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Recorder Guide

by Arthur Nitka, Johanna E. Kulbach
128 pages
Price: $24.99

Like all good music books, The Recorder Guide begins with basic theory and notation—unlike lesser volumes, it proceeds in orderly fashion and includes important information concerning breathing methods and "tonguing" techniques (foundational, but often overlooked or underemphasized). With pieces for alto, soprano and tenor recorders, as well as a number of duets, this is an ideal manual for individuals and groups, young and old, musical beginners and musicians simply wanting to master a simple but elegant folk instrument.

New notes are introduced methodically. Before teaching the more difficult upper octave (which requires use of the thumb's "half-hole") students master the lower octave. Authors Kulbach and Nitka provide a wide array of folksongs (American, English, German, Finnish, Jewish, Swiss, French) with lyrics and chord symbols for ensemble playing, including guitar accompaniment. While diligent students could certainly make it through the lessons alone, this group-oriented layout makes The Recorder Guide an excellent choice for encouraging family playing.

The Recorder Guide is light on text, heavy on music. (It's also thoroughly illustrated throughout with black and white woodcuts and paintings that make you feel all old-fashioned and cool.) Where appropriate, special notes on particular techniques are included; otherwise, students simply master each song before moving on to the next. If you want to get really good (like, virtuoso good) on the recorder you'll have to move beyond this book, but it's an excellent introduction that will teach you to play standard tunes solo or accompanied with a minimum of frustration and confusion.

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