Searching for alto recorder music and info
February 23, 2018 2:12 PM   Subscribe

I dug my old alto (treble) recorder out of storage and want to play it, just some little tunes and things (nothing fancy). I'm looking for some good resources for music, and bonus if I can simply adapt various arrangements.

My recorder is a wooden alto F recorder made by Gill, and I've just brought it out and am enjoying noodling around with it. I'm finding it difficult to locate much music online for it - most everything labeled "Recorder" is for the soprano recorder, and really not suitable for me. Or is there an easy way to adapt those? (see below) I'd prefer to use more of the mid-level tones like between G4 and G5, since those are easier to reach. Some examples of what I like: Water is Wide and It Came Upon the Midnight Clear.

So I have a few questions if you can help:

1. Where's the best source for alto recorder music online? I am looking for simple tunes, not difficult sonatas and things. I have found various sites but they don't seem to have a great selection.

I'm willing to pay for music if I can be sure it's within the range of my instrument, and a book is fine as long as I can see a song list of what's in it first.

2. Do you know of a good guide for finding out how to possibly alter or adapt music? I see some music that has notes that go below the F that my recorder can reach, and I'm wondering if there's a way I can do it, like by shifting everything up an octave or something. I'm a beginner when it comes to music theory, I'm afraid, so if it's quite complex I won't be able to do that. Or is there software I could use?

3. Are there specific search terms I should use? I tried "F instrument" on a big sheet music site (, but this got me stuff with notes below F (the lowest note I can hit), so I'm not sure what to search with. Maybe I'm just using the wrong approach altogether?

I'd be grateful for any help. Thank you.
posted by cats are weird to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Look for flutegirl on youtube. Here are two, from Mozart and McCartney.
They are much fun, free, and as easy or difficult as you please.

They are not exactly sheet music. Rrcorder music seems to be comparatively scarce. I generally look for flute music--lots of flute music doesn't go below F, and even if it does, there's always something you can do.
posted by hexatron at 2:40 PM on February 23, 2018

I love It's a site for free notation software, but there's also a big library of other people's uploads you can search and filter by instrument. Advantage: if you use their software and see a tune you like in the wrong range, you can transpose it. has a ton of everything old. It may take a while to find what you want.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:05 PM on February 23, 2018

I don't have anything specific, but why not look for vocal music written for alto voice? Ages ago, when I was in high school, we had a recorder quartet (I played soprano), and we had great success just playing SATB choral arrangements. I don't remember any of us having range difficulties with our chosen music.
posted by lhauser at 7:36 PM on February 23, 2018 has some sheet music! This page also has a few.

I also got myself the 2nd Enjoy the Recorder book for alto and it has a good collection of short tunes. If you have a friend with a soprano recorder, this book has a bunch of duets.

I don't think there are any instruments that have a range that stops as high as an alto recorder, which makes things tricky. Most SATB arrangements I've found have a pretty dull alto part, but if you want a set of Christmas Carols, this pdf has a nice collection. You generally have to read the alto part up an octave, though.
posted by that girl at 7:50 PM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

As for transposing, shifting up an octave is a good beginner transposition exercise. It's totally fine to just play things an octave higher than they're written!

F recorders and an F instrument like the French Horn (which I also play) are actually totally different beasts. F recorders are still concert pitch instruments (i.e. if you play a C on the alto recorder, it's the same as a C on a piano, where for a horn a C on the horn is an F on a piano). Your best bet for other instruments would be to check out flute music. Flute Tunes looks to have a lot of pieces and you can search for pieces with a lower bound! That search should give you a lot of things to check out! I'll have to look myself :)
posted by that girl at 7:57 PM on February 23, 2018

I also got myself the 2nd Enjoy the Recorder book

Yes, method books are a great source! Just a couple of weeks ago, I picked up four at a local secondhand shop for $0.25 apiece. I'd offer to share scans, but they're all for soprano/tenor.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:57 PM on February 23, 2018

Hi I'd like to just thank everyone for their responses, and mention some things I found, especially for anyone else who may find this useful as well.

Underpants Monster, thank you so much for the suggestion of! I downloaded the software and figured out how to enter notes and do transpositions, which wasn't hard at all. This helped me adapt various songs I found on the site. I was particularly happy to be able to get and adapt a version of the Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker theme that I can play. There's so much music there, it's a real treasure trove. And the previews and such allow you to listen to the music before you decide to download it. Very handy site/software!

Also I grabbed a version of I'll Fly Away from my dad's old guitar songbook that I was able to enter into musescore and play with until I got it into a form I can use. This is one of my favorite ones to play right now.

I found a channel on Youtube, Team Recorder, by a woman named Sarah Jeffery who is a recorder player and teacher, and who has over 50 videos on there (10-20 minutes in length) about all aspects of playing a recorder, from how to hold it, to how to clean it, how to play the highest/lowest notes, and anything else you can think of. An amazing resource, and I am still working through all of the videos.

I got some recorder books, and several of them are based on recommendations from Sarah's videos. I got the Trapp Family Recorder Method for alto (treble) recorders, The Sweet Pipes Recorder Book, The Modern Recorder Player, and also Altblockflöteschule, which is a German book that I have ordered but not yet received. I am going to rely heavily on Google Translate to figure that one out. I also got a book from the same author, Altblockflöte Solobuch, with alto recorder solos, but yikes there are some super difficult pieces in there. In the table of contents, ones that are easier are marked with an "L", but even those are mostly too hard for me.

I got a spare plastic Yamaha alto recorder from Amazon that was highly rated, for about $20. I got it because it is easier to care for and clean than my wooden one.

I'm going to continue to look for more simple-ish songs to play. So far I'm practicing I'll Fly Away, It Came Upon A Midnight Clear (good for practicing the highest notes I am currently comfortable with), and The Water Is Wide. Playing the Wind Waker theme is my goal for after I have mastered those songs.
posted by cats are weird at 8:52 PM on March 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

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