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Recorder Thread!


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#3331 Zixi

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 12:17

@anacrusis - I agree! Sadly, some educators manage to suck the joy even out of playing in the sand pit! blink.png 

 

@oag - LCM could well offer a lot of flexibility for Mrs Grumpy.  I do know what she means and I sympathise; even more so because I think I know how some of those syllabus decisions got made...

I agree over the VE! I've just bought vol 3 because I couldn't find many of elemimele's suggestions. rolleyes.gif 

 

"a suitable recorder" - hmmm that's a bit like asking: What is a suitable camera?  laugh.png So... anyone up for your Desert Island Recorder and why? smile.png 


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#3332 old_and_grumpy

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 12:40

So... anyone up for your Desert Island Recorder and why? smile.png

 

I was actually thinking in terms of something that would be reliable and withstand the rigours of desert island life, which probably means plastic and with no moving parts.  For me I think it would boil down to a choice between my Aulos keyless tenor and my Aulos Haka alto.  I'd prefer a tenor but the Haka is nicer to play out of those two, so I'd probably take that and finger as if in C.  Perhaps a better choice would be a Bernolin plastic alto.  Of course, if I thought I'd be rescued quite quickly and the BBC was going to buy me the recorder of my choice as a luxury....


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#3333 Zixi

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 13:23

 

So... anyone up for your Desert Island Recorder and why? smile.png

 

I was actually thinking in terms of something that would be reliable and withstand the rigours of desert island life, which probably means plastic and with no moving parts.  For me I think it would boil down to a choice between my Aulos keyless tenor and my Aulos Haka alto.  I'd prefer a tenor but the Haka is nicer to play out of those two, so I'd probably take that and finger as if in C.  Perhaps a better choice would be a Bernolin plastic alto.  Of course, if I thought I'd be rescued quite quickly and the BBC was going to buy me the recorder of my choice as a luxury....

 

rofl - I'm afraid I did 'reliable' too. And I so wanted to shuffle off the practical and be all artistic... I thought: It's hard enough caring for wood at the best of times and at least I could wash the Haka in the sea if it got sand into it... I'm a little worried as to what Bernolin might say if he knew I'd washed his recorder in the sea... Aulos won't care... They'd never know...


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#3334 Zixi

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 10:53

re Music certs

Trinity have very patiently and extremely kindly confirmed this for the Music Certificates. I'm really impressed with how they deal with queries...

 

Any size(s) of instrument may be used; pieces published for descant recorder may be played on the tenor and pieces published for treble may be played on bass or sopranino if desired.

 

I'm also really impressed with that flexibility. It seems very suitable for those of us who have left it all a bit late because we were busy being something else... But I don't know where that leaves the 'syllabus infringements'... I'm sort of tempted to test it... but my mind likes things tested and signed off...

 

Anyway, someone has managed the first repeat of Lavignone Modo 3... and with her new found skills rattled off some Anna Magdalena last night - this time with the rhythm bang on (according to her very generous and much too forgiving husband)... so is feeling smug... smile.png I bet smug will be dashed tomorrow when said person tries to play for teacher...


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#3335 old_and_grumpy

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 12:53

Zixi: thanks very much for all the info.  I'm a long way from thinking that I might do any exams but, if I were to do so, an exam where you had a choice of instruments, a wide choice of pieces, and no technical exercises would be the one for me.  Similarly, choice of instrument doesn't apply, but the format would otherwise suit Mrs G as well.


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#3336 Maizie

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 13:00

The syllabus infringement specifically refers to "Grades 6-8".  Certificate exams are not in the graded exam syllabus, so that infringement simply can't apply to any certificate exam.  Certificate exams have an equivalent level to a grade exam but that's an indicative level only, not 'the same rules apply'.

The "Information & Regulations" which does apply to both graded exams and certificate exams doesn't mention anything instrument-specific, nor does it say anywhere that the regs for graded exams also apply to certificate exams (which is kind of the whole point - certificate exams are something different to graded exams).

 

 

Hmmm, I wonder if you could put together a completely unaccompanied certificate exam programme...


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#3337 Zixi

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 13:38

Maizie that was exactly my problem with their first reply. I think they need a few more sentences somewhere to clarify. The 'unaccompanied' has dawned on me too - you can't avoid that via LCM if I remember correctly but I think I've tested Trinity's patience enough.

oag - I think Mrs G might like the certificate exams... or LCM...I don't want to touch any more exams until I've got my dog behaviourist diploma... I feel like I'm doing A levels and being torn in different directions. I'd like to concentrate on one thing for a bit!


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#3338 old_and_grumpy

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 17:44

A completely unaccompanied programme - now there's a thought.  I don't have much incentive to go for any kind of exam, but there is a little part of me that thinks it would be good to pass one.  Lots of things put me off, one of which is the need for an accompanist - not something I have easy access to: I'd presumably have to pay someone, and need to do some rehearsing with them, and they'd be unlikely to be local, so all a lot of hassle.  I've had a quick skim through the syllabus and can see no mention of having to have an accompanist: there is all sorts of info about technical and interpretative skills and so forth, but I can't see anything about fitting in well with the piano part, either in the marking criteria part or the repertoire guidelines.  I suppose marks could be deducted in the "balanced selection" area but there are not many marks allocated to that anyway.  Rules is rules, and if you didn't break any, I think it would be hard to fail you because you did something unexpected, possibly not deemed to be within the spirit of the requirements but still being within the letter of them.  You might not get the highest possible mark, but in the end passing or not is pretty binary.
 


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#3339 anacrusis

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Posted 18 December 2018 - 11:38

for my licentiate exam, I played more unaccompanied pieces than accompanied - and got an adverse comment for it in the report. Trouble was, the person who does the best job of accompanying me doesn't live in Edinburgh, so getting together for rehearsals needed some coordination, and would be even harder now. I remember playing in a music festival years ago, had my same accompanist, and watched as many of the others relied on the official festival accompanist - I was so relieved to have my own! The official one was competent enough but not somehow "involved" - whereas mine knew my weaknesses, covered for them, and engaged in musical dialogue with me, steadying my nerves in the process... in other words, a gem. I've played with others who are technically as good, but lack that ability to adapt at speed to my gremlins, so I know who I'd ask, should I ever do another exam...

 

The SRO had a rehearsal on Sunday - we played Steve Marshall's arrangement of Corelli's Christmas concerto, and I was asked to play bass - it was a tremendous romp of a part, jumping all over the place at speed - thank goodness for the cover of a whole orchestra over the top of that, and a co-bassist to steady it all :D . Made up for having missed the carols at work, having gone down with a grotty cold that day. 


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#3340 elemimele

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Posted 18 December 2018 - 21:20

Logically, in terms of exams, it depends on what skills the board want to test. I assume they insist on accompanied pieces because they take the attitude that the recorder will often be used in an accompanied situation, the ability to operate with another musician being an essential part of the recorder player's basic skills. But if they're thinking that way, probably pianists should be obliged to play at least one accompanying piece in their exams.

Perhaps a more humane approach would be analogous to how driving exams were (are they still?): you can take your test in an automatic, but if you do so, you're only licenced to drive automatics. Solo-only exams would be permitted, but would result in a certificate endorsed: "tested only in isolation: the board take no responsibility for use of this musician in multi-player scenarios"...

 

I don't honestly know how a festival accompanist can cope with all those different, previously unknown soloists; it must take a very high level of musicality, understanding, flexibility and ruthless musicianship to deal with the situation.


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#3341 anacrusis

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Posted 18 December 2018 - 23:44

the other factor with the accompanied rule is that a bad accompanist can crash the exam for the candidate.... however, having been very lucky with accompanists for recorder exams - my own teacher for two, my kids' piano teacher for one, and a friend for the final one - I'm afraid the exams didn't actually demonstrate my ensemble skills at all (or rather, my lack of them). Found that out the hard way when I went on an advanced ensemble course with distinction at grade 8 in the bag... and fell to bits ;) . It's taken me eight years with the recorder orchestra to learn those finally...


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#3342 elemimele

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Posted 19 December 2018 - 07:50

I don't know, but I would imagine, that a recorder ensemble is completely different to playing with a piano (or harpsichord) accompaniment? Piano is quite tolerant of minor tuning deviations, but two recorders together beat dreadfully if they're not playing exactly the same note. Even some quite good recorder orchestras, brave enough to put bits on youtube, sound a bit like the voix celestes stop on an organ (risk of the whole thing sounding like a fairground ride). It's a mystery to me how more than 3 players manage to come out with the same note at all.

I am serious, though, about thinking that accompaniment ought to be on the piano syllabus somewhere; probably not as a compulsory item, but I think pianists should be given the opportunity to demonstrate their skill in this key area if they wish. It is, after all, the professional destiny of a lot of keyboard players.

On things like the recorder syllabus, maybe another way to go would be to allow pairs of recorder players to offer a duet as one of their pieces? Though it would suffer from the same problem that one player could accidentally sabotage the other's exam chances.


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#3343 Maizie

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Posted 19 December 2018 - 09:03

With AB you can do ensemble exams, i.e. recorder and something-other-than-piano (including other recorders).  I can't paste a link (at work, IE11, which seems to forbid pasting things in to this box), but if you go to the Our Exams page then at the very bottom there are 'group assessments'.  There's example repertoire for some instrument combinations, but you can have any combination of instruments from those which AB offer exams in (and up to 10 performers in your ensemble).

Ooooh, and it looks like Trinity allow groups to take certificate exams - with no maximum on the group size, so your whole orchestra can go for it!!

So I think we have most things available across all the boards, you just have to find something that suits your needs best.  The grade exams are the most 'conventional', in the sense of accompanied pieces, unaccompanied piece, technical work.  But you have the Trinity certificate exams, LCM Leisure Play or the AB performance assessment for 'pure performance' exams.  Performance Assessment says you have to provide your own accompanist 'if appropriate' - I don't see anything that says you couldn't do a completely unaccompanied PA (in the same way that the Trinity certificate exams don't appear to forbid this).

Pianists don't have to do accompanying as part of their grades, but there are exams in accompanying if they want to be tested in that skill - LCM and Trinity I think.  They then have the reverse problem of having to find a decent soloist, so they at least know the traumas some of us go through trying to find decent accompaniment biggrin.png

 

I'm still up for working towards an ensemble exam of Big Recorders if anyone wants to rofl.gif


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#3344 Zixi

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Posted 19 December 2018 - 10:29

 

I am serious, though, about thinking that accompaniment ought to be on the piano syllabus somewhere; probably not as a compulsory item...

 

We have a lot of fun with this idea. My husband is learning piano but still thinks it's odd that the piano never has to prove it can play with anyone else... So we do this:

"For the final part of your exam, your surprise accompaniment is... A group of 5 year olds playing descant recorder and Stairway to Heaven... You have 5 minutes to prepare.

We also do similar with singers... "Your surprise instrument is... the bagpipes and Chattanooga Choo Choo...


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#3345 old_and_grumpy

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Posted 19 December 2018 - 12:17

Assessment is always a tricky thing.  When I worked in HE we used to get industrial advisors coming in from time to time and they always wanted courses to contain more group work, arguing that most graduates would end up working in teams and they often lacked appropriate skills.  However, both staff and students tend to hate assessed group work, for all the obvious reasons, and I suppose performance with an accompanist is subject to much the same problems: clearly an individual performance might be made better, or worse, by the accompanist, irrespective of the skills of the candidate.

Maizie: I agree that there is a fair range of options available - though none of them is exactly what I would choose to do given absolute carte blanche.  Probably the Trinity certificates come closest because at least they let you use whichever recorder you want.  I've had a quick look at LCM and though they have a good range of types of exam, all the recorder pieces in the lists are for descant or treble; you can use tenor instead of descant at the higher grades but there's no mention of other sizes.

My one area of criticism of all the boards is that they are quite rigid about accompaniment.  For recorder, piano does not seem to be the ideal accompanying instrument - if nothing else, it didn't exist at the same time as the recorder (leaving out contemporary music).  As people have observed here before, harpsichord or lute/guitar would be better, but I think to use one of those you would have to enter a group performance exam - a bit silly if your harpsichord player is a professional you've paid to act as accompanist.  I don't particularly agree with the ban on recorded accompaniment at all but the lower grades.  I can see that it's not exactly real musical interaction, but on the other hand it could be truly consistent and allow for a greater range of options. 

Having said all that, exams are pretty artificial and if I do ever decide to try any, I suppose I accept that I will attempt to jump through whatever hoops are placed in front of me - it's my choice. 

Does anyone know, very roughly, how popular recorder is as an examined instrument at the higher grades?  I get the impression that most school children who start on recorder either switch to a different instrument or give up - neither of the schools my children went to offered recorder as an instrument.  If the numbers are quite small, it's probably not financially viable for boards to introduce too many options they then have to be able to cope with.


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