How to Play Ode to Joy on a Recorder

By Lauren Vork
Play Ode to Joy on a Recorder

"Ode To Joy," is a common Beethoven melody that's simple enough to have become a popular favorite for beginning music students. Meanwhile, the soprano recorder is a favorite first instrument for learning. Playing this melody on recorder is a good first achievement for a beginning musician and can be accomplished with or without sheet music.

Determine what type of recorder you have and what key it's in. Most recorders that are sold to young music students will be soprano recorders in the key of C. This means that the bottom note (the note played when all the holes are covered) will be a C and the recorder will be about 14 inches long.

Learn where the notes are on your recorder, if you don't already know. Once you've determined what the bottom note on your recorder is (try matching the pitch on a tuner or piano keyboard if you didn't find out when you bought it), the rest of the notes are arranged an an ascending, alphabetical scale ranging from A to G. For instance, if the note C is played when all the holes are covered, the notes D, E, F, G, A, B, and high C will be played as each of the next holes is uncovered.

Learn the position of notes on a staff, if you don't already know. Soprano recorder music is written on the treble clef staff (that's the one with the symbol that looks a bit like this thing: "&") which tells you what notes to play based on which line or space on the staff the notehead is sitting on. The lines of the treble cleff staff are (from the bottom up) E, G, B, D, F, while the spaces are F, A, C, and E.

Download or purchase "Ode To Joy" sheet music for recorder (see links below) and read it in order to play.

Get a recording of "Ode To Joy" and listen to it. If you get the original version, it's the last movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony and the "Ode To Joy" melody is performed by a choir singing German-language text. Listen to this a few times to remember it (you probably won't be able to play your recorder along with it directly, as they'll be in different keys). Also, realize that the lowest note in this melody can't be played on recorder, so you'll have to play it up an octave.

Hold your recorder with all the holes covered. Play a scale up to the top of the instrument (uncover one hole at a time) to make sure you have the hang of basic sound production. Each hole must be fully sealed in order for the instrument to produce the sound it's supposed to.

Start on the third note from the bottom (the "E" if your recorder is pitched in "C").

Play by pitch name. In the key of C, the pitches for the "Ode to Joy Melody" are, in this order:

E,E, F,G, G, F, E, D C,C, D, E, E, D,D E,E, F, G, G, F, E, D C,C, D,E, D, C, C

D, D, E, C, D, E, F, E, C D, E, F, E, D, C, D, G

E,E, F, G, G, F, E, D C,C, D,E, D, C, C

Play the tune using scale degree numbers. These instructions will also work for recorders that are pitched in keys other than C. Start on the third from the bottom note. This note is number 3, with the numbers rising as the scale ascends and descending down two steps to the bottom "1."

3,3,4,5,5,4,3,2 1,1,2,3,3,2,2 3,3,4,5,5,4,3,2 1,1,2,3,2,1,1

2, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 1 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 5,

3,3,4,5,5,4,3,2 1,1,2,3,2,1,1

About the Author

Lauren Vork has been a writer for 20 years, writing both fiction and nonfiction. Her work has appeared in "The Lovelorn" online magazine and thecvstore.net. Vork holds a bachelor's degree in music performance from St. Olaf College.