Countless numbers of people have taken their first steps into music on a recorder. It is one of the instruments that many schools use to introduce young people to music. There is a reason for that.
It is lightweight, cheap to buy, and relatively easy to play. In the early days, choosing some of the best easy songs on recorder is very important. But before we take a look at that, let’s discuss its…
A Distinguished Heritage
It is a woodwind instrument that shares that derivation with both the Flute and Saxophone families, amongst others. It has a lengthy and distinguished history that stretches back as least as far as the Middle Ages. Although, it goes back much further than that in terms of its history to about 900 BC. Back then, it was made from bone.
It was a popular instrument in both Renaissance and Baroque periods when music and instruments were developing fast. Some of the great composers, such as Purcell, Handel, Vivaldi, and even Johann Sebastian Bach, wrote pieces for the recorder.
Its Use Waned
During the Classical and Romantic periods, orchestras increased in size, and the music became louder and more dramatic. The Recorder found it difficult to find a place in that environment during that time, and it became less popular.
The 20th Century Revival
It made a little bit of a comeback in the 20th Century as folk, and cultural groups included it in their performances and line-ups. It had always been an educational instrument, but in this period, it gained more credibility and became widely used for teaching woodwind instruments.
It is a woodwind instrument, as I have already mentioned. It comes from a group of instruments that are known as ‘internal duct’ or ‘fipple flutes.’
The recorder is distinguishable from other fipple flutes by the thumb-hole and the seven finger holes. The seven are split between four for the lower hand and three for the upper hand.
There are four different types of recorder that correspond roughly with the vocal range. They are soprano, tenor, alto, and bass. The soprano has the highest pitch. Recorders play in either a key of C or F, depending on what you choose.
What Should You Look For In Easy Songs For The Recorder
Choosing songs that can be played a little slower is a definite advantage. That is important in the development of the new player giving them the confidence they can produce a tune.
Songs That Help Develop Good Technique
Trying to play pieces that are too fast and too difficult has a major downside. You may find that you start to skimp on the proper technique just to create the tune. This is not a good idea.
Building a solid technique is an important part of the musician’s progress. You should, therefore, be looking for songs that allow you to develop the correct finger placement.
It is always best to learn simple rhythms in the early days. Too many rhythm changes during the song will only add to the complexity. The easier timings for the new players are 4 /4 and 3 /4.
Learning songs that you are familiar with is always a good idea. Knowing how it should sound gives you a significant advantage. I will include some of those as they will be a big help in using the correct technique for your fingers.
Songs With Plenty of Repetition
Choosing songs that have repetition in them is also a big help. By repetitions, I mean songs where you have to repeat a phrase or phrases over and over. That is an excellent way of producing good finger technique.
So, we have given some pointers on what sort of songs will be good to help you in your development. Just to recap, the most appropriate easy songs on recorder should:
- Help develop good technique.
- Be played at a moderate pace or even slowly.
- Have a simple rhythm that remains stable.
- Be familiar.
- Have repetitions.
Let’s take a look at some easy recorder songs for beginners.
30 Easy Songs on Recorder for Beginners in 2023
Hot Cross Buns
I’ll begin with probably the easiest song to learn on the recorder. It is usually a little tune that is learned in the first lesson. But, it is a good song to keep around for finger placement practice in the early days.
It is important because whilst there are only three notes, you are constantly switching between them. Therefore, it allows you to practice simple techniques that you will use in a more complex way later. The three notes you learn are B, A, and G, which are three of the most used.
Happy Birthday to You
Everyone knows this. It is not difficult to play and is instantly recognizable to everyone. You will even be able to lead celebrations for a family member or friend and impress everyone.
The tune itself is not difficult and has six notes, so you will be using nearly all of the scale. A good choice to practice finger placement as you are using six notes. And a song that also allows you to hold some notes where necessary.
A good part of the learning process with this song will be the jump from a ‘C’ to a ‘high C.’
Mary Had a Little Lamb
Nursery Rhymes are always a good place to start with learning to play any instrument. They usually have a very basic musical construction and are easy to play. And, of course, everyone knows them.
There are only three notes to worry about, and it does not have any high notes. It’s the sort of song you will probably learn very early on. But, it is a good song to keep practicing for finger placement and sound creation.
Clair De Lune
Now, this might seem an odd choice, given that I have been talking about simplicity and static rhythms. However, it is always good to introduce students, especially younger students, to the Classics.
Claude Debussy’s “Clair De Lune” is a beautiful tune that was composed for the piano. However, it is possible to play just the basic melody on the recorder.
It will be a little challenging at first. The note playing is not so difficult. But, to get the full effect, there are some interesting delays and pauses in the way it is played. A beautiful piece of music that is a nice introduction to the classics.
This is a very well-known song that everybody will know. That makes it a good song to learn on the recorder, but there are other reasons it is here.
There are plenty of notes that you will need to learn. But, they are arranged inside the song in a way that makes them comfortable to play. The finger technique will be important, which is why I have included it here.
Another element of this song is that it is a bit longer than your average nursery rhyme. That will add a new experience and help to improve the way you approach learning.
Once you have learned all the very easy pieces, then this is from a range of songs that are the next step up in complexity.
Row Row Row Your Boat
Back to nursery rhymes for this traditional English rhyme. This is a children’s song often used in music classes at school. If you are in a group of recorders for learning, it can be played as a ‘round.’
The good thing about this nursery rhyme is that it is quite short. Therefore, the notes will be quick and easy to learn. And, because you repeat the same thing over and over, there are as many repetitions as you want.
Old MacDonald Had a Farm
This is an age-old children’s favorite and is an excellent little song to practice your new and developing recorder skills. It only has just the five notes, but there is plenty of movement, which is good for your finger placement and technique.
It is not a particularly short nursery rhyme, but it does encourage plenty of repetitions. As I have said before, that is a good practice and learning tool.
A good Christmas song will never go amiss, and this is one of the best known. It goes back a long way, and when it was written, it wasn’t supposed to be about Christmas at all.
In the mid-19th-century, at some point, it became associated with Christmas and is now a favorite for that time of year. So, it’s one of the best easy songs for the recorder.
The melody is quite easy to play, and the timing of the notes will be easy because the tune will be familiar to you. It does give you the chance to hold on to some notes for an extra beat which is a nice practice element.
This is an old English folk song that Paul Simon picked up on his extended stay in England in the early 60s. He took the basic tune and words and turned them into one of the great classics of the period.
Some might think this is a strange song to include, but it isn’t. When played simply on a recorder, you are taking the song right back to its early roots, probably how you might have heard it a few hundred years ago.
Plenty of notes to play, but a recurring theme that allows plenty of repetitive practice. Because you will know the song so well, you won’t have to memorize the tune. Just the notes and the finger patterns required. And, being in 3 /4 time, it offers some practice playing in that time signature.
Another old English tune that most people will be aware of. It has been widely believed that it was written by King Henry the Eighth. It was a present to his lover and future 2nd wife, Anne Boleyn. This could be true because Henry was known to be musically inclined.
But, there is another song registered in London shortly after his death called “A Newe Northen Dittye of ye Ladye Greene Sleves.” Whatever, it is a pretty little tune that sounds great on the recorder and in keeping with its historical setting.
The melody is rather sad and is written in 3 /4 timing. It is easy to pick up, and once again, we have a song that can be repeated as many times as you like.
If you are reading this in any other country than America, then this song will be familiar to you but won’t mean very much. If you are in America, of course, it carries a lot of patriotism in its melody.
It is an American nursery rhyme that goes back a long way. Furthermore, historians suspect the tune was around long before the words were added. It is a relatively easy song to play even though it does contain quite a lot of quarter notes or crotchets, as they are also known.
In presentations, you may hear the tune played by a tin whistle. So, playing it on a recorder is not a million miles away sound-wise. It will give you a sense of historical realism. A good song to learn and to use as practice.
Let’s wind up this look at easy songs on recorder by suggesting this classic. Composed in Austria by German composer Franz Xaver Gruber in 1818, it has become a Christmas favorite all over the world.
In many ways, this is an essential beginner’s song for the recorder. It has plenty of good but basic techniques in its 3 /4 timing. And, played on the recorder, it sounds excellent. It is a bit longer than some of the materials we have looked at, which will start to stretch your ability.
However, it is a song that can be played over and over, and no one’s going to tire of hearing it. As you progress with this song, you can start to add your own pauses and create a very individual mood. If you are thinking of taking up the recorder, it is a great idea. Here are some things that may help:
- Eastar Soprano Beginners Recorder Key of C
- Yamaha YRA-314B Alto Recorder, Key of F
- Yamaha YRT-304B Tenor Recorder, Key of C
- Learn to Play Recorder
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
Ode to Joy
When the Saints Go Marching In
The Farmer in the Dell
London Bridge Is Falling Down
This Old Man
Pop Goes the Weasel
The Itsy Bitsy Spider
Baa Baa Black Sheep
Michael Row the Boat Ashore
Skip to My Lou
Turkey in the Straw
Oh My Darling, Clementine
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Easy Songs on Recorder – Conclusion
Learning to play a musical instrument may be one of the best life decisions you ever make. It is a skill that stays with you forever. And, it brings so much pleasure to you and others around you. There are very few better places to start than with a recorder.
These easy songs to play on the recorder are going to get you started making music.
Until next time, let your music play.