Instrumental lessons: £14 for 30 minutes / £26 for 60 minutes are open for booking on
- recorder and Irish tin whistle from age 6 years onwards; Kodály musicianship classes are highly recommended prior and during instrumental studies; see below why.
- for mini-bassoon lessons from 9 years onwards, bassoon lessons whenever one is physically ready to start. Kodály musicianship classes and previous recorder lessons including studies on the bass recorder are highly recommended prior to bassoon lessons.
Recorder and tin whistle
Renaissance Recorder Quartet with Tin whistle (High D whistle) players
2 descants, 1 treble and 1 bass recorder
and tin whistles of various sizes belong to the family of fipple flutes: straight-held flutes blown through a mouthpiece called the fipple. There are several reasons why recorder and tin whistle lessons are so highly recommended at Liverpool Kodály School:
- Recorders and tin whistles the very instruments (after our own voice) that have the closest cross-curricular links with 5-8-year-old children’s Kodály musicianship lessons, therefore they help each child to develop a rock-solid musical foundation, which is needed to learn any musical instrument. (Here I mean fipple flute lessons with Kodály musicianship teaching; not the squeaky recorder lessons without Kodály musicianship teaching). These principles also apply when teaching older children or adults, since teachers have the flexibility to select instruments to match the size of their pupils’ hands, and to match their pupils’ abilities by selecting musical repertoire of the relevant level.
- Recorders and tin whistles are excellent instruments to master the foundations of woodwind instrumental playing:
- breathing technique,
- fingering that can be used practically on any woodwind instruments + on one brass instrument:
- the fingering of Descant (and Tenor and Garklein) recorders and high/low D whistles has a lot in common with the fingering of the Saxophone, the flute or the oboe and their related early and folk instrumental versions (Renaissance shawm, ocarinas, gemshorn, other six hole whistles in the key of D
- the fingering of Treble, Sopranino and Bass recorder and high and low G whistle has a lot in common with the fingering of the clarinet and the bassoon and their related precursors (chalumeau, curtal or dulcian, rackett),
- Furthermore, there are free reed instruments such as the Chinese hulusi, all kinds of bagpipes, the Renaissance crumhorn which has a fingering similar to recorders, and
- there is a medieval brass instrument called the cornett which has a fingering rather similar to 6-hole whistles;
- and many other features related to expressive woodwind playing.
- They are excellent instruments to encourage pupils’ practice since
- a wide range of musical styles, including classical, folk or jazz for example can be practised on these instruments (and our teachers exposes them to as many as possible), which also connects us to our past, presence and future and to many countries across the world.
- pupils can join different ensembles; giving them one more extra reason to practice.
- These instruments have high quality student models that are
- all tuneable (important for chamber / ensemble music),
- have clear intonation,
- have a nice quality of sound throughout their full range,
- have no keys and therefore are less likely to be damaged when not properly handled by pupils,
- have full plastic versions, therefore are easy to clean (especially useful in whole class instrumental teaching)
- are affordable for everyone. The cost of
- Soprano and Sopranino size instruments ranges between £10 and £20: Aulos 507 B-E Sopranino Recorder, Aulos 205a and 503B Descant Recorders, Dixon High D whistles (Traditional Brass with polymer fipple or all polymer)
- Alto size instruments are available between £35 and £45: Aulos 309 Treble recorder, Dixon Alto (Low) G and Low A whistles with polymer fipple and brass body (N.B. Polymer Alto whistles by Dixon are not recommended due to intonation issues).
- Fipple flutes are easy to sound: “Just pop your recorder or whistle in your mouth and blow it”- you can play them with a nice quality of sound early on, therefore fipple flutes can be a great success, since you do not get frustrated about how to make or maintain a nice sound on your instrument. This fact alone can actually give you a kick-start to progress quickly on your instrument.
- Fipple flutes come in different sizes. This means that even a five to six-year-old child can even start learning them.
- Recorders are very special for beginners: a teacher can always give a child (or an adult) an instrument that plays the easiest songs and tunes in the absolute pitch range that matches their vocal range; therefore it is easier to link instrumental practice with musicianship practice.
- The High D whistle is very special for Early Years Music Teachers, since with the easiest fingering one can play the very notes that average 4-year-old children can sing (D to B). For this reason I think a good quality tuneable high D whistle (such as a model by Dixon) deserves to be called as the Kodály-whistle.
- 6-hole whistles in general are a good example to demonstrate cultural diversity. While in vocal music the pentatonic scale plays a rather important role in many nations’s folk music tradition, when it comes to fipple flutes and transverse flutes, 6-hole whistles and flutes also have an important role: the tin whistle (made of metal, polymer or a combination of these) and the Irish flute are common in the UK and Ireland, wooden shepherd whistles and flutes are common in Hungary and Middle-East Europe, other type of 6-hole wooden flutes and whistles are used by native Americans, bamboo whistles and flutes are common in India (Bansuri) and China, (and plastic 6-hole whistles can be made at home from water-pipes; always a nice challenge for those who like DIY). This means that children from our cultural diversity may discover a link towards their own culture through 6-hole whistle playing.
Bassoon and Tenoroon (Mini-Bassoon) players of the Fagottino Symposium in Budapest in 2012
The bassoon is the largest member of the double reed family, and is the largest woodwind instrument of the symphony orchestra. It has been present in the European music culture since the Renaissance age as the Dulcian/ Curtal, made of one woodblock, and later instrument makers made it possible to take the instrument apart to pieces (hence the name faggot still present in the name of the bassoon as Fagott/Fagot/Fagotto throughout Europe). Nowadays there are two modern type of bassoons which are equally good and special for their features called German and French bassoon (basson), and the German bassoon seems to be more prevalent. The bassoon’s big brother, the Contrabassoon (used in the Beauty and the Beast for example) which sounds an octave lower is also a member of the symphony orchestra.
Nowadays it is a lot easier for children to start to learn the bassoon. This is due to the arrival of the newest members of the bassoon family, which have lighter weight and the keys and the holes can be reached for an average 7-year-old child’s hand. Instrument maker Guntram Wolf managed to create smaller size bassoons that can produce a stable tone, and can be fingered and learned as playing a normal-size bassoon, with the same kind of bassoon-reed. These are called the Tenoroons or Fagottini (plural, fagottino – singular): the Tenoroon in C (German Oktavfagott, which is actually a half size or Alto bassoon) sounding an octave higher, and two Tenor bassoons, in G (Quintfagott, a fifth higher) and in F (Quartfagott, a fourth higher than the normal bassoon).
Bassoon Pupils of Liverpool Kodály School are recommended to have musicianship and recorder studies beforehand, including learning to play the Bass Recorder which has very similar fingering to the bassoon. From age 9 years onwards they can start playing the Tenoroon in F, after which they can go on to play the full size bassoon whenever they will be ready.
Similarly to the Renaissance Dulcians (and many other woodwind instruments) which came in many sizes, an and mini-bassoon (Tenoroon in F, called as Quartfagott in German) is offered for children from age 8 years onwards. The bassoon is a fabulous woodwind instrument. It can play a very wide range of notes: 3 and a half octaves, and it has various roles and can play numerous different characters. The bassoon plays in most orchestras, and while playing lots of solos, also provides the foundation/ the bass for many chamber groups. Being exposed to playing so many different roles, bassoonist pupils will develop a deeper understanding of musical performance and analysis.
The mini-bassoon or tenoroon in F is a transposing bassoon of a smaller size . Therefore pupils learning the Tenoroon will benefit of learning a small bassoon where the finger holes and keys easier to reach, and the instrument is easier to hold due to its smallest weight. The Tenoroon in F sounds four notes higher than the bassoon. Music for the Tenoroon in F is notated as if it was written for the big bassoon, therefore it is guaranteed that the fingering will be the same on a mini-bassoon and a bassoon, making it easy for pupils to transfer between instruments. Actually the same bassoon reed is used for both the tenoroon and the bassoon, which also makes it easy to transfer between them.
Bassoonist pupils will always be engaged to play bass/ bassoon parts in orchestras, ensembles or in woodwind instrumental summer camps organised by the music school or elsewhere. Nowadays we live the renaissance of early musical instruments, and advanced pupils will have the opportunity to try early instruments (Dulcians, Baroque and Classical Bassoons). Regardless whether learning period instruments or the modern bassoon, pupils will be encouraged to learn to perform with a stylistic awareness in each styles.
Before starting to play the bassoon, it is preferred for each child to start bassoon playing with a good musical foundation with singing, and preferably with recorders, too. Though it is not necessary, it is a further advantage to learn to play the piano or another instrument that reads in the bass clef, since then a child is also familiar reading notes in the bass clef. Recorder pupils will have the opportunity to try to play the bass recorder and will be encouraged to learn to read notes in bass clef when playing bass or practising on the Treble recorder. Bass recorder players will also benefit from the fun of being able to join lots of chamber music/ ensemble activities in the music school and during the summer camp.
Bassoon reeds can be bought from the teacher, and all opportunities will be given to master to learn to adjust your bassoon reeds. Bassoon reeds making workshops will be organised for those interested to make their own bassoon reeds.