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

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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 D
How To Tongue The Note D
Playing Low Notes

How To Finger The Note D

The fifth note we learn, D on the descant (soprano) recorder, lies below the bottom line 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 D is written 0 1 2 3 4 5 6a 6b.

How To Tongue The Note D

Low E was the first note we studied where we had to use both hands together. The next note D also uses both hands together. If you finger the low E and then drop the third finger of the right hand on to the two small holes below you will, if you have covered both holes fully without moving the two right hand fingers already lying on the other two holes above, and using gentle tonguing, produce a clean clear low D. Take care that, as you add the third right hand finger you do not disturb the position of the left hand. The supporting right hand thumb should lie in the position you found using the manoeuvre recommended in First Things First. Bear in mind both for the D and later for the bottom C that, in common with all lower notes on the recorder, the instrument speaks quickest if you use a soft tonguing stroke. If you tongue too hard, the instrument may squeak. This 'cry of protest' is the recorder 'overblowing', trying to produce the D one octave higher than the D you want. This tendency is greater on larger recorders where the voicing is often set to favour the upper register and as a result the bottom notes are 'delicate'. Generally, you will find a pure, round tone musically a lot more pleasing than one with lots of higher harmonics. Occasionally, you may want to generate more 'chiff' into your low notes, particularly where a percussive effect is required. Then you can increase the force of your tonguing although this does not mean that you need to blow harder which will only tend to sharpen the pitch or weaken the sound.

Playing Low Notes

If you find playing low notes difficult there is a simple aid to distinguishing incorrect tonguing from incompletely covered tone holes. Place pieces of masking tape over the holes you would normally cover with the right hand - use your left hand to cover the left hand holes as usual. Now you can be certain that the tone holes are sealed and you can concentrate on experimenting to find the correct strength of tonguing stroke. When you tongue, and if the notes 'squeak' rather than 'speak', try the weaker tonguing stroke 'too' instead of 'ti', 'tu' or 'te', dropping the jaw to increase the size of the oral cavity but keeping the lips sealed around the tip of the recorder beak. Piece no. 5 has been written to improve your playing of low notes as individuals and also when coming to them from notes higher in the instrument's register. You need to feel the correction that you must make both with your tonguing stroke and with your breath pressure so that any note on the instrument starts cleanly without any initial explosion of sound caused by over strong tonguing or any swooping up to pitch because your initial breath pressure is too weak. You will find it easier after playing for a few weeks to sense the right tonguing stroke and breath pressure as you play different notes on the recorder. What you learn here on the descant (soprano) you will have to learn again on every other size of recorder and you will even have to make subtle adjustments as you move from one make to another or between two instruments of the same size.