‘It’s got balls and it can bite’: the woman blowing recorder prejudice away

She is revolutionising the classroom scourge – blasting raw experimental music through it, sometimes playing two at once. Meet recorder powerhouse Laura Cannell

The recorder does not enjoy a good reputation. In the popular imagination, it’s somewhere above the kazoo but below the harmonica– an instrument that brings back schoolroom memories of painful, atonal versions of Frère Jacques, with spit dripping on to floors. And that’s why Laura Cannell lies to her hairdresser about what she does.

“I just say I play the violin,” says the professional recorder player and composer. “It’s horrible if your memory is of a plastic instrument that tastes of disinfectant and sounds awful. Kids’ fingers don’t cover the holes, so it’s bound to sound terrible.”

Yet Cannell is revolutionising the recorder, pushing raw, wind-whipped compositions through it, and sometimes playing two at once in stark medieval harmonies. […]

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