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The Recorder from Zero: A Method for Beginners on Soprano Recorder, Vol. 1 Paperback – December, 2001
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A well-conceived concept and a thorough introduction to playing the soprano recorder. -- Adam Dopadlik, The Recorder Magazine, Spring 2002
This book is for its musical content alone of great value to recorder teachers and beginning players. -- Martha Bixler, The American Recorder, May 2002
About the Author
Charles Fischer was a professional recorder teacher and performer for many years in Los Angeles. He studied recorder with Marleen Montgomery at the Longy School of Music in Boston, and with Walter van Hauwe in Amsterdam. He is currently a member of the American Recorder Society and is on the editorial board of the Recorder Education Journal.
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As a method book, it is pedagogically useless unless accompanied by lessons: What little instruction is included, near the frontispiece, is vague to the point of nonexistence; further, it would have been stimulating--considering the nature of the collection--to have some brief biographical and historical information about the pieces, especially considering that several composers (Praetorius, Gervaise, etc.) are featured several times. This lack of text, pedagogical or otherwise, makes the book feel unfinished.
Further, there are no long pieces included in the book, leaving the beginner without much of a sense of repertoire. The longest pieces offered are motets which take about forty seconds to play in allegro tempo, and only three or four in that category--the rest are extremely brief.
In a word, then, the text feels incomplete. I will not be buying volume 2.
1) The book is based on music from the Medieval and Renaissance eras. There are a few folk songs and the like which sound familiar, but for the most part the music is ancient.
2) There is no attempt to teach all the notes on the recorder quickly, rather the notes are introduced slowly, when they are needed to play a particular piece. Notes that are never used in the music are never introduced.
3) While notes may be introduced slowly, complex rhythms are introduced earlier than they are in most other methods. This works fine for me.
4) There is no attempt to introduce every single key and obscure fingering that one can use on the recorder. The method sticks to the main keys which are most natural to the recorder. This is authentic for the music that the method is centered on. Rather than trying to introduce distant (unnatural?) keys, the author tries to get students to think in terms of "modes," the ancient musical system used in medieval times. I think this is a very cool way to introduce beginners to musical theory.
5) If you have a teacher to teach you this method, you are very much in luck. The method is organized mostly as duets and rounds. If your teacher can play the more complex part, you can play beautiful music from the first day. If you play by yourself mostly, it would really be good to get someone to play the other parts occasionally, so you can hear how good you sound.
6)While most of the pieces are quite short, many of them fit together nicely into "suites." I usually play continuously for 30 minutes or so every day, hesitating only to turn a page.
I've already bought volume 2.
After you finish this method, you will be ready to quit your job, get into your time machine, and head back to 12th century Europe. Play near where crowds gather and maybe you'll get enough coin to buy food and lodging.
The books were a great success - it was a pleasure to work through the lessons with her and now she eagerly plays everything she can in both books.
The books themselves are beautifully printed and easy to read. They are mostly just the music with little or no text interspersed among the pieces. This means that a beginner will need some additional help with some of the basics - holding the recorder, breathing, basic fingering, etc. There are plenty of method books that cover those details, but no other books I know of give you so much interesting music. It's easy for beginners to get the feel for what early music and recorder playing is really like.
I strongly recommend these books. If you are an adult beginner with access to a teacher then I suggest you look for volume 1 for the alto recorder, if and when it is available. Altos are easier and more fun to play than soprano recorders if your hands are bigger than an 11-year old's.