Amateur musicians have loved playing music since the word was first derived from the Latin - ‘amare’ – meaning ‘to love’. Once a month in Connecticut, a group of amateur recorder players meet to improve their technique and sight-read skills, and to enjoy the experience of making music.
On an early Saturday morning in Middlefield, about 20 people are greeting each other, setting up music stands and tuning their instruments. The room is filled with different sized recorders: soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. There’s a viola da gamba, even a sackbut, a forerunner of the trombone.
"Most of the music that we do is what we call early music, much of it from the 16th century," said Bruce Larkin, music director of this Eastern Connecticut chapter of the American Recorder Society.
"Heinrich Issac -- we’ll be doing one of his pieces this morning," Larkin said. "Josquin des Prez -- you may have heard of him -- he was one of the greatest composers on par with Beethoven in a later time."
Larkin, who has taught recorder and early music for over 30 years, will lead this day's gathering. Other months, visiting coaches come in to conduct the ensemble.
The group includes retired college professors, a speech pathologist, a physicist, and a computer professional.
Social worker Joyce Goldberg has been a member for more than 15 years. "Many of us now are getting on in age," she said, "but there are a few people coming up who remember playing an instrument in high school or in college. It's very easy to transfer what you know and become a recorder player."
Basic recorder technique is not hard, so it’s considered a great instrument for someone who has never played music before, or who may have had to stop along the way for work or to raise a family.
Member Debbie Tenney said, "I look forward to this every month. It's one thing to play by yourself, or play with a group of two or three, but to have a whole roomful of recorders, it's just such a beautiful sound."
And for these players, its not about creating the perfect end product. It's about sharing a creative outlet, a sense of meaning and accomplishment and one weekend a month making music together.