Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Breaking In

A couple of weeks ago a recorder arrived in the mail. Oh happy day! The baroque Boudreau alto recorder is the newest addition to the Koenig-Schindelin household. I procured the almost new recorder from a friend/colleague of mine, who had thought he would play recorder, and then changed his mind. Wise man.  New, or almost new recorders are finicky little beasties (ok all recorders are finicky beasties) but particularly new recorders. One can play a new recorder for a few minutes a day, and then the recorder needs to rest.  The general consensus is 15 minutes a day for the first week. What torture, to have an exciting new instrument in ones hand, and only be allowed a few minutes a day. Particularly when one has a solo performance in two weeks. 

It is like dating someone new, but only for fifteen minutes a day. I guess the parallel isn’t exact. It is like dating someone for fifteen minutes a day who can completely change from day to day. On day one you might get the chain-smoking women with two troubled kids, on day two she is a is now a countertenor he with a lovely voice, and day three we are back to the chain-smoking women with two troubled kids, but now she has a jealous ex. Day four there is suddenly a man with a head cold. You never know who you are going to get those first couple of weeks.

Limits are required on practice sessions during this formative time in an instrument’s life know as “breaking in.” It is because the instrument needs to become accustomed to having moisture played into the windway.  It is an interesting turn of phrasing, breaking in something. As a bassoonist, I am constantly breaking in reeds. Once a blank is finished, scraping and playing on a reed are always in order, aka the breaking in process.  I don’t feel that one really “breaks” in a recorder. It is more coaxing an instrument out from under the foliage into the fresh air.

In my imagination, recorders aren’t made, but rather captured out in the wild, and it is up to the musicians to domesticate them, very carefully. Recorders carry this delicacy, this almost catlike skittishness through their lives, they cannot be played on too much, or else they become oversaturated with water. They don’t like extreme temperatures, or extremes in humidity. They will just close up shop over the smallest inconsistency in their surroundings.

I kind of like babying the new recorder. Maybe it will get tiresome over time. I have always played what people perceive to be the sturdy bassoon, an instrument that is definitely sensitive in its own way. The bassoon, rather than being a temperamental cat, is more like a swan. Swans are beautiful, unless one pisses one off.  It is an interesting change to now also play this little delicate beastie, the beastie that can fit in my purse.

No comments:

Post a Comment