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How to play simple songs on the recorder

Updated April 17, 2017

The first instrument students learn to play is usually the recorder. The recorder is part of the woodwind family. It’s inexpensive, easy to find and anyone can learn to play in a short time. Simple songs can be learnt in less than half an hour. The opportunity to play the recorder and read music has never been easier.

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  1. Hold the recorder in front of you with your left hand. Put your thumb on the back hole and left index finger over first top hole. Use your right hand to balance the back of the instrument. Place the mouthpiece between your lips and exhale smoothly and evenly. This produces the B note.

  2. Add your left middle finger to cover second hole. Gently blow. This is the A note.

  3. With your left index finger still over first top hole and left middle finger covering the second hole, place your ring finger on third hole down. Gently blow. You’ve formed the G note. Try all three keys in succession.

  4. You are ready to play your first song,"Three Blind Mice." Follow the three keys you have just learnt. Take breaths between each segment: B, A, G, breathe. B, A, G, breathe. G, G, G, G, breathe. A, A, A, A, breathe. B, A, G.

  5. Try something more challenging. Play "Mary Had a Little Lamb" following the same fingering instructions: B, A, G, A, breathe. B, B, B, breathe. A, A, A, breathe. B, B, B, breathe. B, A, G, A, breathe. B, B, B, B, breathe. A, A, B, A, breathe, G. Hold the G for a count of four.

  6. Now play "Merrily We Roll Along." B, A, G, A, breathe. B, B, B, breathe. A, A, A, breathe. B, B, B, breathe. B, A, G, A, breathe. B, B, B, breathe. A, A, B, A, breathe. G-G-G-G. Hold the last G for a count of four.

  7. Tip

    As notes and finger combinations become more familiar, try more difficult tunes. Music can be found online, in bookstores and in libraries. When you're finished playing, clean the recorder inside and out with a fine cloth such as one to clean glasses to remove moisture. This keeps the instrument in top condition.

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Things You'll Need

  • Recorder (plastic, wood or ivory)
  • Recorder fingering chart
  • Music for recorder

About the Author

Dawn Renée Levesque has been a writer for over 30 years. Her travel and fashion photographs have been exhibited in Europe and the United States. As a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Levesque is the author of "Women Who Walk With the Sky" and co-author of "Wisdom of Bear." She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography.

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