How to Play the Recorder for Beginners

By Johanna Ehrmann ; Updated September 15, 2017
soprano recorder

The recorder, a wooden flute, is a good choice for a first instrument because it is possible to learn the fingering and start making music with little fuss. The most common recorders are the soprano and alto. The longer the recorder, the deeper its notes and the farther apart your fingers will be. It doesn't much matter which size you start with, because the skills are easily transferable.

In this article, you will learn how to position your fingers and how to play a scale.

Hold the recorder in your right hand. Place your left thumb over the hole on the back of the recorder.

Put your left index finger over the top hole on the front of recorder. Cover the second and third holes with your middle and index fingers.

With your right thumb on the back of the recorder, position your right index finger on the fourth hole. Cover the remaining holes with the fingers of your right hand.

Rest the mouthpiece on your lower lip. Close your mouth over the top of the mouthpiece. Your lips, not your teeth, should be touching the mouthpiece.

Put the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth, against your teeth. Blow into the recorder and allow the tip of your tongue to drop.

Play a scale. Blow with all holes covered. Then remove your fingers one at a time, starting with the little finger of your right hand. For the top note (the octave), cover only the second hole with the middle finger of your left hand. Keep your left thumb in place for the entire scale.

Try a chord: Play with all fingers in place. Then release the bottom 2 fingers and blow. Then release the rest of the right hand, and end with just the middle finger (and thumb) of the left hand.

About the Author

Johanna Ehrmann has been a freelance writer, editor and copy editor since 1991. She is the author of four nonfiction books for young readers on César Chávez, origami, dance and the Smithsonian, published by Macmillan/McGraw-Hill, and two fantasy stories, published by Houghton Mifflin. Ehrmann holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Brandeis University.