasing demand for air as you move from G to top C. Slurred sequences tell you a lot about your instrument, about the tuning and the air flow requirements, and a good player uses this kind of playing to learn as much as he or she can before trying the same sequences with every note tongued. Remember, tonguing is a very short process in the production of a note. To be sure, it influences the character of the note but, except when playing lots of fast passages, it is what you do with the notes after you have tongued them that will impress your listeners most. This is where the intelligent use of your limited reserves of air becomes a determinant in how convincing you will be in projecting and characterising a musical line, even one filled with slow moving high notes. This is something we will cover in a separate lesson about tone colour and the characterisation of the musical line.

You should now try the first sequence, B natural to top C, tonguing each note, remembering to use a short firm stroke immediately followed by the correct amount of air flow, and, once you are happy with this, try the sequence G, A, B natural and top C. Remember the three rules for playing exercises: i. play and listen; ii. listen and think; iii. think and play.

One you are happy with this why not play piece no. 25.