- All children should have the experience of playing a musical instrument. This works practically in a classroom with the recorder: it is cheap, easy to play, and any teacher can lead the whole class in learning together. But good learning materials with recorded accompaniments are needed. In the past children have often started enthusiastically, but get bored with dull and routine music and give up.
- The descant recorder is relatively cheap, easily portable, durable, and can be stored in a small space. Children can own their instrument and achieve success rapidly and easily; their self-esteem is raised as they find that they can become instrumental players, gaining the confidence to play tunes and to see themselves, and be seen by others, as players – as musicians.
- The recorder is the ideal first instrument for children to explore the pleasure of solo playing and learning to read music: it can be played anywhere, in any position – behind the sofa or while relaxing in the bedroom. It is easy for the child to gain manipulative control of the instrument and eventually to feel the fingering and concentrate on listening to the tunes, without having to look for the notes.
- The recorder may sound like an old choice and it doesn’t quite resonate with the high technology of other developments in this millennium. But if we examine the merits of this little old instrument, we will find that it gives just what’s desperately needed – inclusivity and access for all.
- There is a simple sequence of fingering for the notes which corresponds to staff notation, making it easy to get started on learning to read music.
- The pattern of fingering is easily transferable to other wind instruments such as the flute and saxophone.
- The recorder need not be just a first instrument, it is also a serious musical instrument with its own repertoire. There is a host of recorder virtuosi and most major conservatoires have a recorder department. It was exciting to see the recorder-players as finalists in the BBC Young Musician of the Year : Charlotte Barbour-Condini (2012) and Sophie Westbrooke, (2014).
I Flautisti is a popular recorder quartet which gives thrilling concerts throughout Britain and the rest of Europe, often working with children.
- The Beatles are in the new GCSE Music syllabus, and don’t forget that Paul McCartney plays the recorder in the accompaniments to some of his songs!
Every child is potentially a musical performer or composer; as educators we must give all children the opportunity to fulfil their potential and join Sir Simon Rattle’s cry: ‘music is everyone’s birthright’.
“The contribution of the music industry to the economy is £3.5bn gross and more than 100,000 jobs.” (Prof. Barry Ife at the Westminster Educational Forum, 18 December, 2014). So it’s important to get started on music as soon as we can!