Back to school: Why learn the recorder?
Back in the Baroque era the recorder was not considered as a starting route for progressing onto other instruments but was treated as a professional instrument in its own right. Concertos were frequently written displaying the recorders virtuosic nature such as this one by Vivaldi.
In more recent times recorders are primarily made of cheaper plastic and in vast quantities. The cheap price combined with mass production made the recorder a very popular teaching aid in the classroom. The recorder has since been one of the most popular first instrument choices for decades and here are some reasons why!
- Little maintenance – Made of plastic there is very little that can go wrong and they can be stored assembled to avoid damage whilst putting them together. Just a rod and a cloth is enough to keep the interior dry.
- Temperature friendly – Unlike wooden instruments plastic recorders can handle thermal shocks making it the ideal choice to take on holiday or play outside.
- Portable – It’s small enough to fit inside most school bags or backpacks.
- Can be played by young children – The recorder can be used by young players with small hands and is very lightweight compared with a clarinet or sax.
- No time wasted on tuning – With string instruments a lot of time can be wasted on tuning which could be used on playing instead.
- Instant sound – Sound can be generated with ease with no resistance or specific embouchure
- Simple fingering – Tunes can be learnt easily
- Cheap to buy – A descant recorder can be bought for as cheaply as £6.50.
- Encourages progression to other instruments – The skills learnt playing the recorder are easily transferred onto other instruments.
As cons go I really can’t find any - except maybe the squeaks made by an over enthusiastic beginner over-blowing!