1-handed Recorder for a Beginner?

I was recently asked if I could suggest an instrument to enable a 1-handed child to join a beginner recorder class and thought my reply might be helpful to others:

Lovely to hear about your young would-be recorder player! The good news is that there are 1-handed recorders available and, depending on the child’s disability, may not be strictly necessary but there’s quite a bit of bad news too!

A 1-handed recorder makes all the notes available by adding keywork that can be raised and lowered using just the fingers of the available hand. This means that, once the notes played with just one hand have been mastered, the player must use a totally different system of fingering (ands this varies from one manufacturer to another). The teacher taking a class of players using normal fingering would not know this system and would have to familiarise themself with it without the benefit of having learned the new instrument. Of course, this would be eased by the class only needing to learn one new note at a time. The more complex system of fingering is also challenging for the child and may be beyond her if she has learning difficulties. A child with cerebral palsy is likely to have poor finger control and coordination, adding to the problems.

Although, I have taught a player on two different systems of 1-handed plastic recorder, I am unable to track down either of them at the moment. One was manufactured by Yamaha but there is nothing about 1-handed models on either their global or USA sites. You’d have to contact them directly to enquire. I believe Aulos also do one but, again, I can’t locate a supplier. Quality wooden instruments are available but expensive (over 600 US Dollars) and I wouldn’t recommend such an investment at this stage. There is an Aulos instrument in six sections (as opposed to the customary three) that can be customised to the needs of a player who has 6 digits available between the two hands. This is available from an American source at  http://www.rhythmband.com

Again, the cooperation of the teacher would be required to set it up.

If the child can use all the fingers and thumb on one hand, the first five notes can be played on a standard recorder and I would suggest getting one of these, very modestly-priced instruments to see how she gets on. Simple music for this stage is available in pdf format from the Full Pitcher at


These start with reminders of the written notes, warm-ups and tunes for just the first two note. Using these she could get in the extra practice and home support, likely to be needed by a child with special needs.

Do let me know how you get on and get back to me if you have further queries.


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