President’s Message for October

The Orange County Recorder Society exists for three reasons:

1. People who are interested and enjoy playing recorders together

2. People willing to volunteer their time to organize OCRS

3. Members who pay their dues to support the excellent conductors that we have.

To date approximately half those who attend our monthly meetings have actually paid their dues. Please find attached a copy of the 2017-2018 Membership Application and bring or send yours in to Susan Mason along with a check payable to Orange County Recorder Society.

The Los Angeles Recorder Orchestra performed its Fall concert the last 2 weekends and I hope that many of you were there to enjoy their suburb playing. OCRS is fortunate to have over 10 members of LARO playing with us and congratulations are well deserved as LARO starts its 13th season.

This month we are fortunate to have Alex Opsahl leading us again. She has had a very busy year traveling nationally and internationally and recently her Tesserae Baroque Ensemble of Los Angeles was featured at the June Corona del Mar Baroque Music Festival with a Festival Finale: A Quire of Choirs including cornettos, sackbuts, strings and vocalists performing majestic works of Gabrieli and Monteverdi. It was incredible, and those of you who have never been to this Baroque Festival, you should plan to attend — this year they are celebrating their 38th year.

Once a year early in the season, I like to gently remind us of the basic etiquette of playing at a large monthly meeting. Observance of the following practices will help the meeting to run smoothly, with the least disruption from participants and with the most time spent playing music. Above all, please remember that unnecessary talking during the meeting is discourteous to the conductor and distracting to the other players who are trying to hear the conductor.

1. When the President stands to start the meeting, all talking among members should stop. Likewise, when the conductor is at the podium, there should be no talking among members.

2. No noodling on your instrument. If you wish to practice your part, finger the notes without blowing into your instrument.

3. Pay attention to the conductor when he or she is speaking. That way you’ll know what the conductor is asking of the players (for example, where in the music the group is to begin playing).

4. Direct your questions to the conductor, not to the person seated next to you. If you have a question or comment, raise your hand and wait for the conductor to acknowledge you. Please keep any comments to a minimum.

5. If you must say something to your neighbor, please do so in a whisper with your hand cupped next to your mouth.

6. Keep your music bags, personal belongings, and unused instruments under your chair, if possible, or immediately beside your chair. This will allow members to easily walk to and from their seats, and will avoid damage to instruments from their being accidentally stepped on.

When informed that the break is over, please promptly return to your seat and stop talking when the conductor returns to the podium. Thank you.

I like to put something in each month on playing the recorder better, and this month I have included another bit of advice from Anne Timberlake who will be co-leading us at our February 17th Recorder Workshop with Miyo Aoki:

“Flexibility is an important life skill. It’s also an essential part of playing the recorder. We frequently move between fingering systems, switching from C instruments to F instruments, G and D and beyond. And we toggle between clefs- treble and bass to start, and often more.

It’s a great mental workout, but it can also be frustrating. You pick up an alto but your fingers are still playing a tenor. Or you’re trying to read bass clef and your mind slips back into treble.

“How do I deal with switching instruments?” is a question I’m asked frequently at workshops.

There’s no easy answer, but there is an answer: strategic practice combined with a simple technique for orienting yourself to new instruments and clefs.

Get Comfortable

It might seem obvious, but the first step is to get as comfortable as possible in each mode (clef or fingering system) in which you play. If you’re not comfortable in bass clef, for example, spend a little time each day reading in that clef. There’s no “trick” to clef reading, but it does get easier with practice!


Rather than picking up a new instrument and plunging right in, take a moment to breathe and go through a three-part checklist:

1. Ground yourself physically by placing all seven fingers and your thumb on the instrument, as if you were playing its lowest note. This will help accustom your body and mind to the new stretch.

2. Say the name of the lowest note in your mind.

3. See the line or space to which the lowest note corresponds. Imagine yourself playing that note.

Taking the time to orient yourself, both physically and mentally, will pay dividends when you start to play.

Switch it up

We get better at what we practice, so why not explicitly practice switching? One exercise I often give students is to take a multi-part piece and, working either up or down, play each of the parts in turn. It’s a great way to practice, deliberately, the flexibility you’ll want during workshops and performances.”

See you the 13th.

—Win Aldrich