Hitting the high notes!

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  • #1627
    Jocelyne Yendall
    Participant

    I’ve recently started playing recorder again after a 20 year hiatus. I’m managing to get all notes up until high A. (Shocked myself that I could get some of half thumb notes, they were the bane of my life when I was learning all those years ago).
    I just cannot get a decent sound at all, not really sure what I’m doing wrong. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Could it be placement of thumb that is causing this? I can get a high G to sound perfect but as soon as I attempt high A, it goes flat (sounds dreadful!) do I need to reposition my thumb to get a beautiful high A. It’s preventing me from playing pieces I want to play. Or is it all in the breath?

    #1634
    Edward Plumer
    Participant

    Jocelyne, You dont say whether you are on an alto or soprano. Sarah on Team Recorder Youtube channel has a nice presentation on high notes. See especially the discussion of air speed compared to volume. She has a nice analogy of cold and hot air blowing.

    #1636

    I will just add my 2 cents (Canadian currency,btw, therefore essentially valueless) as the previous answer seems to have basically covered everything, and note that I have found using my thumbnail to pinch the thumb hole (I am guessing that I really didn’t need to specify which hole the thumbnail might cover) seems to help me hit the high notes on recorders sized alto and down. Shading sometimes helps, but often is more hinders the process by throwing my intonation out of whack. Note: for tenor, I repeat process but add prayer or maybe light a candle. I should add that flesh adjacent to the nail is also used, just that the nail gives me a sharp edge to allow me to more easily leave just a tiny fraction of the hole open. As this will vary with player, I suspect, try fiddling about with it to find what gap works best for you.

    #1639
    Jocelyne Yendall
    Participant

    Hi there! I play both descant and treble. After a month or so of intense practice, I can comfortably hit a high B on the descant (sometimes I can achieve the high high C, but it’s still hit at miss), and on the treble I can comfortably get to a high E.
    Breath control and confidence works.
    Thanks for the advice, I love Sarah Jeffery so I will check her video on high notes out
    I’m confident that with practice I’ll get to the top register with ease

    #1640
    Edward Plumer
    Participant

    Ken Wollitz also has a nice description in his book about breath which amounts to fast air but without letting pressure build up behind the tongue. That has also been helpful for me. If I “panic” on run up the scale and tense up or try to force the notes, the notes above C are doomed.

    Another thought, if you are getting the notes initially and then they fall apart, check for moisture in either the windway OR the head bore. I find that on my plastic YRA-312 (alto) the high D and F seem especially flakey when the instrument is wet. I end up needing to swab out the whole recorder in the middle of practice session before I can continue with those notes.

    #1674
    Kevin Pfeiffer
    Participant

    Breath control and confidence works.

    What helps with the confidence, I find, is finding a ‘secure’ practice room, i.e. a room where you aren’t constantly worried about who might have heard you or what they might say. You need psychological (not to mention acoustic) space to try things out.

    For extra practice and to overcome fears of the upper register someone taught me to start my practice sessions with two warm-up scales (here on treble/alt). The first is the C major scale starting on the D above the upper C and going down, the second is the F major scale starting on the high g. This way you are starting your practice sessions with two of the most difficult notes (aside from the high F sharp, etc.). It’s very satisfying when you can begin to hit these two notes just right (at least some of the time) ‘cold’.

    Best wishes,

    Kevin

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