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An under-rated instrument, thanks to the way most people are introduced to it: given a cheap descant at school and forced to play in squealing, discordant groups where rogue harmonics make their ears ring. Thank goodness for nuns.

Nuns? Yes, indeed – when I started at St. Joseph's Infants School in Devizes we were taught how to read music as a matter of course, a skill as important and as basic as reading text. As reading music doesn't make much sense without playing an instrument or singing, we were introduced to the recorder at the same time. Children who showed interest were then encouraged to continue playing and taken along to the Bath Festival to see it taken seriously. If more children – and of course their parents – were given the chance to see that the instrument can be so much more than a shrill plastic noise, things could only get better.

There are sites on the Web that explain much more than I have time or space to do here. If you're at all interested or curious, start by considering the following:

NGN site - topics

External links