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Let’s hear it for my Norfolk recorder group dream, says Hilary

13:34 11 October 2012

A traditional school recorder group photographed in Norfolk in 1990. But Hilary Adcock says playing the instrument can bring lifelong enjoyment to all ages.

A traditional school recorder group photographed in Norfolk in 1990. But Hilary Adcock says playing the instrument can bring lifelong enjoyment to all ages.

It’s an instrument that generations of us remember playing at primary school – indifferent renditions of London’s Burning or Bobby Shaftoe, maybe – and then putting down and promptly forgetting as we grew older.


And yet, as Hilary Adcock will testify, the recorder can provide a lifetime of pleasure. In the right, loving and capable hands, it can make an exquisite sound into the bargain.

For four decades or more Hilary has taught music; although retired now, she still does, to an enthusiastic group of boys and girls at Beetley School in their lunchtime.

She’s an enthusiastic member of the Mid Norfolk Singers, too. But she retains a particular soft-spot for the woodwind recorder in its many forms, from the pint-sized, higher-pitched garklein to the ubiquitous descant of childhood memory, the treble, tenor, and the more statuesque bass and great bass.

And now Hilary, of Gressenhall, is planning to start a community recorder group in or around her home village to bring together fellow aficionados and introduce others to its mellow, subtle tones. She wants it to consist of players of both sexes, all ages and abilities.

“Ideally, I’d like the group to appeal to everyone from pensioners to children and everything in between,” she said.

Her search has already attracted a handful of interested people, and she is keen for more to get in touch, including complete newcomers.

“With luck, I will establish a group of beginners and then intermingle them with more experienced people as time goes by,” said Hilary, who plays both descant and treble.

“To start with, I’m just thinking of it being a group in which we can entertain ourselves – a real community project – then we can see how things go from there. I’ve got no preconceived ideas: I’m gaining a flavour at the moment of who is out there.”

Hilary used to run a recorder group for her child pupils but stressed that it was an instrument that could be enjoyed by all ages. It was affordable, too, a decent descant costing under £15 or a nice treble under £25.

“If you are properly taught they sound lovely,” she said. “It’s not an instrument that’s as popular as I would like it to be. Some people do think of it primarily as having this rather overblown sound, which is a real shame – it does not have to be like that.”

The recorder is, of course, associated with the Renaissance and Baroque musical eras, when it performed an essential role in the compositions of everyone from Byrd and Dowland to JS Bach and Handel.

But don’t forget that it was used, too, by The Rolling Stones in Ruby Tuesday and Led Zeppelin in Stairway to Heaven.

And Hilary recalls how some of her past recorder pupils loved to put their instruments even to jazzy use.

If everything goes to plan, her new group will meet either after school hours or at weekends, depending on who comes forward. A possible meeting place is Gressenhall Reading Room.

To find out more call Hilary on 01362 860439.



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