Beginnner Sound Problems

Recorder Forum Home Page Forum Teaching and Learning Beginnner Sound Problems

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    Batuhan Sütbeyaz

    Hello Everyone!

    Just bought a recorder today as my first musical instrument. So I don’t have an understanding of what is normal and what is wrong. When I close first 6 fingers, I get a normal sound but when I blow stronger I get a high pitch annoying sound. This happens at 4th and 7th holes also but not in 1, 2, 3, or 5th. I can blow as hard as as I want. Is this normal or can it be because of I bought a very cheap plastic recorder? Thanks.


    Yes it is normal with recorder. You only need to blow very gently, using slow, warm air.
    If you blow too hard on any recorder you will get a high squeaky note. As a test, blow air onto the back of your hand. If it feels cold it is too fast for recorder. If it is warm, that is what you want to play recorder.

    You don't stop playing when you get old. You get old when you stop playing.

    Ken In Dallas

    I find myself wondering if you took on too much too soon. You didn’t mention if you purchased a method book. All that I’ve seen start with a note or three using the left hand – the easiest to play and make a sound pleasant. The notes below those take a different ‘feel’ when you play them. The notes above that left hand have their own different ‘feel’ to play.

    When I work with a new player – no matter what their musical background – I have them use a book. I teach with “The Sweet Pipes Recorder Book – A Method for Adults and Older Beginners,” but they’re all much the same. The only thing you need to identify right off is if you own a Descant/Soprano recorder or a Treble/Alto recorder. You want a book for the instrument you have. Some even teach both at the same time.

    Method books introduce a note in musical notation and then have an exercise or two to get used to using that note. As you learn more notes, these exercises will develop your skill in feeling for and using the notes. Sometimes you learn timing; sometimes you learn something like part of a scale or the jumping of an interval. (Your fingers are learning to dance.) Lastly, a book will provide some melodies or more melodic groups of notes to give you something pleasant to do with the note(s) while reinforcing your skills.

    Today, even a ‘cheap plastic’ recorder is a marvel of engineering and likely won’t hold you back. Does it have the beautiful tone needed to play a solo accompanied by a symphony orchestra? It will likely do it’s job to teach the basics and then later help you find what you want in a more expensive instrument. Recorder players are very lucky. Our plastic instruments affordable and playable. Sometimes we even come to own too many of them. Ask my wife.

    There’s a wonderful woman on YouTube that’s produced a series called, “Team Recorder.” She has a first and second lesson video. Here’s the first:

    She also has a video on method books. She likely has a video on anything you want to know about your instrument. Take a look…. And welcome to the club. – k –

    Katia J

    I agree with all of the above. Most wind instruments (maybe not those with keys such as clarinets, orchestral flutes, modern oboes, etc.– I don’t have experience with those so I couldn’t tell you for sure, but I suspect it’s the same with them as well) are going to be harder to play the more fingers you put down. That’s why most people start with the easier (left-hand) notes and work their way down slowly.

    Also, keep in mind that the recorder is not meant to be overblown to produce an octave (as a whistle or Irish flute is). Recorder has fingerings to reach higher notes (admittedly, some of these require more/more-focused air, but that is well beyond what you need to worry about right now). So, take care that you do not blow too hard.

    A good experiment is to play around with your tone– how little air can you use and still produce the correct note? How much air can you use before you break pitch or get too hard of a tone?

    (Another problem you may find as you begin playing the right-hand notes is that they will squeak or not sound, because somewhere further up, another of your fingers has slipped verrrrrry slightly out of place. It can be enough that you would swear all of your fingers are correct, until you start adjusting them slightly… you may not even figure out which one was “wrong.” This simply takes time and practice to eliminate.)

    I also recommend a method book if you don’t already have one; the ones for kids are fine, but there are also those not geared toward kids. Antique Sound Workshop has a good writeup on method books here that is (IMO) very helpful for someone who can’t look through books and doesn’t have anyone they can ask for advice.


    Someone elsewhere suggested putting tape over the bottom holes and blowing till you hear the note. If you’re blowing too hard the note will crack, too soft and it will sound weak. Experiment with breath pressure till it sounds right (check against a tuner)

    You don't stop playing when you get old. You get old when you stop playing.

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