Please obtain a recorder, and then return to this page in the book to continue the Mission. If there is a musical instrument store anywhere in your area, please go there and purchase a soprano recorder. Yamaha makes a great little recorder, and in fact, Yamaha’s Soprano comes in a few fun colors like royal blue and fuchsia. This recorder should not cost more than about $10.00 USD. If it does, you might want to find an online source for it (http://amazon.com ($7.49 USD), or http://musiciansfriend.com ($4.99 USD).
Once you have the recorder, we will look at how to play one. You do not need to play very long to realize you can make music relatively simply. Most recorders come with a fingering chart. This one is likely no exception. Even if the notes themselves make no sense to you, please note that the bottom note, with all of the fingers on all of the holes, is a C for a soprano recorder.
The way a recorder is held, the mouthpiece (the head with the part that looks like a whistle toward one end) is placed in the mouth so the whistle part faces front, and sits gently between the lips so the tongue can easily reach the slit hole at the tip of the mouthpiece. The left hand covers the thumb closure (a single hole), which you will notice is on the back of the body of the recorder, and then your index, middle, and ring fingers cover the top three holes closest to the mouthpiece. You will want to be sure your fingers are covering the entire hole. The other hand, your right hand, will hold the bottom part of the recorder, and your fingers will eventually press down and cover the holes on the bottom.
For the purpose of this exercise, however, we are only interested in what the left hand will do. Since I believe music is more of a right-brain activity, it is also important that the left hand is what we use for this exercise. The left hand/right brain is more involved with conceptual thinking and emotional accessibility.
Here are the first steps to follow to make music. First, pick up the recorder and place the mouthpiece in your mouth. Hold the recorder in both hands, with the left hand toward the top and the right hand toward the bottom. With your left hand, cover the thumbhole with your thumb and place your index finger in the first and uppermost finger hole. Inhale, and then gently blow into the recorder while covering the two holes. Get used to the feeling of inhaling and then blowing into the recorder, and get used to the feeling that your body, in concert with the instrument, has taken the first step toward making music.
Blow that one note a few times. The way to do this so you actually have a short note is to make a “T” with your tongue at the beginning of the blow, and then a second “T” at the end of the sound. In essence, the sound you will make will be a “Toot.”
Once you have gotten used to making a note with the index finger and the thumb covering their appropriate holes, take the middle finger of your left hand and cover the hole right below your index finger. Now, practice this note for a few times.
Once you are comfortable playing the second note, you will go back to the beginning. Lift your middle finger and play a single note while keeping your index finger and thumb on their appropriate holes. Now immediately place your middle finger on the second hole and blow a toot (do not lift the index finger).
Practice the change between the two notes by going from the note using solely the index finger and thumb to the note that uses the index and middle finger and the thumb. Once you are comfortable with these two notes, you will add the next set of notes.
Cover the thumbhole and index finger hole. Blow a toot, and then immediately place your left middle finger down on the appropriate hole and blow a toot. Now, place your left ring finger down on its hole and blow a toot. Lift the ring finger and blow a toot. Lift the middle finger and blow a toot.
Keep practicing changing among these three notes. When you are comfortable, try the melody in the figure below. The top hole is for your index finger. The half-hole represents where your thumb will be over the hole on the back. The second hole represents the middle finger, and the third represents your ring finger. When the holes are black, place the appropriate fingers on them and blow toots. The white holes are open and are not fingered.
You have now played a well-known American children’s song. It is called, “Mary Had A Little Lamb,” and you have now played your first piece of music. Play it through a few more times, and increase the familiarity and ease with which you play. You will find it becomes more enjoyable as you practice.
As you play the notes on the recorder, allow yourself to feel the joy that can come from creating music. Let the notes flow over you however they come. Note how you feel, and write down your experience in your Life Elements Journal. If you feel anxiety around playing and making music, allow yourself to feel the emotion, and then see if you can keep playing the notes to “feel through” and get past that anxiety. You will find that the notes you are making will soothe you with their delicate quality and sound. You might even feel a sense of pride and accomplishment for having made music. Allow yourself to enjoy that as much as you enjoy playing the many and varied sounds you can make with this fun little instrument. If it causes you to laugh, enjoy the laughter. If it causes tears, allow yourself to be present in your feelings.
What feelings come up for you as you make music? Do you remember school, and learning how to play or sing? Was your family musical? What are the possibilities and ways you can connect with this creative part of yourself?
As you answer these questions, remember that music allows you to connect with the deepest parts of yourself, and making music allows those parts to come to the surface. Let yourself feel your emotions as you go through this journey. None of these feelings are unimportant. Each of them has something to teach you about yourself and who you are becoming. If we slow down enough to learn a simple melody on an ancient instrument, we might find we can access our own long-lost emotions. When we do access those feelings, they have their own gifts to bring.
Whether or not you have ever played a musical instrument, much emotional fulfillment can come from playing something as simple and joyful as a little soprano recorder. Honor yourself for having completed what might be a challenging Mission. You have made music. You have taken part in one of the oldest and most wonderful forms of self-expression, even as you have accessed your own innermost feelings. Well done.