Episode 50: exercises inspired by MEAN TWEETS

Episode 50: exercises inspired by MEAN TWEETS


This is @mariayerza and this is @hgroenleer!
Together we are #ConsortCounsellors! You may be familiar with the American talk show
“Jimmy Kimmel Live!” We watch it sometimes and there is a specific segment which we find fascinating: “Celebrities read mean tweets” “I’m alright with the president wearing jeans.
I’m not alright with the president wearing THOSE jeans.” Inspired by this idea we decided to look at mean tweets
about the recorder… and we found a lot of them! @IsThisAngles writes: “If you think anything other than the recorder
is the worst instrument ever, you’re lying.” We’ve had a good laugh reading mean tweets about the recorder and we have realised that it is possible
to take inspiration out of some of them. Therefore, today we present FIVE tips and exercises inspired by mean tweets. @SoCalScriptShop writes: “My next-door neighbor got a recorder
and is trying to play ‘Happy Birthday’ by ear. The notes for ‘To You’ have been eluding him for about five minutes. I may murder him!” Well, it’s true that playing by ear
is a skill that requires some practice. The good news is that we are constantly
singing by ear, since we are kids! That is how we can sing ‘Happy Birthday’
although we may not be able to read it, and we also hear if our neighbour is playing the right note or not. Here are a couple of short exercises
to develop playing by ear on the recorder. This is an exercise for a group. The larger the group, the more fun! One player chooses any two notes he/she likes to play
and plays them. The person next to him or her sings these notes. Special price if he or she can sing a song
that starts with the same interval! Of course you can also try this exercise alone. Try also the opposite: sing two notes of your choice. Your neighbour can play these notes. And she gets an extra prize if she can play a melody
that starts with the same interval. Then, there is the very simple exercise called “the train”. We make a row, so we just see
the back of the person in front of us. The person in the back plays a short series of notes. If this is the first time you do the exercise,
maybe just 2-3 notes is enough. If you’re very advanced, you can add more notes. All the players will repeat the series one by one, but they cannot see the fingers of the previous player,
so they have to do it by ear. Depending on your level and your experience
you can also agree on some helpful tips. For example: “we are going to start on the note C”. Or: “we are only going to use notes
that are part of the C major scale.” If you’re very advanced you may give yourselves
total freedom: it’s your choice! @TOther_Simon writes:
“Splendid! My son’s got a recorder. It’s surprisingly hard to make it sound
anything other than awful.” Actually, we couldn’t agree more! It’s really hard to make the recorder
sound beautiful over the whole range. One reason for this is that the recorder
doesn’t have an embouchure or a reed to regulate how much air goes into the instrument. The recorder reacts immediately to any changes
in the pressure of the air stream. Very easily we go too far, and the sound becomes forced, or we don’t go far enough and it sounds weak and poor. To find your very best recorder sound it is a good idea
to explore the boundaries between awful and beautiful. One by one, play a note in the middle register,
for example the C. Start from absolutely nothing and then
increase the air pressure as slowly as you can. At first the sound will be awful and weak.
At some point it will sound beautiful, and then, when you go too far,
it sounds forced and again awful. Now try the same again, a little faster,
so that you have time, once you’ve reached the awful, really forced sound,
to come back to the middle, to your most beautiful sound
and stay there as long as possible. Can you remember now how it felt
when you played the most beautiful sound? Can you hear it in your mind? Let’s now try
to just hit it, right from the first moment. These exercises we just did, you can do alone but you can also do them together! Player 1 starts, again with a very low air pressure,
until he or she reaches the nicest core of the C. If that is a nice sound, the next player does the same, so we also develop a little ear for
tuning and mixing. Another exercise that can be helpful
to find the beautiful center of the sound as an ensemble is that when you play a piece, you start playing very soft, you gradually grow to a very forced and ugly sound
and then, together you come to the middle and find the place where you’d
really like to stay for the rest of the piece. All these exercises prove that sounding awful
is the way to sounding beautiful! And: practice makes perfect. You and your neighbours
just need a little bit of patience… @Leann_Muller writes: “To whoever is repeatedly playing scales
on a recorder in my building: I deeply appreciate your energy and spirit,
but you really could have better timing.” Indeed, scales and arpeggios
are the instrumentalists’ daily bread. It’s also true that they are possibly
not the most entertaining music for your neighbours… We’ve all heard it’s a good idea
to practice scales applying regular rhythmical patterns… …but we know a way to practice your scales
that may be more fun than this. We apply the rhythm of a song we know
to our F major scale. When we were teenagers, this song was just out: @ekreilly writes: “The neighbor has been playing the recorder
for the last two hours, so I am currently praying for death.” Two hours of practice is a long time…
how can you ever survive? However, if you want to become a professional musician
or if you are a very keen amateur, of course you need to practice a lot! On the other hand it’s true that
long practice sessions without a clear goal maybe don’t take us very far and may feel frustrating. Here is a quick & tiny guide to efficient practice! It is always better to have short and regular
practice sessions than sporadic, very long ones. Include a little warm-up in your practice routine. Make sure that this warm-up is varied enough
so that it never becomes boring. Set two or three goals for the rehearsal and make sure you divide the time well
so that you can spend enough time on all of them. Take notes! You would be surprised about
how many things we think we are going to remember… and then we don’t. Combine ‘detailed practice’ – for example,
focusing on a very short and difficult passage, with ‘performance practice’:
playing the whole piece through! Remember that practicing is not only playing. Looking at the score, analysing, listening to recordings,
reading about the context… All you do helps your performance! If you feel stuck, lose your concentration
or feel frustration coming up… Stop! Have a little break, change your activity
and come back to it later. If your practice involves looping
the same passage over and over again, leave enough time in between repeats to think
and realise what can you improve next time. Your neighbours will be grateful! @verronicaq writes: “If there’s music in hell
I’m pretty sure it’s all from a recorder.” See you there, Veronica! Probably, behind the statement there is
some ‘trauma’ with the recorder in school, in school combined with ignorance of
what this instrument is actually capable of producing… If there’s any inspiration to be taken from this tweet,
it is that there’s always something left to learn! So, we would like to encourage you to learn
something new about the recorder every day, so that we stay as open-minded as we can! Check out some different kinds
of contemporary music, some improvisation, maybe some folk music, extended techniques,
beatboxing, historical performance and research, new models of recorder…
Listen to it but also, maybe try it out yourself, if you have never done so.
Get out of your comfort zone! Out! There is a lot of positive
recorder content on Twitter, of course! In the video description we have collected
a few Twitter accounts for recorder players. As usual we would love to get your suggestions as well,
for accounts that we can follow: recorder players, recorder-related
or music-related accounts with nice information… Leave them in the comments! And you can
follow us too, of course! Bye bye, see you next week! If you like our stuff,
don’t forget to subscribe to our channel so that you never miss any video of the Consort Counsellors!

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

10 Comments

  1. Very funny!. I still remember that grey cupboard with those grey drawers in the back of the classroom with 25 grubby plastic recorders in it, that we had to use in primary school. Thats a great way to make people hate this instrument.

    With a little effort one can easily get past that and play so much better than a class of uninspired kids.

    I wish i could step back in time and make different choices, i’ld love to be a professional recorder player….

  2. Desempolvando mis métodos:
    Sin duda en las flautas de pico,el ejecutante no alcanza a obtener una acción eficaz sobre el instrumento,es decir,no le es dado hacerlo expresivo,mientras que en las flautas travesera esta expresión se alcanza en alto grado.Por esta causa, las flautas de pico no han pasado de su Primitivo carácter de instrumentos populares o pstoriles y las flautas travesera han llegado a ser el perfeccionado e importante instrumento de viento que todos conocemos.
    José Franco Ribate: método elemental de flauta. MADRID 1980.
    Esto no me impidió,aunque aficionado,a tocar la flauta de pico.

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