A recorder for children has to be robust, but at the same time should convince with an appealing design and sound. For 38 years we have been building this wonderful instrument in our workshop, which goes back to the idea of the recorder teacher and educator Dorothea Hahn.
The Engelberger five-tone flute is manufactured in two tunings. It has been specially developed for the introduction to wind instruments. Thus it differs clearly from the construction of traditional recorders in the proportions of the sound-forming areas, without, however, losing or even hindering their possibilities of clear articulation.
It is incomprehensible that the area of articulation is often neglected, although it has long been known that the tone makes the music. And what does a melody sound like if it consists of nothing but tones with the same sound? Our language also lives through the colourfulness of articulation. And when we tell children a fairy tale, for example, we use all these shades of our language to let the little listeners experience the story properly. If music is to live in children, it is important that they can experience it.
Nor would it be understandable that at an age when children have already learned to articulate sounds (language), this ability should not be used and developed for music. For this reason, great importance has been attached to the possibility of free and broad articulation in the development and construction of each individual instrument. Since the Engelberger Fünftonflöte is aimed at beginners, however, the range was deliberately limited in order to concentrate the lessons on the basics.
Thus the children are not distracted from the search for small, neatly played and tangible melodies by a large range which they cannot grasp.
The playing range thus includes the 5 notes d, e, g, a and h, which can be played via the four finger holes on the front. The instrument is made of waxed pear wood and the design is harmonious, light weight and robust for everyday use.
Our Engelberger Fünftonflöte has intentionally only 5 notes. So it is simple enough to let the child already experience in the first school year that his great effort of will also bears beautiful fruits. It is essential that every child can come to this experience, and this is a given with an instrument with only four holes.
It was also important to us to create a flute through which one can release enough air to strengthen the child's exhalation. Doesn't our time tend to just breathe in? But the invigorating inhalation can only take place if the child has previously exhaled vigorously; and how happy is the child if it is allowed to transform the inhaled air completely into sound.
From the beginning, we make sure that the tip of the tongue is used to produce the sound: it is our servant who opens the door to the sound at the right time. It is known how essential the lutes D and T are to the development of the child's mind (GA 307, Ilkley,8.8.1923).
If one can cultivate them here in the musical stream, one should not miss it. These are the outer sides of the small flute. But the essential thing is: it puts so few technical difficulties in our way that we can work on the innermost approach.
So let's start. The teacher, of course, always performs, every smallest exercise, because the child needs the auditory impression, which then helps him to imitate. Sometimes it takes a long time to reach the child's ear, because it is closed. Thus the infant had protected himself from the modern noise to which he is often exposed.
But we have to make sure that our children learn to really listen again. The teacher now lets the sounds speak to each other and ask each other: "Are you there? It's different from saying, "Now please play the same note three times."
With the help of this small sentence, I can also stimulate the melodic thought to flow, to turn to the other. Thus a musical conversation is created between teacher and pupil. It is important to remain constantly in inner movement and to lead our melodies, which are entrusted to us again and again out of the inaudible, from one tone to the other.
For us adults, the tones often have something standing for themselves - we string them together. But we help ourselves over it by playing fast and in this way creating the illusion of a movement. But doesn't our soul sometimes remain completely empty?
For the child it is a tangible reality that every note has 2 gates: the one to which the melody comes in, the one to which the melody is played and the one to which it is played.