The Nobility of Instruments, the Recorder

Respected Professor Friedland:

Thank you for reading this and my apologies for asking a very begining question to such an accomplished proffesional as yourself (your credentials are impressive!).

I lead a small environmental NGO here in Panama. Having found a plastic Recorder (which I thought was named a flute), I have been playing it for a few days and find it really helps me unwind from all the stresses of the rainforest-saving-fights we face here daily. So I’m ready to dedicate more time to this new-found hobby, but cannot find anyone to help me with some critical questions:

1. The Recorder seems to be among the more portable of the woodwinds. I spend a lot of time backpacking in wet rainforest or canoeing to rivers and islands, and a light, portable, resistant musical instrument could be an immense plus in these trips (assuming I learn enough to play it entertainingly). please comment.

2. Given the need for portability, is the Recorder my best choice? Are there any other easier woodwinds which I might consider? Are there any that are easier to learn on one’s own (i.e. with books, videos, etc. – Panama is not an easy place to find lessons)?

3. I’m more atracted to Irish, traditional, native American, and folk tunes for woodwinds, so this might be a consideration in choosing an instrument and a way to train in the beggining?

Your orientation to this humble amateur wanna-be is enormously appreciated!

The Recorder, sometimes call flute depending upon what time period in history and language is surely the most simple of instruments to carry around, to transport without fear of breaking and/or cracking, especially if you keep a supply of plastic recorders on hand which are inexpensive and play well.

The most wonderful thing about this instrument is the huge amount of repertoire composed for it for at least the past six centuries or more. Some of the best music for winds was written for either the recorder or for any instrument with the same range of notes; not only that, but it is a remarkably easy instrument to play as a beginner, not really requiring more than an ability to read music.

As far as my interest in this instrument it came about through the rigors and problems encountered in performing new , avant-garde music during the 1960s in New York City.

Playing this “new” music was more like realizing it for the composer who frequently want something other than the notes they had chosen to put on paper, frequently completely different.

When the time came for me, I simply bought several recorders and used to play while in the bath, playing off a permanently set-up music stand there, complete with music and instrument. No reeds, no embouchure, nothing to interfere and it was a great relief to learn this beautiful instrument with its myriads of available music.

Now you have said hiking in the rain-forest and that you play in Panama. I cannot think of a better place in which to play the recorder.

The is, as you may have heard, an “International Recorder Society”.

One thinks that there must be a chapter in Panama, and I suggest you look for a chapter. As far as music i concerned, you can buy a copy of the Trapp Family Recorder Book, which contains enough material to occupy you for a while, but remember, the amount of material availble and the limited amount of actual development one has to acomplaish is strictly your own rate and is dependant upon your own musicality.

A teacher is always good for any instrument, however with recorder you come as close as you can to not really needing one.

Best of luck and thanks for writing.


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