Thursday, April 26, 2007

Trying to master a new instrument

The recorder. No, no, not the tape recorder. The musical instrument.

C'mon, how hard can it be, the 4th grade kids at the last elementary school that I taught at mastered it, right? Piece of cake!

Except I can't seem to make the stupid thing behave. It wants to SQUAWK and squeak and squeal. Sometimes I can get the right sound out of it. Other times it sounds like fingernails scratching down a chalk board.

Sigh. Back to harmonica. At least with the harmonica the only way to make it sound bad is to clog it with your spit...

-- Badtux the not-woodwind-playin' Penguin


  1. I played the recorder very, very well...I think I got an "A" ... but then, I am a consummate musician...
    "snark, snark"

  2. It's the way you position your mouth and blow. Like the saxophone or the clarinet. I used to play the sax. The bottom lip is tucked over the bottom teeth and you kind of pinch the sides of your mouth. Then it's a matter of figuring out which angle to hold your head. Once you figure out that position, then you can learn the next mouth position that gives you an octave higher.

    For me, the hard part was keeping F and F-sharp and E straight, because I want to do the wrong thing with those fingers.

  3. Yeah, Georg, I sorta figured out it was more complicated than it looked (I mean, it's a WHISTLE with a TUBE on the end of it, how complicated can THAT be?!). At least it's not a flute. I could never get *any* sound out of a flute (not that I spent a *lot* of time with a flute, since the only one I had access to was at a friend's house and when I was visiting him we mostly had other things on our minds, like riding dirt bikes, talking politics, and drinking, and I mostly played on his piano when I felt like playing something... hold it, flute-playin' piano-playin' rednecks?!). I think penguin beaks just aren't shaped right to work flutes :-).

    As for the squawk, that happens when you have the wrong mouth position and head position and are between octaves, it wavers between them. I have no doubt that with sufficient practice I'll get it to hold a given octave, but I'm going to have to go grab some more instructional materials, unlike a piano this isn't an instrument where you just plunk your fingers down to get a note.

    All in all, I'm starting to suspect that my musical destiny is limited to instruments worked with fingers, not wind... especially since my wind isn't what it was in elementary school thanks to too many years of inhaling nasty stuff into my lungs when doing landscaping work and crawling around in attics doing electrical work (this was back before we knew anything about silicosis or asbestosis and the need for lung protection masks)...

  4. penny whistles are far superior to recorders. plus, the romance of hearing gaelic airs echoing off the desert canyon walls is exquisite.

  5. Recorder is the worst name for an instrument ever. Why didn't it a cool name?

  6. Recorders are okay, but keyboards are the best. B major, baby, B major...

  7. Hmm, I'll have to check out a penny whistle. One thing I'm trying to do is find a more portable musical instrument to carry around and play while I'm travelling. Sorry, my guitar just doesn't carry well in my backpack or luggage, and neither does my large piano keyboard even if it is much more portable than a real piano :-). The harmonica certainly qualifies as portable and I'm having a lot of fun learning to play it, especially with trying to wrangle underblown or overblown notes out of it, but the harmonica defiantly sounds like, well, a harmonica. If you know what I mean.

    -Badtux the Musical Penguin

  8. Me Darlin' Penguin, it be all in th'way ye use yer lips. Well, that an' how well ye can control yerself.

    Come t'think o'it, those instructions could be used in many situations...

    Suffice it t'say a lesbian Pirate Queen has t'know alot about lips an' control.

    It be one o' th'main things they teach at LPQ University afore they let one aboard a ship full o'feisty women. ;)


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