Dolmetsch Gold Series Recorders
Making music is something everyone should be able to enjoy.
For general information about instruments that have been modified for the disabled, go to Living my Song - Choosing an Instrument.
Since the 1930s, the Dolmetsch family has been making recorders customized to accommodate missing fingers and missing hands. In 1997, we were approached by REACH and asked to develop models that could be made in greater volume. Now, those who can use one hand only, whether the left or the right, can play the recorder. Those who have been born with only one working hand, or who have lost the use of an arm following an accident, a stroke or polio or any other condition making two handed use impossible, can, with our special key-system, play descant (called soprano in the US) and treble (called alto in the US) recorders. The descant (soprano) is more suitable for children while the larger treble (alto) can be used by children and adults alike. Further details and pictures are available below.
Abigail, one of our more recent Gold series customers!
Those interested in using the recorder with children who have missing or incomplete hands may wish to contact REACH, who assist children with missing hands, or HEMI-Help, who assist the hemiplegic.
REACH offers one-handed recorders for hire. Information about this scheme is downloadable here.
REACH has a superb comprehensive list of links to sites that give further information and help to those with or those caring for those with limb deficiency.
The original development of the model was inspired by Brenda Dickeson, who had contracted polio in her twenties, and used one of our Gold Series keyed hand-made treble instruments until her death in 2017, aged 88. Brenda worked to encourage music examining boards to make their repertoire and procedures responsive to users of recorders fitted with this fingering system.
Standard Gold Series Descant/Soprano and Treble/Alto Recorders
Gold model pearwood descant for the right hand.
Please note: current production uses only rosewood for its greater reliability.
Dolmetsch has produced a sophisticated, fully functional musical instrument at a reasonable price for players who use only one hand (e.g. those who have never had two working hands or because of loss, or following polio or stroke leading to hemiplegia, can now use only one hand). The Gold series is now available in rosewood, with left & right variants. We have switched to rosewood because this is a better material than pearwood for making stable, reliable keywork. The design, where four keys replace the finger and thumb of a missing or unusable hand, incorporates a two-position thumbkey (closed/open), operated via a key with the smallest finger of the useable hand. We have used gold, rather than nickel plating, to avoid allergy problems associated with nickel. Each instrument is fitted with a special adjustable thumbrest and is supplied with accessories - cork grease, cleaning stick and fingering/general information sheet. We would recommend the treble for adults but both the descant and the treble for children.
We also fit the same key system to handmade recorders - the keys are fitted and supplied free of charge. We give more information below about this special arrangement.
Every recorder is supplied with information on its care and a fingering chart.
You may print out the complete set of fingering charts and the recorder care leaflet from the links further down the page or from our pdf file resource page.
The Gold series recorder fingering charts have been prepared in both 'left-hand' and 'right-hand' versions. When downloading these charts, please make sure you use the chart that is specific to the model of recorder being used. This will avoid unnecessary confusion on either the player or the teacher's part.
For information about the availability of Dolmetsch Gold Series One-Handed Recorders please contact
3511 TW Utrecht
if calling from the UK dial 00 31 30 2316393
if calling from The Netherlands dial 030 2316393
Go to their website for further contact details.
Gold Series System Fitted To Handmade Recorders
The Gold series key system can be fitted to Dolmetsch handmade recorders (descants & trebles at modern & low pitch). This is a boon to those who have suffered their loss or loss of use later in life, possibly after having had many years of enjoyment from a quality wooden recorder. The hand-made models possess all the tonal characteristics of our finest instruments, strength, beauty of tone, precise intonation and voicing. The treble/alto recorder shown on the left is made of tulipwood. The whole of the gold-plated keywork, here made for a right-handed player, is fitted to the middle section. The thumbhole key, which is the lowest on the instrument, overhangs the top of the foot section.
Gold Series Fingering Charts and Care Leaflet
VAT Exemption For Gold Series Recorders
We describe below the rules as they apply to the Gold recorder series and to handmade recorder which have been fitted with the Gold series keywork where these are to be used by a qualifying disabled recorder player. To maintain exemption for these products we are unable to sell them to non-qualifying recorder players as to do so will lose them their VAT-exempt status for all users.
Individuals who qualify for VAT exemption because of their disability can purchase Gold series recorders free of VAT. This exemption is available to U.K. residents and to E.C. residents who can provide suitable proof of their disability (i.e. doctor's letter, certificate of disability). Please note: the disability has to be relevant to the need for a specially modified recorder - there has to be a loss or loss of controlled use of one hand. The exemption is also available to charities who purchase these instruments on behalf of qualifying users.
If you have any questions on this point please refer to
Group 14 of Schedule 5 to the Value Added Tax Act 1983
where this relief is given.
We would like to acknowledge the assistance of the Portsmouth Office of H.M. Customs and Excise in clarifying this matter and for helping us gain exemption for the Gold recorder series.
Organisations With Whom We have Worked On This Series
We wish to recognise the assistance and advice given during the development of this special project by Peter Norman (Canada), Brenda Dickeson (England), Kate Alexandra (England) and
Each has made significant contributions to the development of this product through comments, advice and design improvement suggestions. Peter Norman purchased an earlier one-handed recorder based on a more modest key-system as well as designing and building a system of his own.