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Recorders are some of the most popular instruments for young students to learn on. They are made out of simple parts and are relatively easy to play. However, sometimes it’s important to mute your recorder to decrease the amount of noise it makes.
The easiest way to make a recorder quieter is to use a mute, which is a piece of paper or plastic that blocks off some or all of the whistle portion of the recorder, restricting the amount of air that comes out of the instrument, making the sound softer and more gentle.
Recorders can be exceptionally fun to play if you know how to work with them correctly. To learn more about muting and silencing your recorder, read on.
What’s So Special About Recorders?
Recorders are some of the simplest instruments in the world. They are one of the first instruments taught to small children in school because of a few key features. The first feature that makes a recorder ideal for teaching small children is the durable material.
While fairly inexpensive, recorders are generally made of durable plastic that can be thrown around and dropped with little to no impact on the instrument’s sound or utility.
The second feature of a recorder that makes it a great instrument for children to learn about music is that they are a very basic wind instrument.
Unlike a flute, where the musician has to learn how to use keys and hold the instrument upright, and unlike a saxophone, where you have to hold an entire structure in both of your hands, the recorder is lightweight and simple. It’s only made of a plastic tube with a mouthpiece, a few holes for notes, and a whistle.
Along with being great for children, there is also a growing revival among adult musicians trying to reclaim the recorder. Even though it has a reputation for being a simple and childish instrument, it can be used in some extraordinary ways when utilized by skilled musicians.
Since they are so similar to many instruments used in indigenous cultures in South America and Africa, recorders are a great gateway instrument to learning more about the music of people around the world.
Recorder Volume and Reasons for Muting
The simplicity of the recorder is one of its strongest attributes – once you get accustomed to how to place your hands and what amount of effort to use, playing the recorder becomes rather easy. It is not particularly hard to make beautiful music on this small yet strong instrument.
However, because of how simple its construction is, the recorder doesn’t have any sort of built-in mechanism for lowering its own volume. Because of this, the recorder has a reputation for creating a loud and abrasive sound.
Since recorders are ubiquitous instruments for grade school music programs across the country and around the world, children have become the main players of this simple wind instrument.
They come in a variety of colors and sizes and often come with simple music books that help children learn how to play different notes, keys, and melodies. However, there is nothing in these songbooks that teaches children how to play quietly. That’s why many parents are looking for ways to mute their recorders.
Muting a recorder is a great way to help your child learn how to play the recorder without damaging the eardrums of nearby listeners. Most of the time, people who mute recorders want to be able to hear the instrument, just not as loudly.
This is helpful because a child can play the recorder in their room to their heart’s content without having to be heard throughout the entire house. This principle also applies to adult recorder players who don’t want to bother their roommates or neighbors.
How to Make a Mute
The easiest and most effective way to quiet your recorder is to make a mute for it. There are very few commercially available recorder flutes, so it’s up to you to create one for yourself or your enthusiastic recorder-playing grade-schooler.
Luckily, we’ve got the best options for you so that you can still play your recorder but not have to bother everyone who lives with you.
The first and most effective option for muting your recorder is to make a silencer, or mute, out of paper. This is the easiest method of muting your recorder because it can be made out of any style of paper – receipt paper, printer paper, or construction paper would all work.
The easiest way to make a paper mute for recorders is to use the method that’s suggested by Dr. David Blood from Recorder Method Online – he is an expert on education on the use of the recorder and has some great tips for people just starting out.
What you’ll need to do first is cut a long strip of paper that’s the width of the whistle of your recorder. The whistle is the opening that can be found just underneath the mouthpiece (the part you blow into).
The paper that you choose to use for the mute should be sturdy enough to hold in place when it’s folded, so thin paper-like newspaper sheets won’t work for his project. Choose a sturdier material like thick printer paper or even cardstock.
Fold one-quarter of the strip of paperback, so you have a sort of sharpened “J” shape made out of paper – it should look like half of an arrow.
Wedge the folded end of the strip into the whistle of your recorder, making sure that it’s closing off the airflow through the whistle. As the whistle is the part of the recorder that actually creates the noise, blocking off the airflow through the whistle will cut off the sound almost completely.
What’s great about muting your recorder is that you can customize almost every aspect of the mute itself. If you want to silence the recorder entirely, you can keep the mute as it is made in these instructions.
Another option is to just decrease the volume on your recorder, which can be done by making the strip of paper used for the mute slightly thinner, so it doesn’t obstruct the whistle entirely. Allowing a bit of air through the whistle allows for more noise.
If you’re looking to make a mute that will last longer than just a few hours of playtime (since the paper mute tends to get soggy from saliva during the playing process, a mute can be made similarly out of pliable yet firm plastic instead of paper, as recorder expert Anne Delong suggests on her site.
The best way to mute a recorder is to create a muting device out of paper or plastic. What this mute does is create a blockage in the whistle portion of the recorder, which is the element of the instrument that creates sound.
When this portion of the instrument is blocked off, no sound can come through. Generally, these mutes are made out of paper and are just temporary fixes when you need a few moments of quiet practice.
Another option for making a mute for your recorder is to use a piece of pliable but sturdy plastic. By making a recorder mute out of plastic, you’re making one that will last longer and won’t fall apart in just one practice session. Recorders can be fun and easy to play, and having a mute will help your playing experience.
Also read: How to Muffle a Tambourine
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