• Would you like to improve your sight reading and playing skills?
  • Would you like to improve your pupils’ sight reading and playing skills?
  • Would you like your child to be a good sight reader and skilled player?
With this series of books, called Recorder Practice Books, good sight reading and skilled playing are not only possible, they’re almost guaranteed!

The main drawback to becoming a good sight reader and competent player is the lack of suitable material to read and play. That is until now. These books contain so many pieces, at each level, that the student will be ready for the next stage before the stage they’re on is completed.

There are 27 books in the series

  • Pre-Grade 1 Descant to Grade 8 / Diploma Descant
  • Grade 1 Treble to Grade 8 / Diploma Treble
  • Grade 1 Bass to Grade 8 / Diploma Bass
All grades contain music for Descant, Treble or Bass (with the exception of Pre-Grade 1, which contains Descant music only). The music for Treble at each grade is different from the music for Descant. The Bass books contain a selection of pieces taken from the Descant and Treble books of the same Grade, transcribed into Bass Clef. The largest books are Grade 4 Descant with 372 pieces of music, Grade 5 Treble with 302 pieces of music and Grade 8 / Diploma Treble with 162 pages of challenging music. The whole series of books contains over 2,000 pieces of music and over 1,400 pages.

It would be difficult not to progress with so much material in one series of books.

The music is not only graded from one grade to the next but also within each grade. There is a slight overlap between grades meaning that the pieces at the end of one grade will be the same standard as the pieces at the beginning of the next grade, thereby giving the student confidence in the new grade. The Introduction to each book contains “rules” for tackling a piece of sight reading. If these rules are followed progress is assured.

The first three books are in landscape format and contain music for Descant, Treble or Bass. All other books are in portrait format and are separated into Descant books, Treble books or Bass books. Grade 3 Descant and Treble books are in two versions, either Descant and Treble in the same book or Descant and Treble in separate books.

The covers are 200gm card, laminated for strength, and all books are wire bound to enable them to stay open on the music stand.

The upper grades in the Descant and Treble books contain a number of Sonatas, Sonata movements and works with a keyboard part. Accompaniments for most of these pieces can be found in publications listed at the foot of the page containing such a work.

All the music in the series has been chosen for its tunefulness and suitability. It comes from a wide range of sources throughout the world from Chile to China, Norway to New Zealand and many countries between. All styles and periods have been used from simple folk songs to operatic arias, 4-bar melodies to full concertos, music from 1,000BCE to the present day, including ragtime. Many of the pieces have come from the British Library and are here published for the first time. Other national libraries have also been consulted for their collections of original manuscripts. There is something for every taste and every preference.

Each book in the series is in three sections. The first section contains the sight reading pieces with instructions in the Introduction on how to tackle a piece of sight reading, the second section consists of a number of studies or study-like pieces to improve technique with comments on how to get the most from a study, and the third section contains pieces which can be treated as more advanced sight reading, especially if the pieces at the beginning of the book were found to be quite easy, or they can be used as pieces to practice for pleasure.

The Introduction to each book also contains a section on breathing. The whole series of books contains such a wealth of material, all of which is good to play, that the player cannot fail to improve his or her sight reading, technique and general playing.

Bass Recorder Playing

There is not enough solo music available in Bass Clef. It’s all very well playing the Bass in a Group or in a Concert if you are already a Bass player, but for the tyro, Bass parts are generally boring and, without a tune to play, there is little incentive to practice.

This series of books provides more than enough material, at each level, for the player to become sufficiently skilled in reading from the Bass Clef, that ‘ordinary’ Bass parts will not need practicing.

Choose a Grade a little lower than your normal standard and see how you get on playing solos in the Bass Clef.

Sticking with the Bass Recorder and playing a lot of music in the Bass Clef is advisable until confidence and a degree of proficiency are reached. Changing back to the Treble Clef too soon is likely to create confusion.

The Bass requires more breath than smaller instruments so places will need to be found in the music for additional breaths. Try not to break phrases or upset the rhythm.

There is a tendency to believe that Bass instruments are only capable of playing slow music. Not so! The limitation is literally in the hands (and fingers) of the player. The Bass speaks as readily and rapidly as a Descant or Treble recorder. The range of the Bass is comparable to the Treble. The higher Grades in this series contain music which gives ample practice in the very highest notes on the instrument.

Reading up an octave on the Treble Recorder

Music printing is believed to have begun around 1465 in Germany, shortly after the Gutenberg Bible. Prior to this time, music had to be copied out by hand. This was a very labour-intensive and time-­consuming process and was usually undertaken only by monks and priests seeking to preserve sacred music for the church.

Later, composers of both sacred and secular music wrote out their music in score and employed copyists to provide them with parts for their singers and instrumentalists to read from. These Part Books, as they became known, contained many unrelated compositions for just one part, eg, Soprano, Alto, etc, for singers, and Cantus, Bassus, etc. for instrumentalists. Many scores and part books from this period are now lost and it is the job of scholars today to write out fresh scores, if all part books are still extant, and to recreate a part in the absence of a part book and score.

Many of today’s publishers, some specialising in early music from the 15th and 16th centuries, accept modem-day arrangements of this music, much of it arranged for recorders. Some arrangers, with a desire to maintain the character and spirit of the original compositions, retain as much of the original music as they can. Thus some parts are written too low for modem recorders to play. Hence the need for players skilled in reading up an octave (usually on the treble) when performing this music.

As far as is known, practice books in reading up an octave don’t exist. For those players who wish to become skilled in reading up an octave on the treble recorder this book provides all that will ever be needed. It presumes no previous knowledge and takes the student from the very earliest stages, by playing tunes with only 4 notes, right up to full sonata movements. Anyone who has played through this book will have no trouble meeting the demands of any published music requiring the player to read up an octave. All the music used in the book comes from the standard repertoire, some familiar, some not. All the pieces are taken from Recorder Practice Books Grades 1 to 8 / Diploma, Descant and Treble.

Practice Book 24: Reading up an octave on the Treble (Book 1) contains 532 Graded Pieces (186 pages).

Practice Book 25: Reading up an octave on the Treble (Book 2) contains over 140 Graded Pieces (130 pages).

All notes are to be read, and played, as if they were printed an octave higher:

For example:
Example 1
Example 2
At the first appearance of a note it will be printed with the stem down in normal size and the octave will appear in brackets, stem up in smaller size, an octave higher:
Example 3
Example 4
It may help, in the early stages, to name the notes in your head as you play them.

Great Bass Recorder Playing

Practice Book 26: Great Bass Practice Book (Bass Clef) contains over 140 Graded Pieces (130 pages).

Practice Book 27: Great Bass Practice Book (Treble Clef) contains (181 pages).

It is important, when playing the Great Bass, to be comfortable.

A spike, set at the right height, is useful for putting the mouthpiece at the end of the bocal level with your mouth. Many players tum their feet so that their shoes form a platform on which to rest the end of the recorder. A sling is also useful but it should not be used to take the whole weight of the instrument. It should be used in conjunction with a spike or your shoes.

Sit comfortably and bring the instrument to you, don’t bend your body to meet the instrument. Doing so will lead to backache and pains in other areas. Try to keep the instrument vertical and resting on the floor or your shoes. Leaning the instrument to the left, in order to see the music, will put a strain on the left hand thereby restricting the use of the thumb when playing “pinched” notes.

Keeping the instrument vertical may restrict your view of the music but turning the bocal rather than leaning to the right will allow an unrestricted view of the page, top to bottom. It is common for all Bass players, regardless of instrument size, to raise their music stand to a comfortable height. This is natural enough but a clear view of the conductor is required at all times.

The height of your chair is also important but often there is little choice when visiting an unfamiliar venue. A cushion often helps or it may be possible to stack one chair on top of another. The ideal situation, of course, is to take your own chair!

The Great Bass requires more breath than smaller instruments. An attempt has been made in this book to allow for that. Extra breath marks have been inserted, many in brackets. Always take full breaths when playing the Great Bass and try to avoid breathing at the bracketed marks if you can. The faster you play, of course, the fewer breaths you will need!

You will have to shake out the condensation from the bocal frequently, unless your instrument has a tap, but it will need opening and blowing out often too.

Great Bass music is printed in either the Treble Clef or the Bass Clef. If you are reading from the Treble Clef think of the Great Bass as being a very large Tenor! It may also help to think of the Great Bass as being a large Tenor when reading in the Bass Clef though the Bass Clef will have to be borne in mind at all times.

All Great Bass music is written in C fingering. It will help if you think Descant Fingering when playing the Great Bass regardless of whether the music is in Treble or Bass Clef. It will also help if you name each note in your head as you play. Progress is assured if you THINK DESCANT FINGERING!