Suddenly it's cool to play recorder

9th July 2004 at 01:00
They squeak, they squeal, they shriek. It's hard to find anything good to say about a recorder in the hands of young children.

But the much-maligned instrument has been given a PR boost in north Wales - courtesy of a special concert led by professional recorder player Piers Adams.

The charismatic performer led workshops with pupils of two primary schools, culminating in a joint performance at Rhyl's packed town hall last week.

Parent Philip Nye, who helped lead rehearsals at Llandrillo-Yn-Rhos primary school, Colwyn Bay, admitted he wasn't convinced the children would be able to carry off the performance.

The piece they were given to practise, "Movie Moments" by Andrew Challinger, was "fast and rhythmically challenging".

But it all came together in the pre-concert workshop and in rehearsals with Piers Adams, who played solo parts as well as leading the children.

"It was brilliant and exciting. He accepted what people could do and somehow brought the best out of them," said Mr Nye.

The children were also asked to improvise sound-effects to a story about insects taking on the birds that prey on them in a dark forest. They made eerie wind sounds by blowing sideways into their recorders, like a flute, and dropped them on the floor to represent falling trees.

Carol Thomas, Llandrillo's music co-ordinator, has decided to change how she teaches recorder as a result of the concert. Instead of running two groups of beginners and more advanced players, she plans to have a single recorder orchestra, with simpler parts for beginners.

"I can't tell you how exhilarating it was. Some of the children were laughing with excitement," she said.

"Hearing Piers has improved their perception of the recorder as an instrument. I think they will strive in school to practise. At the moment they would prefer to play three notes badly on the flute rather than play a tune on the recorder. But I'm hoping their whole attitude will improve now."

The workshops were sponsored by the Arts Council and Yamaha and organised by the Bryn Consort, a long-established recorder group based in Colwyn Bay.

Aled Owen, a Consort member, said: "We are hopeful this will have made the children realise there is more to playing a recorder than going on to the flute."


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