Expanding the family

No, not that one…we’ve been here before (Introducing the family). Anyway it’s over two years since I introduced my family of recorders and it has expanded considerably since then, courtesy of Ebay. I now have a couple of Moeck Tuju trebles, several Moeck Tuju descants and a Moeck Rottenburg tenor. Back in September I added another size to my recorder family. I now have a little garkleine. This is only about 6 inches long and feels tiny when trying to play it.

My new found enjoyment of playing the recorder convinced me to try taking ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) exams in recorder. I set my sights low to start with and started collecting the music for Grade 1 Descant. At first it seemed difficult, but after a bit of practice, I realised it was within my ability. I took the exam at the beginning of July (on my birthday of all days) and to say that I was nervous was an understatement. I must have got something right as I passed with merit.

My son started playing the clarinet about Easter time and before long I had bought a Boosey & Hawkes Regent clarinet off Ebay for him. It needed re-padding and the tenons needed re-corking. I found an on-line source of repair materials and armed with a degree of confidence and no experience I began. I remember his clarinet teacher saying “it looks complicated doesn’t it” and thinking “oh yes, when do I take it apart”. The technical complexity of it didn’t frighten me, it intrigued me. Anyway, I proceeded methodically removing key by key and bagging them and the screws/posts individually. I kept the bags in the order that I removed the keys, so assembly should be a case of reversing the order. Once the keys had been removed, I removed the cork. That wasn’t difficult, it more or less just unpeeled. Next, the body of the joint was washed in warm soapy water and then thoroughly dried. I then cleaned the keys the same way and the pads just sort of disintegrated in the water. I’ve since learnt it is a lot easier to remove the pads before cleaning the keys. Once the keys were clean, I polished them using my Dremel.

Re-corking the tenons wasn’t as difficult as I had imagined, but very time consuming. Re-padding the keys was a case of melting the glue in the pad cup with a soldering iron on the outside and then locating the new pad into the cup. Then the key was re-fitted and the glue re-melted and pad finally positioned. All in all, the first clarinet took a couple of days to strip and re-pad, not going to make my fortune doing it for a living. I had to tweak one key when my son’s clarinet teacher played it, and his verdict was that it was a nice instrument. His first clarinet was a Regent and he said that the feel of it was the same.

After this, I re-corked the music school Boosey & Hawkes clarinet that my son had been borrowing and adjusted a bent key on a music school Braly clarinet. When my son’s clarinet teacher played the Braly, he was so impressed that he said I could have a look at his clarinet. So a couple of weeks later I was asked to look at his Evette. He let me know what needed adjusting, but the more I looked, the less convinced I was that we were adjusting the correct key. After some discussion, we went with my gut instinct and the end result, in his opinion, is that the instrument hasn’t played that well for 30 years.

By this time, Jo had been telling me for a few weeks that I would end up playing one, so using a spare reed, I had a play on my son’s clarinet one day and was pleasantly surprised with how good a sound I got from it. So, it was only a matter of time before I had my own, which of course I stripped down, cleaned and re-padded. I am enjoying playing the clarinet; the fingering in the lower register is similar to the treble recorder, so there are transferable skills. Blowing on pitch is taking some getting used to, but I’m getting there.

Time after time I keep coming back to the recorder and I don’t imagine I’ll ever leave it. Since September 09, I have been going into my daughter’s school, after school on a Friday, teaching a beginners recorder group with the assistance of one of the other parents. They have been making good progress and have played in each end of term governor’s assembly.

I have recently added a Moeck Rottenburg rosewood treble to my collection. Hopefully it should be nicely played in for my ABRSM treble grade 1 exam that I have in my sights for the summer.

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