Improve your sound by playing with articulation

Different consonants create different articulation.Typically speaking, when a student first starts recorder, they begin by learning the importance of a steady breath stream and how to use their tongue to start each note. And usually, people start off by using a ‘t’ sound.

It’s a great starting place for articulation: it’s easy to do and creates a good clear sound, especially in the mid-register where most people start learning their notes. But if you are using a faster breath stream to play a little more loudly, or if you are playing lower notes, sometimes you might find that you get a little unwanted ‘pop’ sound before the note. If you are particularly vigorous, the note may break or not sound properly at all!

So you could try playing more softly by using a little less air, or you could start to play with your articulation by using different sounds to start the note. Think about how many different consonants you can make without using your lips to form them: d, g, r, l, n. You can use all of these as articulations when you play your recorder.

Each articulation creates a very different sound and attack on the note; some create a different sound post-attack; some are great for playing at speed; all of them can be used to create different moods and characters to your melodic line.

If you’re more a beginning player, start off by trying a ‘d’ sound and see if that helps you to make your melodies more smooth.

If you’re an intermediate to advanced learner, practise using different articulation in your scales and arpeggios. Then try experimenting with different articulations as you work on your repertoire. You can use different sounds to help you with phrasing, or to emphasise certain notes or beats. They’ll also help you to play high notes without them cracking so much.

Give it a go, and let me know how you get on.

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at