Subject Advice


About me

Where do I begin?  Well, here I go. I was brought up in Northern Ireland I started playing the recorder at Primary School, alongside the Cello and Piano.

I went to an all-girls’ state comprehensive school in Bangor, County Down, which had a fabulous music department and a dedicated team of music teachers who from the time I joined the school to leaving gave me every opportunity to learn, play, laugh and live music.

I performed at the Belfast Music Festival and throughout Northern Ireland playing recitals and concertos.I trained with Keith Rogers and Fiona Donnan, annually played at recorder play days at QUB Early Music Society where Philip Thorby and others tutored. I finished my studies at Stranmillis Teacher Training College, Queens University, Belfast. I gained my LTCL in Recorder Teaching in 1987 and have been using it ever since. The minute I could, I got on the boat and came to England. So that was that was 35 years ago.

I joined u3a  in October 2019 as I was caring for a friend with dementia and thanks to the wonderful Sutton Coldfield Recorder Group, found a home for my recorders and I. Since then, I have assisted at our meetings, arranged music on musescore for the group through lockdown and beyond, tutored some of the other members online and face to face.I helped arrange our first playday with Helen Hooker, July 2023.

I am a member of the Society of Recorder Players and have attended the annual festival for the last couple of years which is always fun.

My role as Subject Adviser

My role therefore as a recorder subject advisor is to be there for all members of u3a, no matter what your level, beginner to the more advanced.

I am hoping to talk to all the recorder leaders about their groups in the coming weeks and see where we all are at. Especially, as post Covid things have changed across a number of groups.

I am happy to share my scores with all u3a groups and to assist sourcing music etc for you. I am available for all members especially if you are a beginner and need a hand to get started through two weekly online sessions.

I’m going to be available for anyone who has a query and needs assistance. Be it learning the treble/ descant/ tenor/ bass/ how to read music or tips on articulation and styles etc.

I will be setting up through the online learning platform through u3a Recorder Assist and learn area where scores at all levels can be accessed. Duets/Trios/Quartets and larger forces.

News from other u3a groups

Devotion to recorders in Uttoxeter (article)

Devotion to Recorders in Uttoxetter

In August 2023, we were just beginning to enjoy our summer of relaxing music following our successful
performance at that year's u3a "indoor Garden Party"!

Then I managed to fall over and develop a very painful back. Being unable to get out of bed for a month or two, I had to ask the group to run themselves for the foreseeable future and, to their great credit, they
managed to keep themselves going for the rest of the summer, sharing music and supporting each other!

Come October and it was time to start thinking about a programme to entertain the rest of the u3a again, at Christmas. I was still out of action, so Carol stepped in and planned an entertaining programme, working out who would be able to join in the event and who would play which instrument.

By December, I was just about able to get out of the house and Jane was able to pick me up on her way to our venue as she went along to the group to "polish up" their performance to concert standard and to conduct them! So I managed to return to the fold and was very pleased to find that I could play my descant, treble and tenor but wasn't feeling quite up to the bass yet, and certainly not the Great Bass. I would be able to join in with Carol's well planned programme without having to take any sort of "leadership" role.

Two weeks later, as we were leaving our weekly meeting, Carol fell over and broke her leg. I couldn't help much, but one of the others was able to gather her up and take her to the hospital! It was already clear that she wouldn't be joining in the Christmas performance. We were all very sad about that.

Undaunted, we carried on with our plans. One piece we had been planning and practising for some months was Praetorius' "Resonet in laudibus" with 4 descant soloists and a "chorus", we hoped, of at least four players. The soloists would stand one in each corner of the hall. Following Carol's disastrous fall, one of the chorus had to step up with only one or two rehearsals to play one of the solo parts. Everything worked out well, and we felt justifiably proud of ourselves. Those who were able to join the queue for tea or coffee said that quite a few members congratulated them. Others had plainly enjoyed "Rockin' around the Christmas
Tree" and "All I want for Christmas", complete with percussion instruments played by members of the
audience, rather more! We were very sad that Carol couldn't be with us, but I was very glad that I had made it.

Come January, I was able to make my own way to our weekly meeting, and at the end of that month was the first of our monthly "Renaissance one-to-a-part" sessions, held in the Community Room of a local
supermarket. This was Carol's first outing since her accident and it was lovely to have her with us again. We made quite a picture making our way through the shop to the Community Room! I tried to pull a trolley with Winifred's bass and great bass while Winifred pushed the wheelchair, which was a supermarket trolley with the front half replaced by a sort of chair with Carol perched on it, while 3 people's bags were in the back half.
Carol was tempted to wave like royalty, she was so high up! Then I had to give up the trolley to Beryl so she was pulling two trolleys, one with Winifred's instruments and one with her own, while I carried her bag of music. She's well over 80 with very arthritic hands, so she did well. I wish somebody had video'd us!!

We usually draw some strange looks as we progress through the supermarket to our meeting room - we're probably the only people who take a lot of luggage INTO the shop, but this was an even more unusual sight! 

Now as we approach the spring and start to prepare for an "Evening Soiree" in July, a third member of the
group has fallen over and - guess what - broken her leg!! We're hoping that we shall all be fit and able to join in the summer event, although we do wonder whether we should consider issuing walking aids as standard equipment!!

It shows how devoted we are to our u3a recorder group! 
Brenda Welch
Uttoxeter u3a Recorder Group Leader.

What a lovely day in Bromsgrove !

Well didn’t I have a lovely day, the day I went to Bromsgrove!

I know that I am not usually out on a Thursday. However, this week I was.

I had been invited to Bromsgrove by Jenny, who kindly picked me up at the station and we made our way to a lovely church hall where the wonderful u3a ladies had started to arrive half an hour early, (to get a parking space), but were all there wanting to play.

This u3a Recorder group is special. Most of the group do not live close by but drive to it every other Thursday for a 10.30 start. They play incredibly well, and they were looking for a few tips. We discussed articulation and dynamics.

Jenny has ensured that all the players had their music, it was the Recorder Adviser who was seen wanting.

They warmed up with Autumn from the Four Seasons. Then came my choice of music. Leopold Mozart Bourrée I and II, a Bach Chorale and finally Lord Willobies Welcome Home by Byrd. I was surprised the group were slightly worried about how they would do. They played beautifully and even the most difficult sections from C-F.

For future reference for myself and other groups, I’m coming to support you I do not conduct an OFSTED inspection!

I’m looking forward to meeting more groups over the coming months. I am so pleased to hear you play maybe I should have got a midi file to attach to this. There was a photo but that is on the Bromsgrove website.

I am still offering free recorder lessons on Skype, please just email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I know I am going to Norfolk in July and North East area in June.

Meanwhile I need to get back to my map.

I hope to have many more stories to share with you soon. If you have been out and about playing please let me know and I can publish it on the site.

Thank you again Jenny and her lovely u3a in Bromsgrove!

Recorder Festival Birmingham – Birmingham Conservatoire  13th April - 14th April

As recorder players we have a wonderful opportunity to attend workshops and play during the weekend of 13/14 April 2024.

Annabel Knight is directing the event and it is dedicated to Ross Winters.

It is open to anyone, so why not book your tickets and bring your recorder along. I’ve got my tickets

You can book tickets on

Outline of Events and more information  

RecorderFestivalEvent.docx (17.39 KB)

Happy recorder playing!

Hopefully, anyone reading this gets the idea that I am really looking forward to meeting with you, learning how I can be of use to you. Hopefully learning, laughing our way through any problems and creating good recorder music playing together across the u3a UK.


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