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The Descant (i)
strument and today has a large repertoire of music at its disposal. Those beginners who are struggling to play folk songs should keep this fact constantly in mind and, like the serious student of any other instrument, submit to the discipline of frequent practice.
Probably the most important point for the beginner to remember is that the breath should be controlled when blowing; this should be done by the diaphragm muscles round the lower ribs. A steady stream of breath is what is needed, not hard blowing at one time and soft at another. If the instrument is blown too hard, the note produced will be sharp, and if too softly it will be flat. Generally speaking, however, it will be found that the lower notes need softer blowing than the high ones.
When playing, breath should be taken in through the mouth, the sound of the breathing being inaudible to a listener, and not through the nose or through the instrument. Breathing and phrasing go together, so obviously the best place to take a breath is at the end of a musical phrase. Care should be taken not to reduce the breath pressure on the last note of a phrase, otherwise this note will sound slightly off pitch.
Fingers should always be kept poised about half-an-inch over the unstopped holes, like padded hammers ready to fall. They should not be allowed to stray away, even though the learner may find it difficult thus to discipline them. After some regular practice the tired feeling in the fingers, which most recorder players experience, will go. Holes must be completely covered with the most suitable part of the finger, namely the pad, and not with the finger tip. Unless the holes are properly covered the effect produced will be a painful squeaky sound and not a musical note. This means in practice that the fingers