Recorder Power

For my entire life I have loved listening to, playing, writing, and creating music. It might make sense, then, that I went to Luther—a school famous for its great music programs. Weirdly, however, Luther’s reputation as a musical school is not what I came here for. The passionate people, the beautiful area, and the spirit of community were the main draws for me. That being said, this hasn’t stopped me from enjoying and taking advantage of the atmosphere of musicality that thrives on this campus.

Currently, my only “official” involvement with music at Luther is through my membership in the Collegium Recorder Ensemble. I had not played recorder since 4th grade when I started the semester, but when one of my Immersion Trip student leaders, Olivia Benson, told me about this group of students and community members who play baroque and renaissance music, I was instantly interested.

In preparation for the ensemble I bought a $4 soprano recorder from Kephart’s music store in Decorah (which I highly recommend—the employees there do an excellent job of masking their frustration when I hang out there for an hour or so playing extremely expensive mandolins and then leave without buying anything—sorry guys!) and reviewed the fingering. Having virtually no experience, I opted to join the beginners group and practice until I wouldn’t make a fool of myself in the more experienced ensemble.

At the first practice, however, I was switched from soprano to alto recorder which is in a different key. This basically made what little experience I had with recorder absolutely worthless—I was starting from scratch. It was a tough beginning because not only was I learning a new fingering, I was trying to unlearn the one I already knew. Each week, however, I began to adjust to the new fingering and was having a lot of fun in the process.

This past week we had our first performance! On Thursday night we all headed over to Java John’s coffee shop in downtown and played a four song set of English folk tunes. What makes this setting particularly fitting is that the original “collegiums” of the past were often groups of college students who would get together and play music in coffee houses. This made it feel like we were carrying on a tradition hundreds of years old. After the beginners group played, I stuck around for a few minutes to hear some of the advanced group’s songs. It was extremely cool to hear all the different instruments and I can’t wait to start playing with them (which will hopefully happen in the next few weeks).

This post was really meant to just give a glimpse into how the opportunities associated with the musical culture at Luther can benefit even non-music majors. I would hope that all students who come to Luther get to be involved (in at least some way) with the great musical programs that are extremely accessible and fun for all.

The different types of recorders in a set.

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