Beginning Recorder: Tips on Avoiding the "Squeaks" and Achieving a Pleasant Sound

The first few weeks of teaching recorder can be a challenge – especially for a music teacher’s ears! By starting off your students with good habits and effective modeling, you will be setting your class up for success.  The tips below are some great ideas to help achieve a beautiful tone and sound with your students.  

Consistent Rules and Procedures:  

During the first class, teach and practice the three positions for the recorders.  This will help prevent students from blowing into their instruments by accident. Also, when students first come to class, tell them to use the “Practice Position” with their books while you set up. 

  1. Rest Position – On your lap. You are not playing, just listening to the teacher.
  2. Practice Position – Students rest the recorder on their chin and can practice making the fingers for the notes.
  3. Playing Position – This is when they play their instrument.

Hand Position:  

In the “Recorder Kit Level 1” the method starts with the notes B, A, and G.  However, I teach my students how to hold and attempt to play all the notes the first class. Review every class that the left-hand goes above, the right-hand is below.  I turn my back to the class, ask them to do a “thumbs up” with their left hand and then turn and place it on the back of the recorder.  We then practice covering all the holes, adding the right hand the first class.  We try playing it – and it’s not pleasant - but over the weeks the students enjoy the challenge!

Cover the Holes Completely: 

Ask students to look at their fingers and find the pads of their fingers.  Tell students if they are covering the holes completely, they will see “recorder prints” on the pads of their fingers.  Go over the hand position activity above and see if they get “recorder prints” on their finger pads.

Model and Teach Not to “Overblow”: 

It is surprising for your students how gently they have to blow into their instrument.  A few ideas to share with your students include:

  1. Blow warm air into your hand – that’s how soft you have to blow.
  2. Pretend you are blowing on a bubble and you don’t want it to pop.
  3. Think “doo” not “woo” when blowing into your instrument.  This also helps to separate the notes with their tongue.
  4. Model often what the recorder should sound like.  It can also be helpful to share a few fun YouTube videos.  Here are some of our favourites: 

All this and more available in the Recorder Resource Kit Level 1 and 2.  Order yours today! 


Recorder Resource Kit 1:  Includes 38 songs, sequenced for success!  BAG ED C'D' F  Includes mad minutes, theory, duet parts (for differentiation or split classes).  Reproducibles are given using regular and kids notes notation.  Includes projectables!
Recorder Resource Kit 2: This sequential resource is intended for second year recorder students, but reviews the notes in the event that you have students in your class that have never played recorder. There are 24 songs for two-part soprano recorders. Your students will enjoy playing recorder duets. There is an optional alto recorder part, giving your students the option of playing easy three part ensembles. Digital resources included. 
Alto Recorder Resource Teacher's Guide
Alto Recorder Resource Teacher’s Guide: This is a beginning recorder method for Alto Recorder with 60+ unison and duets in the book, carefully sequenced so that children will have success in the very first lesson. The Teacher’s Guide includes projectables, performance movies, optional soprano recorder parts, fingering posters, piano accompaniments, and ukulele/guitar chords.


    Share this post...
    Previous post Next post