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.


Bringing It All Together!

I’m enjoying the benefits of getting older! I no longer feel the need to worry about a professional persona and being perceived as ‘a Jill of all trades’. For some years, I’ve mantained several websites and blogs to reach different sections of the online community, though ‘Making Music Matters’ has been the one place where I have posted about the breadth of my musical interests. Now, I’ve created a new page, “Audrey’s Places” where I have linked to my other sites and I’ve signed up for Twitter. I’ve only been on it for a day but I’ve already found several really interesting sites¬† through it. I had studiously avoided Twitter till now because I have great difficulty with social chit-chat. This has been a big handicap to me as a blogger because I don’t feel inclined to post unless I have something I really feel a need to say. The prospect of writing 140 characters, though, is a lot less of a big deal, so I finally checked it out. I think it will be a great place to dip into ‘lots of pies’ and will be a stimulus for more frequent blogging. Hopefully, it may be a cure for my ‘split personality – watch this space!

Follow me on Twitter:@FullPitcher

New Year, New Beginners – New Music?

Not a few people will be the delighted recipients of new musical instruments as Christmas presents. For beginners, it’s the start of a great new journey and they can’t wait to set off and it’s a joy and privilege for teachers to set them on their way! The first few weeks are not without anxieties for teachers, though, as the pupils discover that there is very little instant gratification in playing a musical instrument. While the pupil can play only 2 or 3 notes, the only available tunes are likely to be in the chosen method book. This is fine for the pupil who can sail quickly through the early lessons but it can be a problem when reinforcement is not only desirable but necessary before proceeding to the next step. This is where the Full Pitcher beginner downloads can come in very useful. The “…. Start Here” series is available for Recorder, Flute, Clarinet, Violin and Cello. Each download has warm-up exercises and several tunes, the first using just 2 notes. They are in pdf format and can be displayed on screen for class use or as many copies printed as are required. Piano accompaniments are also available. Unlike many beginner pieces, though, these do not have the main interest confined to the teacher’s part! The scores can be listened to online and, in some cases, there is also audio of accompaniments only, “minus-one” style.

Have a great journey!