Alto low notes question


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    Alex C

    I am new to the recorder and have recently acquired my first, a plastic Triébert alto recorder with F as lowest note. I have been learning the basic fingerings with fairly good success at getting the notes right. However, I more often than not still have issues with playing the low F and G, whereby they will sound an octave higher than expected and the correct pitch sometimes will come after continuing the same breath. This happens even when I blow very gently. Is this a matter of a technique to learn? Is it possible there is something wrong with my recorder? I have entertained the thought of buying another of the same one to see if I have the same issues.


    Mihaela Mack

    Well, it’s probably a combination of both the recorder and your technique. The low notes on an alto recorder are difficult for a beginner. It takes lots of practice. When I first started to play I wanted to throw the recorder out the window. I don’t really find it to be much of an issue any more. This is what helped me:
    1. the foot joint needs to be aligned properly; the pinky needs to reach the holes comfortably. There is a precise spot where that’s occurring. Once you find that spot you should remember where it is.
    2. the breath pressure has to be just right. You can drop your jaw and blow slow, warm air
    3. what helped me the most was to actually hear the pitch in my head before playing. When you do get the note in tune and with a full tone remember what it sounds like
    4. play long tones; play low F for as long as you can hold it (you can use a metronome to time yourself).
    I don’t know much about a Triebert recorder. It’s not available to buy where I live. Some recorders do have stronger bottom notes or stronger upper register than others. There are two alto plastic recorders that I have found to be very good in terms of intonation and good response in all registers and easy to play for beginners: the Yamaha 312 Biii and the Aulos 509 B. The Aulos Haka 709Bw is also very good but a little more difficult for beginners. The F is harder to get in the beginning, although once you get used to it it’s not really a problem. I hope this helps.
    One problem I have noticed with most recorder methods is that they start with the notes that are easy to play. I personally started with the difficult notes and that paid off. Whenever I start playing I always start with low F and then play various intervals that involve low F. Low F is my “grounding” note.

    Mihaela Mack

    I forgot to mention one really important thing. Make sure all the holes are covered. Sometimes your fingers will ever so slightly uncover some of the holes which results in not being able to play low F appropriately.

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