Recorder Improvisation and Technique



By Isabel McNeill Carley

Book I:

A beginner’s primer and foundational guide to playing the soprano recorder. Eleven tightly integrated lessons introduce the student to the recorder repertoire and technique in short exercises that partner the teacher with the student. The emphasis is on a collaborative process that develops musical and technical skills by actually making music. From the beginning, there are songs for the student to play, improvisations to nurture the musical imagination, and ensemble materials to deliver the excitement of rhythmic layering and patterning.

This fourth edition teacher and student book retains the contents of the third edition with the addition of expanded reference and resource materials.

Book II:

Like Book One, Book Two is designed to parallel and supplement the basic material in the Orff Schulwerk publications, and to spell out in detail how the sequence can best be applied to learning and teaching the recorder.

Book Two concentrates on the alto recorder, with improvisations, exercises, and appropriate repertoire. Part I begins with lessons transferring pentatonic fingering patterns to the alto instrument until the notation is thoroughly familiar. Then the major scales in F, C, G and Bb are elucidated by “filling in the holes” in the familiar pentatonic scales, through improvisation, exercises and repertoire in hexatonic and diatonic versions.

Part II introduces the other diatonic modes in a similar fashion, concluding with shifting chord techniques and examples of paraphony – parallel melodic progressions using fourths and fifths – treated in historical and improvisatory contexts.

Book III:

Book Three is for the student already confident playing both C and F recorders. These lessons focus in detail on how the Orff-Schulwerk Volumes’ basic sequence can be successfully applied to recorder teaching and playing. Compositional forms are explored with improvised materials using major, modal, and minor scales as well as dominant and subdominant bass-lines, improvised melodies, ornamentation, paraphony, descants, and other enhancements. A final chapter expands on improvisation for movement, free solo improvisation, and various kinds of group improvisation.

Additional information


Book 1, Book 2, Book 3


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