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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Memories of the recorder, instrument of torture

Very interesting segment on Chris Evans' show on Radio 2 yesterday. He was discussing that musical instrument of torture, the recorder, with expert Sue Klein (pictured). Now when Sue played a baroque recorder, it sounded sweet. But when Chris had a go, all the memories of squeaky out-of-tune recorders from school came flooding back.

Recorders were big at my primary school and I had a fine burgundy wood descant courtesy I think of Freeman's catalogue. But I was a renograde player and not part of the cliquey little recorder group, because I was too terrified of its leader, Mrs Gullett.

She was never (fortunately) my teacher but I had a few brushes with her because she supervised sewing and handwriting classes, neither of which are a strong suit of mine. I remember her being very scathing of my letter "G" which, instead of being big enough for a fly to walk in, "was big enough for an elephant".

Anyway, back to the recorder, and on one occasion my whole class had to play something in front of Mrs G. She listened sternly, her mouth mashing in that ferocious way she had, and her beady eyes fixed on me. I had created a new note, of which I was quite proud, three fingers from the left hand and then index finger on the right - and she must have clocked this because she said someone had been out of tune. Yes reader, it was me.

My self imposed exclusion from the recorder club meant I never got my hands on a treble or bass recorder, which I longed to do. I notice you can buy a new one at Amazon for a tenner so who knows, I may well treat myself.

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