Recorder Hell

Recorder Hell

We are in recorder hell.

Two Fridays ago Milo came home with a recorder. A State-sanctioned, State-endorsed, State-sponsored recorder. We have to pay $7 for Happy Healthy Harold but recorders are deemed so essential they are prioritised in the budget and provided to all. I received a recorder in year 3, you received a recorder in year 3, we ALL received a recorder in year 3. Where did this intergenerational torture come from and why does it persist?

A recorder is a shit instrument in so many ways. Unless a child plans to host medieval banquets as an adult, mastering it gets them nowhere. It is so temperamental that if the applied pressure is off by half a hecto-pascal (I know this is a unit of pressure from a childhood spent watching local weather reports and presume it also the correct unit of measure for recorder playing) the sound moves quickly from accurate (but still pretty shit) to absolutely ear-splitting in a nano-second. Because it is so boring to play properly, every single practice session moves from Hot Cross Buns to ‘damage all those tiny important bones in my parents’ ears’ within 35 seconds. It is so transportable that I don’t even know it has come in the car with us until the sound is blasting those little wispy hairs that I only just discovered off my ear-lobes.

Also, why does every song sound the same? Hot Cross Buns? Mary Had a Little Lamb? Jingle Bells? On the recorder – same song.

One of the downsides of owning a record player is that the boys enjoy playing 33s at 45 speed and vice versa. One of their favourites is playing Taylor Swift 33s at 45, like a Taylor Chipmunk. They call her Saylor Sift and these days she features on the rotation more regularly than Taylor. Saylor is not bad actually, once you get used to her, and much much better than 45 Taylor played at 33 – Maylor Mift. She is melancholy and depressing, and makes you think bad things are just over the horizon. Anyway, recently Milo has started playing his recorder along to Saylor Sift. It is absolutely as awful as it sounds.

I do actually want some answers. I presume at some point an education department apparatchik forgot to carry the one and signed off on a vastly larger contract with ‘big recorder’ than they intended. And knowing, as we all know, that you don’t mess with ‘big recorder’ we are all still paying for this mistake.

Days, or at most weeks from now, all of these thousands of new recorders will mysteriously vanish, as so many millions have vanished before them. But in the meantime parents across the country are shaking their fists, covering their ears, and yelling frequently, and irrationally at their children who are gleefully shattering the peace all in the name of ‘music homework’.

An artistic impression of my recorder dreams