Saturday, 13 November 2010

Descant recorders - health scare

It's not often my friend Hugh and I meet young girls who tell us we're gorgeous. And if you saw us you would instantly know why. So when I went with Hugh and a couple of others to demonstrate musical instruments on a travellers' site last week I had a pleasant surprise. The boost to my self esteem was short lived, however, as the word used was actually 'gadjos' (pronounced gorgeous). Gadjo means non-gypsy, literally 'outsider'. I found the outsider tag mildly amusing as I live inside a house whereas travellers...

Anyway, when we arrived at a small Portakabin on the site we found a box of percussion had been provided by a school teacher. This contained no fewer than three descant recorders. Some twenty years ago I had the misfortune to teach recorder to a six-year-old boy who took great pleasure in pointing the thing in my face and blowing as loudly as he could for half an hour. This only lasted for two lessons. A third lesson and I'm sure I would have done something I would still be regretting at Her Majesty's pleasure.

My ears are less sensitive after two decades of teaching woodwind but a recorder in the wrong hands still feels like someone drawing on my eardrums with a marker pen. Following this workshop my ears rang the way they used to after a Hawkwind gig. You should know, if you don't already, that if you subject your ears to noise that leaves them ringing you have caused them permanent damage. So the moral is, never give a recorder to a child unless you really know what you expect him or her to do with it. Never casually include one, never mind three, in a box of percussion instruments. In fact, if I ruled the world I would place recorders in the same category as alcohol and cigarettes with hefty fines for anyone supplying them to minors.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't know the thing about ringing ears in fact, I probably should have done. Thank you.

    Personally, I like the sound of a well-played recorder, (though I sympathise greatly with your problem with badly-played ones) You can also use a descant recorder to hit a drum with, of course.

    Although I appreciate the logic of modern flutes having to be loud enough to play in an orchestra (with dynamics too), I find it a bit odd that we have reduced both the baroque flute and recorder to a side- rĂ´le, and instead devote considerable effort in trying to make the modern flute sound as good as them, without success (in my view)