Playing the Recorder – The Foundation – Breathing, Support, and Posture

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 27,789
    Professional recorder player and teacher Vicki Boeckman discusses proper breathing and support for the recorder.

    Vicki Boeckman: Hi! I am Vicki Boeckman with the American Recorder Society and we are talking about how to play the Recorder. Today I will go over breathing, and support and posture while sitting and standing.

    The Recorder is a member of the wind instrument family so it's really essential that you learn to breathe properly and how to support your tone. This is the foundation upon which all else is built.

    Let's start without the instrument. First of all I am going to have you lie down on the floor in a semi-supine position, find a few paperback books that you are going to put under your head, plus a larger book that you will put on your stomach in just a few minutes. If you are not able to get up and down from the floor without pain or discomfort please wait and join me for the next group of instructions.

    Choose a carpeted area or you can use a throw rug or yoga mat to lie on. Lie down on your back, rest your head on the books so that your neck is completely free of tension. So this height will be different for everyone, then bend your legs so that your knees point upwards towards the ceiling and rest your hands on your stomach.

    Let your body settle into this position for a few minutes adjusting slightly if you need to. Inhale and exhale slowly through your nose naturally and focus on the movement of your hands on your stomach. Then put the large book on your stomach and notice how it moves up and down with your breath.

    Inhale fully, pick a spot on the ceiling and aim your air at that spot as if you are blowing through a straw, try to keep the book up as long as you can and notice the slight tension in your stomach muscles as you do this. Do this several times, this will train your support muscles, then when you are ready to get up, roll over on to your side and get up carefully using all force.

    The next exercise will be sitting in a chair, find a chair without arms or a stool that is right for your height. So spread your legs and then I am going to have you lean forward all the way and have your head completely dangling in between your legs and just let your arms dangle loosely at your sides. So make sure that your neck is very, very free and your head just kind of dangles, great.

    We don't want any tension in the neck or in the jaw. So take your arms and I am going to put them so that you are holding your sides and your lower back and focus on the movement of your hands, rise up slowly while breathing, so keeping your neck very free and then kind of notice the changes. Now that you are sitting if you can still feel those muscles moving in the same way.

    And then kind of position yourself in the chair again so that you feel as though you allow your sitting bones to relax into the chair you have a nice balance between your feet your legs and your bottoms. This would be the ideal position for sitting while playing music.

    You want to have the recorder come up to you, that's great, and then just kind put it in, that's wonderful, it's really important to think about your body position and your use while you are playing the recorder because we don't want any tension or any unnatural movements.

    Now that you are in the chair you want a nice balance between your legs and your feet and your sitting bones. So hold your hand out in about a foot away from your face, choose a point on your hand and just aim for it and just continue that a couple of times.

    So it's really important to remember that when you inhale we need your support muscles to relax and then when you exhale as you are blowing you want those support muscles to tense and you are going to feel this little push right around your naval area below your naval and then when you don't have anymore air, release those muscle and then do it again.

    So get yourself a piece of toilet paper and hold it out in front of your face, imagine that there is a dot on it and you want to blow towards that dot and keep your breath steady so you want to keep the toilet paper out in the same angle throughout your whole exhale. Try that a few times and now just kind imagine that you are a dog and you have been out running, hang your tongue out and pant like a dog and notice the muscles that you use.

    And then we are going to make too-too train sounds, activating those lower stomach muscles for the support when you say the too, and again remembering to release the muscles every time you inhale. And then pretend that you are a hissing snake, so very softly you just want to say Ss and the reason that we do this is to notice the pressure that sort of builds up and then imagine that you are whispering Fs, because when you say the letter F your throat will actually be open in the way that it resembles recorder playing. This is kind of how it will feel inside your mouth.

    These tips will help you with the basics of the foundation of how to play the Recorder using your support muscles.

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