Musica Antiqua visit to Boone Middle School

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Published: Thursday, May 12, 2011 6:38 PM CDT by Greg Eckstrom

Boone Middle School students have been learning about recorders, but the ones they’re used to aren't five feet long and wooden.  Alan Spohnheimer, center, and Dee Dreeszen, right, played a variety of antique instruments for Boone Middle School students on Tuesday, representing the group Musica Antiqua.

On Tuesday, the students learned about some of the instruments that pre-dated Bach and Beethoven from Dee Dreeszen and Alan Spohnheimer – two members of the Iowa State University group Musica Antiqua.

“Musica Antiqua…that word antique kind of means old, and it’s not meant to describe the players, it’s meant to describe the music we play,” Spohnheimer said. “The music we play is from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.”  Spohnheimer is also a musician with the Iowa State University Alumni Band, where he plays the baritone horn.

Dreeszen, who played along with Spohnheimer for the students, is a handbell ringer, directs five choirs at her church and also plays the pipe organ.  “This is a group we started with in 1967 when we were both in college,” Dreeszen said. “It was a new class we were starting. We both had recorders and we thought, ‘Why not?’”

The recorders used by the group are replicas, made to imitate the ones used in the Middle Ages. Spohnheimer said the instruments were made to “match perfection.” “They had to emulate or copy perfection, and back then they thought perfection was shown in the human voice,” Spohnheimer said. “So just like the human voice has different flavors – alto, tenor, bass – likewise, recorders copy that.”

The two musicians introduced the students to several different types of instruments, including the crumhorn, rauschpfeife, gemshorn, and the recorder.

“This is a Renaissance style recorder,” Dreeszen said, holding the instrument next to a recorder the students have used. “The ones you’re playing probably have a little more definition to the shape, and those might be called a Baroque recorder. The difference between the classes of Renaissance and Baroque is in the use that they have for them. You’ll notice in these two, the bore, or the hole that goes down the center, is much larger in the Renaissance than it is in the Baroque.”

The two played several songs with the replica antique instruments for the students, including “Green Sleeves” and “Ring Around the Rosie.”

Alan and Dee at Boone Middle School
Alan showing students a soprano recorder
Alan and Dee playing for the students