Woodwind

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The instruments in this family all used to be made of wood, which gives them their name. Today, they are made of wood, metal, plastic or some combination. They are all basically narrow cylinders or pipes, with holes, an opening at the bottom end and a mouthpiece at the top. You play them by blowing air through the mouthpiece (that’s the “wind” in “woodwind”) and opening or closing the holes with your fingers to change the pitch. Metal caps called keys cover the holes of most woodwind instruments.

Alto Saxaphone

The video shows Daire Maher 6th Class 2013-2014 interviewed and performing in Senior Orchestra in the programme “Meet The Orchestra” recorded in May 2013 and aired on RTE Junior in September 2013

The saxophone is a member of the woodwind family and is made almost entirely of metal. The sound is produced by a vibrating single reed which is the same sound producing method as a clarinet. The clarinet and saxophone are similar in many ways.

All instruments are members of a small family of instruments that come in various shapes and sizes. The saxophone family has basically four members. The Bb (B flat) soprano, Eb alto, Bb tenor and Eb baritone saxophones are all widely used. The most popular and best beginning instrument is the Eb alto saxophone. A student with very large hands can succeed with a Bb tenor saxophone but alto is usually preferred. The soprano and baritone saxophones are played by advanced players who probably started out with an alto saxophone.

The saxophone comes in three pieces plus a reed and a ligature. The ligature is the clamp that hold the reed in place around the mouthpiece. The reed is the most delicate portion of the instrument. It’s very easy to chip a reed by bumping the mouthpiece on a music stand or clothing. Once a reed is damaged or worn out, it needs to be replaced. Students who are very careful with their reeds will still need several replacement reeds to get them through a year of playing.

All reeds are given a rating of strength, “1” through “5”. The lower the number, the softer the reed. In general, the stronger or stiffer reeds are used by advanced players. Teachers have different opinions on the best reed strength for beginners. The most commonly held belief is that beginners should start with a number “2” reed. A number “1” is too soft. Players advance to higher numbers as their performance level and lip muscles develop.
The saxophone is played with the left hand closest to the mouth. The right hand covers the lower keys. Since the saxophone is the only woodwind instrument made of brass, it is capable of very loud sounds by a beginner. With practice, a player can produce a very soft and sweet sound.

The saxophone is a very widely used instrument. They play a critical role in bands, jazz groups and small instrumental groups. It’s a relatively new instrument compared to others. It is especially common to see a number of saxophones of various sizes in jazz groups. Professional jazz saxophonists tend to play more than one saxophone. They may own and perform on the soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones as well as the clarinet.

St Canice’s saxophonists perform in the Junior orchestra, Senior orchestra and Jazz band and may also get together with fellow woodwind, string or brass players to form smaller performing groups.

All instruments have limited availability and will be distributed for hire on a first come first served basis. Saxophones are available for hire for two years. Lesson costs depend on the size of the group being taught and can alter annually. Please ask for further details.

By |2019-12-19T22:31:49+00:00October 11th, 2019|

Clarinet

The video shows Jane Cass 6th Class 2013-2014 interviewed and performing in Senior Orchestra in the programme “Meet The Orchestra” recorded in May 2013 and aired on RTE Junior in September 2013

As with other instruments, there are several types of clarinets. The basic clarinet is small and easiest to play for young students. Beginning clarinets are made of plastic and professional clarinets are made of wood. Other sizes of clarinets include an Eb (E flat) clarinet which is smaller than the standard Bb clarinet. The Eb clarinet is not typically used as a beginning instrument. It’s difficult to control and constructed with the advanced player in mind. Other larger clarinets include the alto and bass clarinets. These are longer, curved instruments similar to the shape of a saxophone. Some beginners have done quite well on these instruments but generally the basic Bb clarinet is preferred for beginners. Two other clarinets are used by more advanced players. The contra-alto and contra-bass clarinets are extremely long and very low. A band or symphony orchestra may use one of these instruments now and then but their use is very limited. Since all of these clarinets are similar, a good advanced clarinetist can switch to any of these instruments as needed for performances.

The clarinet is a very popular instrument for beginners. Since lots of other students will choose the clarinet, there will be more competition with other players. However, the clarinet is a very widely used instrument. Clarinets play a critical role in bands, symphony orchestras, jazz groups and small instrumental groups. The styles that characterize the clarinet vary from a Mozart clarinet concerto to Dixieland clarinet. In both cases, the sound can be beautiful but the two styles sound completely different. The clarinet also works well as a solo instrument.

St Canice’s clarinetists perform in the Junior orchestra, Senior orchestra and Jazz band and may also get together with fellow woodwind, string or brass players to form smaller performing groups.

All instruments have limited availability and will be distributed for hire on a first come first served basis. Clarinets are available for hire for two years. Lesson costs depend on the size of the group being taught and can alter annually. Please ask for further details.

By |2019-12-19T22:35:32+00:00October 11th, 2019|

Flute

The video shows Jessie Oyenuba 6th Class 2013-2014 interviewed and performing in Senior Orchestra in the programme “Meet The Orchestra” recorded in May 2013 and aired on RTE Junior in September 2013

The flute is a member of the woodwind family and is made of metal. In order to produce a tone on the flute, the player blows across the tone hole of the mouthpiece, allowing the air to split at the far edge of the hole. That creates a whistle sound. It uses the same principle as a whistle or blowing across a bottle. In all cases the air splits to create a sound. Aiming a thin air stream at the edge of the hole to make a sound can be a bit challenging at first but it gets much easier with time and practice.

The flute is played parallel to the ground on the right side of the musician. The arms must be long enough to reach the keys comfortably. Most eight to ten year old students have enough arm length to reach the keys.

As with other instruments, there are several sizes of flutes available. None of the alternate sizes are appropriate for beginners. Advanced flute players tend to perform on the standard soprano flute as their primary instrument but they may also specialize in the piccolo or one of the larger flutes as an alternate instrument. The piccolo is a smaller version of the flute and is popular in band and orchestras. Other sizes include the alto and bass flute. These larger instruments are quite rare and only used in special circumstances.

The flute is one of the more popular instrument which means it’s also more competitive. The good news is that the flute is used in many different musical genres, a flautist has the opportunity to perform in bands, symphony orchestras, some jazz groups and small instrumental groups. The flute also works well as a solo instrument.

St Canice’s flautists perform in the Junior orchestra, Senior orchestra and Jazz band and may also get together with fellow woodwind, string or brass players to form smaller performing groups.

All instruments have limited availability and will be distributed for hire on a first come first served basis. Flutes are available for hire for two years. Lesson costs depend on the size of the group being taught and can alter annually. Please ask for further details.

By |2019-12-19T22:35:38+00:00October 11th, 2019|

Recorder

The recorder is a woodwind musical instrument that was popular as early as the 14th century. At the time its name was coined, the word recorden was used, meaning to play or to practice music, thus the recorder. It is a member of a family of end-blown flutes, known as fipple flutes, which includes flageolets and tin whistles. The recorder is set apart from these other members of the family by eight holes along its pipe.

The eight holes of the recorder are comprised of seven finger holes and an additional hole for the thumb of the upper hand. The lower two holes are normally smaller than the rest and positioned side by side so that the player can cover them with a single finger. The recorder itself is a pipe, traditionally made of wood but also from plastic in modern times. By blowing into the slot at the mouthpiece, a note is produced by air being forced against the hard edge called the labium. The musician varies the note by covering and uncovering the holes along the instrument’s pipe.

A recorder is normally comprised of three separate parts, known as joints. The top part is known as the head joint because it houses the mouthpiece. The body joint is the main pipe of the recorder. This part has most of the finger holes. The bottom section is called the foot joint and it has the final finger hole, which must be turned slightly so as not to line up perfectly with the other holes. On some recorders, the body joint and the foot joint are a single piece.

The beak is the narrow section of the mouthpiece and the part that the musician places between their lips. The narrow tube that is being blown into, extending from the beak, is referred to as the windway. As the air exits the windway, it strikes against a sharp edge called the labium. This process produces the sound. The opening in the recorder that extends from the end of the windway to the other end of the labium is known as the window.

St Canice’s recorder players in the Junior orchestra and may also get together with fellow woodwind, string or brass players to form quartets or other smaller performing groups.

Recorders are not available for hire from St Canices Music Programme and must be purchased. Lesson costs depend on the size of the group being taught and can alter annually. Please ask for further details.

By |2019-10-11T14:37:45+01:00October 11th, 2019|