Do you want to impress your friends or family on their birthday?
Are you looking for some new recorder songs?
In my 10+ years of teaching music and recorder to students, I often ask students which instrument they want me to play Happy Birthday on for them.
You’d be shocked (or maybe you wouldn’t?) how often they ask for it on the recorder.
If you know me at all, you know I love the recorder, and any chance I get to teach songs makes me happy.
You asked for it, so here it is. This is my breakdown of the birthday song.
How To Play Happy Birthday On Recorder
To play Happy Birthday on the soprano recorder, you need to know the notes, low D, low E, F#, G, A, B, C, and high D. The song is in 3/4 time and is a song of medium difficulty. End of fourth grade and fifth-grade students may be able to play it depending on when they started learning the recorder.
First, we’ll look in more detail at the notes, then the sheet music, and finally how to break the song down.
Happy Birthday Notes On Recorder
First, let’s look at the notes. Use the fingering chart below to help you.
These notes aren’t really tricky at all. The hardest one is probably F#.
Don’t forget to click the links to visit my dedicated articles on how to play each of those notes.
For those who need extra help with F#, here is a breakdown of the fingering:
- Thumb covering the back
- Left hand pointer on the first hole
- Left hand middle on the second hole
- Ring finger on the third hole
- Right hand middle finger on the fifth hole
- Right hand ring finger on the sixth hole
Use this chart to help you out too.
Happy Birthday Recorder Sheet Music
Here is the sheet music for Happy Birthday.
Notice the song is in 3/4, and we see the F# in the clef. This means every note on the bottom space is F# instead of plain, old F natural.
You may also notice the song starts on the 3rd beat of the first measure.
It’s more of an anacrusis or pickup note.
Check out the sheet music and notes here:
Learn Happy Birthday On Recorder Step By Step
Now, we’ll move into my step-by-step on how to play Happy Birthday.
As with learning any song, it’s a matter of breaking it down into chunks and piecing it together.
#1 First 3 Measures
First up is getting the anacrusis, or pickup note, and landing on the F#.
The F# is the hardest part of this step; other than this, you shouldn’t have too much trouble.
#2 Next 2 Measures
Next, comes the next two measures.
This isn’t hard at all, but you may mess up and do the leap from low D to G again instead of low D to A this time.
#3 Put Them Together
Now is the time to put the two together.
You may find it helpful to finger the parts first before jumping into playing.
Don’t move on from this step until you have it down solidly.
#4 Getting The Leap and Walk Down
This step is the trickiest in the whole song.
We’re playing from the low to high D jump and its quarter note steps down to the half note.
That jump is going to be the hardest part, so take your time to get it right.
Outside of this, some people also get tricked by the downward motion.
Remember, slow it down until you get it, and then speed it back up to a normal tempo or speed.
#5 Adding The Ending
Then, you need to add the ending.
This one isn’t too bad compared to the fourth step, but you may want to pay close attention to the C to B switch.
Watch out for it!
#6 Playing The Whole Song
With each individual section mastered, it’s time to put the whole thing together.
As always, I recommend fingering and saying the notes before playing it.
This lets you worry only about the fingers and not also about the air.
Once you have it down, congrats! You now know how to play Happy Birthday on recorder!
For those who prefer to learn by visuals, check out this video I made on it.
I hope this little tutorial helped you conquer this popular song.
Whether you show off at school or home or just to yourself, the recorder is a versatile and fun instrument to play without breaking the bank.