recorder method online : descant/sopranoa 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

First Octave: B :: A :: G :: E :: D :: C :: F :: F#/Gb :: Bb/A# :: C#/Db :: G#/Ab :: D#/Eb :: Second Octave :: Third Octave

This section gives advice on the following topics:

How To Finger The Note A
How To Tongue The Notes A and B
Playing Staccato
How To Slur The Notes A and B

How To Finger The Note A

The second note we learn, A on the descant (soprano) recorder, lies on the second space from the bottom of 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 first octave A is written 0 1 2.

How To Tongue The Notes A and B

In the previous lesson you discovered how to tongue the note B. You will find that the same tonguing stroke and strength with the fingering given above will produce a perfectly good A. Moving between the two notes, you need to coordinate the tongue and finger movements so that there are no extraneous sounds in piece no. 2a. Try detaching the notes so that there is a noticeable period of silence between them. Then, shortening the silences, make the musical line less detached and more legato. Notice that you need to move the finger more quickly as the period of silence is shortened.

Playing Staccato

Staccato playing is a matter of dividing a written note into a period of sound followed by an equal period of silence - it has nothing to do with tonguing strength which does not change. Staccato playing lightens the musical line and makes it seem softer. In this way, you can giving the impression of playing more quietly without changing the strength of the notes when they are sounding, so avoiding a problem common to all wind instruments that blowing less hard causes the pitch of the note to fall, i.e. to sound flat. On keyboard instruments, where there is almost no other way of making individual notes in a line softer than those around them, the 'staccato' effect is an essential tool in musical performance.

How To Slur The Notes A and B

One can move between notes without tonguing every one. If you tongue an A and then, while still blowing, lift up the second finger, the note changes to a B. If the finger moves too slowly you will hear an extraneous sound between the two notes. This is the result of shading while the moving finger lies close enough to the hole to modify the recorder's pitch. If the movement is quicker, you will hear only the two notes. Slurring may seem easier than tonguing because you do not need to coordinate the tongue with your finger movements, but in many ways it is more difficult because it requires very precise finger movement with no silences between notes to hide sloppy fingerwork. Later, when we move onto scales and arpeggios, you will discover the relative difficulties of tonguing and slurring in extended passage work. Extended slurring produces another problem - where to breathe. If there are no periods of silence, then there are no places to breathe. It is a good idea to use the exercises suggested earlier to develop lung capacity and to try to make a pleasant sound using only a moderate breath pressure. The recorder is not a loud instrument - it is not necessary to blow huge quantities of air into it to get the best out of it. As you play more and more music, you will understand why air for a wind instrument player is like water for someone in the desert. You use every trick to conserve it and to make the best use of it. The problems are that much greater if you are playing a larger instrument such as a tenor. You may like to try piece no. 2b which makes use of extensive slurring before moving onto the next lesson.