How to Read Sheet Music for a Recorder

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How to Read Sheet Music for a Recorder
The recorder is popular due to its small size and simplicity of structure. (Recorder image by Ellanorah from Fotolia.com)

The recorder, a small woodwind instrument that was developed in the Middle Ages, is popular due to its small size and simplicity of structure. While it is often used as a starter instrument for young students, the American Recorder Society reveals that this instrument’s popularity extends across the globe and provides long-term enjoyment for both beginners and those who have mastered it. Most recorders for beginners are soprano recorders, and sheet music for the soprano recorder uses only the treble clef, or the top five lines on a composition of sheet music.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Determine the pitch of the notes. The note on the lowest line of the treble clef represents an E, and the space following it represents an F. The next line is a G. Notes ascend alphabetically from A to G.

  2. 2

    Play the corresponding fingering with whichever notes appear on the page.

  3. 3

    Determine the duration of the notes. Play a whole note for one full measure. A whole note looks like an oval: it has no vertical line, and it is empty in the middle.

    Play a half note for a half of a measure: this note’s body looks like a whole note, except it has a line extending vertically from its side.

    Play a crotchet for a quarter of a measure: this note’s body is filled in, and it has a line that extends vertically from the side.

    Play an eighth note for one eighth of a measure: this note looks exactly like a crotchet, except it has a flag at the top of its line.

    Play a sixteenth note for one sixteenth of a measure: this note looks like an eighth note, except it has two flags on its line.

  4. 4

    Read the time signature to determine the duration of each measure. For example, a 4/4 time signature means the duration of each measure is one. A whole note in 4/4 time requires that you hold the note for four counts. A whole note in 3/4 time requires that you hold the note for three counts.

Tips and warnings

  • If you need help recalling the finger positioning for certain notes, click the link in the "Resources" section for Recorder Fingerings.

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