Tonette vs Recorder: What Is The Difference?

If you go back to your elementary school music days there’s a chance that one of the first instruments you were introduced to was either the tonette or the recorder.

Both instruments are easy to learn and recommended to use for anyone who is new to learning about music.

As similar as these instruments are, they aren’t the same. Both are designed to sound similar to the flute and are a great starting point for anyone who wants to learn.

They make look and sound alike, but there are a few key features that set tonettes and recorders apart from one another.

The main difference between these two instruments is the materials they are made from.

The tonette is a plastic instrument and usually made on the cheaper side. Recorders are a bit better quality when it comes to make because they come from the woodwind instrument family.

Most recorders are made from wood or ivory, but over more recent decades they have switched to stronger quality plastic.

Just because the tonette is made from cheaper plastic than the recorder doesn’t mean that it isn’t a suitable instrument to start out on.

Many talented musicians began their journey with a tonette in hand after all. When it comes to the tonette vs recorder debate, here is everything you need to know.

Which Is Easier To Learn To Play? 

There is no winner to this round. When it comes to the easiest instruments to learn how to play, both recorders and tonettes sit high on the list.

They are both a great starting point for anyone who is curious about learning how to play a musical instrument. Both instruments are designed with similarity. Once you learn one, it’s easy to pick up the other.

This is why they are usually introduced in schools as a first instrument for students in music class. Once a student learns how to play one of these two instruments, learning others becomes a lot easier.

However, which instrument your school has will all depend on their budget.

Which One Is Better To Start With?

As mentioned above, both are great starting points. However, your age and how serious you are about learning should play a factor in which one you start out with. 

Tonettes are a better starting instrument for young children. They are much cheaper and lighter than a recorder. There is a good chance a young child may not be as interested in learning about music once they start, and a tonette isn’t as big of an investment.

Another reason tonettes are better for smaller children is because they are nearly indestructible. Since younger kids usually aren’t as careful, you won’t have to worry about them breaking it if they are a little more destructive.

For older kids and adults, the recorder is the preferred choice to start out with. The material it is made out of is much better quality and they feel like they are holding a real instrument.

Often older kids or adults feel silly playing a tonette because it reminds them of a kid’s toy.

Do They Sound Alike?

Both tonettes and recorders have a pleasant sound. They do sound very similar, but the recorder is capable of delivering a wider range.

The tonette has a range of just one octave, where the recorder has a range of 2 octaves. Some people will use an over-blowing technique to extend the range of the tonette, but it usually sounds awful.

Tonette vs Recorder: Final Thoughts

Both of these instruments sound beautiful and are excellent for beginners. A student can learn a lot about playing music using either device.

Although they are very similar, when it comes to quality the recorder is the winner. It looks, feels, and sounds slightly better than the tonette does.

This doesn’t mean that the tonette isn’t a great instrument itself. Many people have fond memories of the music they made with their tonette growing up.

It is a great starting point for kids or students on a budget. You can learn the same skills you would if you were using a recorder.

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