Recorder Week 4: When Frivolity Ends and Discipline Begins


I got a friendly-but-necessary ass-kick recently, about the importance of rudimental technique (and that, frankly, I didn’t have any). Did I think that 30+ years of saxophone playing somehow allowed me to go tearing through Telemann’s recorder sonatas before engaging in rudimental practice? Maybe so, but after only a few days of disciplined work (yes, actually “practicing” for reals for the first time…..) I started to realize that until this point, I actually was (however earnestly) only dabbling. I hugely ate crow, and I’m a vegetarian, so it was extra icky.

As a college music teacher, I bemoan this ALL THE TIME. Students often want to, for example, compose before they’ve studied counterpoint. Jazz players often want to play amazing improvisations before they’ve studied patterns or sound conception. And so — UGH — I realized I now embodied that impetuousness. They are, of course, called “foundations” for a reason, and we all need them to support any new endeavor. Is it still amazingly fun? YOU BET. Is there an ass-load of work ahead? Also yes. Crow eaten, humble pie served.

[Note: A fun by-product of practicing long-tones over a drone occurred on my discovery that recorder — when actually played in tune — creates amazing resultant overtones in your ear. No saxophoning ever created an equivalent to this miniature piece of acoustical magic.]

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