The North American Virtual Recorder Society (NAVRS) will soon celebrate its one-year anniversary and what an amazing year it has been! What started as a seed of an idea in the Summer of 2021 has grown into a vibrant and enthusiastic Chapter of the American Recorder Society.  We received our official status in January 2022 and recognition as a 501c3 not-for profit organization in April.  

NAVRS opened its virtual doors to recorder players at large with a sample playing session in December 2021.  It attracted more than 100 people, signaling a deep interest in virtual playing experiences. While NAVRS was initially an idea that grew out of the pandemic as a safe space for players who weren’t comfortable meeting others in person to play together, it continues to also meet the needs of those who don’t live near an ARS chapter or consort, those who for whatever reason are unable to meet with other players, and those who simply want more playing time.  

Our membership has grown over the past year to 160 and currently represents 36 U.S. states and 4 Canadian Provinces. We meet every month and have so far held 12 monthly meetings led by some of the finest recorder professionals on the continent. We have also provided our members with two free educational sessions; “How to Care for your Recorder” with Tom and Barbara Prescott and “How to Build a Music Library” with Eric Haas.  In the works for our second year will be additional monthly workshops, aimed at particular playing levels and on more focused topics. 

Rachel Begley is NAVRS’ music director, and one of her goals is to provide members with an opportunity “to experience the joy of having different music leaders,” something that’s clearly appealing to those attending the playing meetings.  Each playing meeting features a different teacher, each with their own style, interests and use of technology, and this makes for an engaging series of playing and learning experiences.   Although the music is the focus of our monthly sessions, we found that members really enjoy the “breakout room” discussions we have at every meeting. We open the Zoom link at 1:30pm ET to allow people time to chat in the breakout rooms which allow for a more personal conversation in a small group setting prior to the playing. They help to keep the social portion of the meeting small and intimate so that a real sense of community develops, just as might occur in a non-virtual recorder chapter. These are a huge hit with the members as they provide time to get to know one another and to discuss anything from our personal recorder history to technique, skills, music libraries, and practice hints. 

We’re currently planning our 2nd year and want to add to what has worked so well so far. With plenty of ideas for new programs to expand the playing and learning opportunities for our members, as well as to promote the recorder and to fulfill our educational mission, our 2nd year is shaping up to be even more dynamic than our first! 

NAVRS membership dues have been purposely kept low at $20, with an additional playing meeting fee of $15 (also comparatively low) so that members have flexibility in choosing which ones they want to attend without being charged for sessions they don’t attend. These will remain the same for 2023. In addition, we offer an additional discount: when members pay for the 12 sessions in full, they will get 12 sessions for the price of 10 or $150, which amounts to a $30 savings. 

We’re excited about our second year and invite you to join us. NAVRS welcomes recorder players from across North America who would l like to join us for a virtual playing meeting on a Saturday afternoon at 2 pm Eastern time, or who would like to participate “with us” in their own time via the recordings we make of every session, accessible on-demand to anyone who registers for the event for a month afterwards.   

For more information about NAVRS, see its website at NAVRS.org