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how to play the Recorder

Learn how to have fun playing the Recorder

I’m super pleased you have bought your recorder – but what’s next? Finding out how to play the recorder would be a good start… This section of our ‘Beginner’s Guide To Learning the Recorder’ will start you off in the right route.

How To Play The Recorder

Recorder Basics:

  • Blow through the mouthpiece or to make a sound
  • Cover the holes with your fingers and thumb – left hand above right hand
  • Do not bite the recorder or allow it to touch your teeth – support it with your lips only

How To Assemble and Look After My Recorder:

How To Play The Recorder

Recorders usually come in three separate parts; the top joint with the mouthpiece, the body of the recorder and the bottom joint which has a slight bell shape. Gently twist these three parts together and away you go!

After playing your recorder clean it by using the cleaning stick and a handkerchief, piece of cloth or even a sock wrapped around it to get rid of any moisture.


Like all wind instruments, you make a sound on the recorder by using your breath. It is important to take relaxed, deep breaths by dropping your jaw and breathing into the bottom of your lungs. You can try this without a recorder first if you like!

Making A Sound

It is important to blow gently to get a beautiful mellow sound on the recorder – if you blow too hard then you will get a harsh sound or it might squeak! Think about blowing your air in a constant, even stream over a long note. Try without any fingers covering the holes first. 

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How To Play Different Notes On Your Recorder

Now you’ve made a sound it’s time to learn some different notes. Most people start with the note B

How To Play The Recorder

Left hand:

Thumb covers the hole at the back of the recorder

The first finger covers the hole closest to your mouthpiece at the front of the recorder.

Right Hand:

Thumb rests at the back of the recorder (not on a key)

Once you’ve got the hang of B you can try some other notes. You can gradually cover more holes to play down to a low C. In general, the more fingers you put down, the lower the note should sound. As you add more fingers you will have to blow a little more as your air has to travel further down the recorder. However, don’t blow too hard or the note might end up too high.

Use this fingering chart to help you play different notes.

How To Play The Recorder - Fingering Chart

Congratulations you can now play 10 different notes on the recorder!

Take your time to get comfortable with these finger combinations as these are the basis of many other notes on the recorder. Playing long notes is a great idea to improve your sound quality and breath control. Remember to keep your shoulders relaxed.

Higher Notes On The Recorder

Playing notes above a D requires a new technique called Pinching the Thumb. Use the tip of your thumb to cover around 2/3rds of the hole and the note should become much higher in pitch. You may also need to blow a little more air to reach these higher notes.

The good news is that you can keep all your other fingers the same for lots of these new high notes!

Use this fingering chart to learn how to play all the low, middle and high register notes on the recorder.

How To Play The Recorder

How To Play the Recorder - Summary

By now, you should be able to:

– know the different parts of the recorder. 

– breath properly when playing the recorder 

– start playing notes on the recorder 

Now it’s time to improve your technique…

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