Garklein Recorder Project: The Little Bridge (21)

Here is the latest video from the Garklein Recorder Project, song #21 from Mario Duchesnes Method for the Recorder, The Little Bridge. I am not familiar with this song and don’t know if it is a folk song. If it is, I couldn’t find anything on Google under that title.

This is the third of the ‘real songs’ in the book. The other numbered items were practice exercises to learn the first few notes on the recorder and so I’ve omitted them. The recorder used is my Windsong rosewood garklein recorder.

I’ve added a page on this blog specifically for the recorder and furulya. I’ve listed the videos currently available in the Garklein Recorder Project with links to the YouTube video, and will be adding links to blog posts for that particular song. (For a couple of future songs from the book which are German folk songs I recognize, I’m planning on putting up information on the songs including the lyrics in the original German.)

If you are a person interested in learning to play the garklein recorder (or the soprano or tenor recorder, which are also in the key of C), get yourself a recorder and a copy of the recorder method (check to make sure it’s the edition for soprano/tenor recorders, and that it’s Part 1 and not Part 2), watch the videos, and learn along. If you are a homeschooling mom, you can learn along with your kids as part of your music education. If you have any questions about the garklein recorder, the recorder in general, or the Garklein Recorder Project, just ask, I’ll be glad to answer.



R is for Recorder

IM001168Blogging from A to Z challenge

Well, I bet you saw that one coming….

I’ve always had trouble with the name ‘recorder’. At the time I first started playing, most people thought ‘tape recorder’ when they heard the word ‘recorder’. For years I called it a ‘flute-thing’ just so people knew I wasn’t talking about playing a tape recorder. In German it’s better because it’s called a Blockflöte and has a cool looking ‘ö’ in it.

I did another video in my Garklein Recorder project this morning. I’m getting better at playing with the video camera rolling— the last two, I only needed one take to get it. By contrast, the first few I had to do over and over because I was so nervous I messed up on tunes I knew VERY well.

You might notice that I’m not doing very well on the A to Z challenge. I guess I’m just not in a very bloggy stage of my life at the moment. But at least I got a couple done.



G is for Garklein

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

G is for ‘garklein’— German for ‘very small’, and the official name for the smallest size of recorder and the subject of my Garklein Recorder Project. I’m documenting my own self-challenge of working my way through a recorder instruction book playing the garklein recorder instead of the more common soprano recorder.

I’ve made several YouTube videos so far of myself playing songs from the instruction book (Duschenes Method for the Recorder, Pt 1). I find I enjoy doing the videos even though sometimes I have to do it over and over to get a usable version.

My hope is that other would-be recorder players working their way through the same book (on soprano or tenor recorders as well as the garklein) might find the videos of some use. I know when I was a child taking piano lessons I had a hard time sometimes figuring out what an unfamiliar song in my piano lesson book was supposed to sound like.

I also hope it will be inspiring. You don’t have to have great natural musical talent, nor do you have to be young, to learn a musical instrument and have fun with it. A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775c

Playing the Recorder Mozärtlich

The Garklein Recorder project

Today’s piece in the project is the theme from a piano sonata by Mozart. I really enjoy playing the occasional classical piece on the recorder— not as much as I like some of the more sprightly folk tunes, but still….

The recorder is a new one, a Windsong rosewood recorder, quite inexpensive for a wooden recorder and sounds very nice. It also has a very nice cloth case.

As this is the second video in the series, I’ve started a playlist on  Youtube to make it easier to find the videos in the series.  While the videos all will use the garklein recorder, the book is meant for players of the soprano and tenor recorders, and likely the videos will also be of use to students of those recorders.

[About the title: ‘zärtlich’ is the German word for ‘tenderly’, so it’s kind of a play on Mozart’s name.]

The Garklein Recorder Project

Recently I’ve learned to make simple YouTube videos and that gave me the idea to make a series of them documenting my work in learning to play the Garklein recorder. I’ve chosen one of my how-to-learn-recorder books, ‘Mario Duschenes Method for the Recorder’ and intend to record some of the tunes in it I am learning.

Besides the videos marking my own progress, I thought it would be useful for self-study students on the recorder to hear the less-familiar tunes used in the lessons. For the student who doesn’t read music very well yet, it might be a help to hear what the music is supposed to sound like.

For the first video of the series, I am playing my brand-new apricot wood recorder, made by a Hungarian craftsman and purchased on Ebay. I was actually disappointed when I first got the recorder, it sounded hoarse on almost all the notes. But every day I carefully played it for 10 minutes to break it in, and after a while it started sounding very good. To the point that I’m hoping to get another recorder made by the same craftsman in a different wood.

For anyone else who might like to start learning to play the Garklein recorder: the instruments are available on Ebay and For plastic recorders, the Aulos brand is highly recommended. My own plastic recorder is a Woodnote, and it seems to play very well. There is also a rosewood Garklein recorder available.

Be careful, when purchasing a recorder, to be sure that it has baroque fingering. That is the best and most widely used.

The Garklein recorder is a recorder in the key of C, as the soprano and tenor recorders are. (The sopranino, alto and bass recorders are in the key of F.)  The Garklein differs from other C recorders in having variant fingering for some of the sharps and flats, and a more limited range. Also, when my Woodnote Garklein arrived, I was dismayed that the fingering chart that came with it didn’t cover the Garklein! I had to get a fingering chart for Garklein on the internet.!a&Aus=ClGk

DuschenesThe book I’m using is available used from and Ebay. Be sure you are buying the soprano (descant) and tenor version, and that it is part one and not part two.

Anyway, welcome to my adventure of the Garklein Recorder Project. Enjoy the ride.

New Kitten Umberto

IM001173My cat Saipan recently had a blessed event. Not a planned blessed event— a barn cat sneaked into the house and could not be caught. I didn’t worry because I thought it was a GIRL barn cat. Then Saipan went into heat and I discovered otherwise.

Update 3-16-2018: Kitten Umberto is grown up and the mommy of several one-kitten litters. I haven’t neutered her because the lady cats who have 5 or six kittens are higher on  the priority list.

Saipan WAS nice enough to limit her reproductive activity to just ONE kitten. Unlike kitty Gwen last year, who had FIVE. I was out of the house the day the kitten was born, and I decided to name one of Saipan’s kittens Umberto, after the owner of a Mexican restaurant in town. Sadly for the kitten, it turned out to be a girl. The other girl kitties might laugh at her— if they didn’t have names like Ender, Other Myfanwy, and Consubstantial.

IM001175The first day, new mama Saipan stayed in the kitten box nearly all day. Afterwards, she took some more time out of the box, and Umberto cried. Until she discovered that a fold in the towel that lines the kitten box make an acceptable mama-substitute.


In other news, I ordered a new garklein recorder on Ebay. It’s hand made from Hungary. It’s made from apricot wood, which is unusual. The seller is hollaja.  I sent a message to ask the name of the maker and got the response that it was made by some old guy. I’m hoping to get a soprano recorder made by the old guy at some point. And maybe, possibly, a tenor recorder. What I really want is the kind without a metal key for the low C note— I have 2 second-hand wood recorders where the key does NOT play that low C note, so I’m rather attracted to the ones without the metal key. Of course I’ll have to practice stretching my fingers….

I have been Googling to get sheet music to play some of the tunes I want to play— for some tunes I come up with enough different versions that I can find one that’s workable for recorder. But it didn’t work for ‘Josette’s Theme’, an old tune from the TV show Dark Shadows. There IS a book of Dark Shadows sheet music you can buy second-hand on but the price ranges from one to two hundred dollars. If I had that kind of money, I’d get a cat or two neutered.

My New Garklein Recorder!

IM001172I’ve got a new addition to my collection of recorders— this one’s a garklein, the smallest size. Mine is a plastic Woodnote recorder I got from Ebay. (As you may guess, recorder playing is one of my Special Interests.)

Like the soprano and tenor recorders, the garklein is considered to be in the key of ‘C’, though it can play in other keys. I’m playing tunes I already know on the soprano & tenor recorders. The garklein is a bit more limited in range, though, but so far none of the songs I normally play is impossible to play on the garklein.

I made a YouTube video of me playing the garklein recorder— my first video with sound ever. Here it is:

The garklein is very shrill and some people say it makes dogs howl. My cats don’t mind it. Niki my old cat jumped in my lap twice while I was playing, and my 10 month old kitten Ender curled up on my shoulder while I was practicing.

The shrill sound can make practicing the garklein hard on the ears, so I wear earplugs. Enough sound comes through that I can hear it pretty well but my ears are protected. I suppose if I play for other people I should be in a large room or outdoors, or else pass out the earplugs— hey, they do that at my brother’s non-denominational church which has LOUD music.

The song I’m playing in the video is ‘Immaculate Mary’, also known as Lourdes Hymn. I first heard it in the movie ‘Song of Bernadette’. Here are the notes in case some other recorder person wants to play it. (It can be played on garklein, soprano or tenor recorder.)

Imacculate Mary

All My Blockflöte (Recorders)

IM001168It’s all my grandmother’s fault, really. My mom’s mom, Mitzi Langemann, who came over from Germany in the 1920’s, and taught her girls to appreciate all things German, a lesson my mom passed on to me.

One year when I was in my very early teens, we made our annual pilgrimage from Somewhere Out West to visit Oma Mitzi in Manitowoc, Wisconsin and Grandma Alice in Menominee, Michigan. And this year I brought along the newest of my prized possessions— a plastic recorder and a book on how to play it.

Oma must have heard me playing, and she gave me a wooden recorder that she’d brought over from Germany on one of her trips in the fifties. She said it came from Cousin Margret. Cousin Margret said it wasn’t hers. (Cousin Margret’s husband died very recently, so any prayers are appreciated.) Anyway, I got the recorder, and loved it even more than my plastic one, even though it was harder to play— a couple of the notes just didn’t sound quite right. It was years later that I discovered that my German recorder had German fingering, while my plastic recorder had Baroque/English fingering (also called Israeli fingering if you’re in Israel), and my instruction book presumed all recorders had Baroque fingering.

I played that recorder as my favorite for years, only replacing it in 2008. Here is a picture of it:

IM001171When I spent a year abroad in Germany, I managed to get a book of German folk songs for the soprano recorder. Noticing that the soprano recorder got no respect compared to the alto recorder, I bought an alto recorder— also with German fingering, now that I knew the difference. But I never got a book of instruction for the alto recorder, and mostly just played it as if it were a soprano recorder.

Now, in about 2008 I decided that my old German soprano recorder was getting too old and frail to be played much any more, so I decided to replace it. I did some research and decided that I’d really be better off with Baroque fingering, which was the original fingering for the recorder anyway. So I hied me away to Ebay and got me some more soprano recorders. The top picture on the page shows my entire collection of soprano recorders. Left to right they are:

1. My German recorder from Oma, German fingering.

2. Pearwood Mollenhauer 1042d Student, baroque fingering.

3. Selcol plastic recorder, does not play well, baroque fingering.

4. Dolmetch, plastic recorder from England, baroque fingering, nice.

5. Yamaha YRS-312B III, baroque fingering. A highly recommended plastic recorder.

6. Aulos 103J, plastic, baroque fingering, plays very well.

7. Aulos 703B, plastic, baroque fingering, Another highly recommended plastic recorder.

8. Peripole Angel Soprano Halo model PB6000, baroque fingering.

9. Concerti brand, made in Italy, German (or Italian?) fingering.

The recorder is available in many sizes in addition to soprano— they are: garklein, sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, bass, and great bass. All are chromatic instruments, but garklein, soprano, tenor and great bass are said to be in C, while the rest are in F. Because of this, I became interested in acquiring a tenor recorder during my 2008 recorder buying adventures— it uses the same fingerings I already know from the soprano. My final picture shows my recorder collection including my ‘big boys’:

IM001170The alto recorders are on the left. The first is Tudor brand plastic model with baroque fingering I got in an Ebay auction together with a tenor. The second is my German Moeck-brand alto of pearwood with German fingering.

My tenors are pictured below the sopranos. The top is an Aulos plastic tenor, baroque fingering, which I got with the Tudor alto. The Aulos plays very well though it requires more wind and is harder on the fingers. The lower tenor is a Mollenhauer of some dark wood, baroque fingering. It’s harder to play than the Aulos, plus the lowest note does not seem to play.

I also have a Heinrich brand wooden tenor recorder, but that one is somewhat of a problem and I didn’t unpack it to photograph it. It also has problems with the lowest note not playing, and is harder to play (fingers need to be wider apart), like the Mollenhauer rather than the Aulos plastic.

My personal experience on wood versus plastic recorders— on the sopranos, plastic recorders become hoarse-sounding after playing a while because of accumulating moisture. But on the tenor recorder, this does not seem to be a problem, so I’d recommend a good Aulos plastic tenor recorder (or Woodnote?) for anyone who wants to give the tenor recorder a try.

My recorder family is expecting some new arrivals soon— a garklein and a sopranino. I’ve also purchased a book— FINALLY— which gives instruction in the F-recorders (alto, sopranino).  I’m particularly looking forward to the garklein— it’s TINY— only six inches— and therefore difficult to play, especially if you have large fingers.

This is my take on the whole recorder experience: recorders don’t get any respect because so many people learn about them as a instrument for unmusical children to study in Europeanish elite schools. But they are fine little instruments— and economical. When I was looking at the fine wooden recorders of the good brands, at the level a musician would buy, they cost a few hundred dollars for the soprano and more for the larger— about the price of a cheap, crappy band instrument. And the best plastic soprano recorders— the kind real musicians might use as a practice instrument— are twenty to thirty dollars. Music for the poor, in other words.