I had my Auros recorder when I was about 7 and still have it now, over 25 years later! I think these recorders are made to last as mine is pretty much as new bar a few bite marks on the mouthpiece!
About the Recorder
It's a basic recorder suitable for beginners and for a number of years afterwards. If you are going to buy a recorder buy an Auros one as they are by far the best in sound and quality and not just cheap and nasty like some other brands.
The recorder is made from plastic and is a rather striking black and cream design. The design has hardly changed in years, if at all - mine looks exactly like the one in the picture. The picture shows the standard size recorder everyone begins to learn on and is called the descant. Auros also make all the other sizes of recorder from piccolo to bass.
The recorder comes in a cloth orange cord-like bag with a draw string on the top plus a rod to clean it with. The recorder is in 3 pieces and can be pulled apart for cleaning purposes, which is advisable as they get pretty disgusting inside! As it is all plastic the best thing to do is to wash it in soapy water in the sink, using the cleaning rod and kitchen roll to get inside. The 3 elements of the recorder are the top, which is the mouthpiece, the middle, a long section with holes for the notes and a small bottom section which is the bell and has the holes for the lowest notes.
Playing the Recorder
Top tip - don't blow too hard! This is what most beginners do and it sounds rather shrill. If played nicely the recorder can actually sound quite nice, believe it or not, although I still can't seem to accept it as a "serious" instrument despite seeing professionals play from my time a music college. I should also point out that professionals use hand crafted wooden recorders and not Auros plastic ones!
To play the recorder is quite easy, however to play it really well is actually quite a skill. This recorder is easy to blow and get a sound from and it is easy to learn the finger patterns for just over an octave range of notes. The holes are easy to reach with little fingers, hence this is such a good starting instrument for children around 6 or 7.
The descant recorder's lowest note is C, an octave above middle C and it can go to two octaves above this. However on the Auros it would be difficult to get the highest notes, as it is not made to be used by players that advanced. The recorder sounds an octave above what it is written on the page, so what is read as middle C comes out an octave higher.
There is a vast array of music for recorder players of all stages and countless teaching books on how to play. The recorder is quite easy to teach yourself as an adult, much easier than guitar or piano. Traditionally the recorder was very popular in the Baroque period, hence there is loads of Baroque music available for advanced players. There isn't then a lot of repertoire until the twentieth century, where more recently writing for the record has come back into fashion, although most of the music is avant garde!
I have no idea how much mine cost, but I was surprised when I just did a search that they sell for around £10. This is an absolute bargain and I think it is worth getting a child one of these even if it is only used as a toy to being with. Most schools offer recorder lessons in class and it is much nicer to use your own rather than some revolting one that half the schools has spat down!
This is the best basic recorder out there for price sound and quality. They are very durable, they can be dropped, although I wouldn't advise it as it might mess with the tuning. They are easy to clean and easy to learn to play and Auros has by far the best sound and most accurate notes for a cheap recorder.
I have been a recorder player since the tender age of 5, and still play now both in a chamber ensemble and a recorder orchestra. I have also taught recorders to children's groups in the past.
To those who do not play the recorder, it is often seen as a cheap, almost "throwaway" instrument, something kids fiddle about with at school and then "move up" to something else; I do play other instruments, but the recorder has remained my first love, instrument wise!
This particular model of Aulos is an updated version of one which was my first ever recorder, back in 1984 (!), and I am happy to say very little has changed about it, either in style or quality...although inflation has meant that it is rather a bit more expensive than it was back then! Yes, there are cheaper so-called recorders out there, even some (cringe) available from pound shops these days, but the problem these "instruments" have when compared to a true instrument is their total lack of tuning. The aulos descant is a fantastically reliable instrument not only for the money, but even when compared to the highly desirable wooden descants by manufacturers such as Moeck or Kung, which can cost hundreds of pounds; I have played this model in ensembles with other lucky people playing very expensive recorders, and have never had a tuning or tonal issue with this instrument. It is supremely reliable and capable of a lovely tone under the right fingers!
Another huge plus for this instrument is its durability. My first recorder is still playable, if you ignore the "wear" which has occurred to the thumbhole at the rear, which to be honest is only to be expected after over 25 years of loyal service! With slight thumb adjustment, however, its tone and tuning are still as reliable as ever. And as a child yes, it did get occasionally knocked from a music stand or dropped, and yet still never cracked.
Something else I really like about this model is the spacing of the holes. It can make a huge difference, particularly for a beginner, to have the holes in convenient places to make them easier to reach and re-find with your fingers once you have removed them! At one time I bought a replacement for one of these, and after advice from other players went for a Yamaha, but found that I missed the nice spacing on my Aulos so went out and bought another one of these instead! The three sections (some models have only two), mean that is it easy to "customise" the location for your little finger, which is a particular consideration for people with smaller hands, or those with dexterity problems.
I have always liked the distinctive black and white colour scheme of this model too...yes I know colour has nothing to do with how it sounds, but I have always just thought they looked nice! xD
Overall I would say this product is fantastic value for money, and alongside the Yamaha a very good option for a starter instrument, which can also be of very good use for many years afterward!