Learn to Play Ocarina: A Guide for Beginners

  • Mulki Sulaeman
  • Jan 24, 2023
Learn to Play Ocarina: A Guide for Beginners

What is an Ocarina?

The ocarina is a musical instrument that falls under the category of wind instruments. It’s essentially a small handheld flute that has four to thirteen finger holes (depending on the model) and produces a beautiful, soft sound that is easy on the ears.

Did you know that the ocarina is a multi-cultural instrument that originated in ancient China? The Chinese made ocarinas out of clay and called them xun. Eventually, these instruments spread to other parts of the world, most notably Japan, where they were given a new name: the tsuchibue.

The ocarina gained its modern name during the 19th century when it became popular in Italy. At that time, people began producing ocarinas out of ceramic, and the name ‘ocarina’ was derived from the Italian word for ‘goose’, which was thought to resemble the shape of the instrument.

If you’ve never picked up an ocarina before, don’t worry! It’s a fun and easy instrument to learn.

Choosing the Right Ocarina

If you’re interested in playing the ocarina, the first step is to choose the right type of ocarina for your needs and skill level. Here are some tips to help you make an informed choice:

1. Determine your skill level: Consider your current level of experience with music and wind instruments. If you’re a beginner, look for an ocarina that’s easy to play and has a limited number of holes. If you’re more experienced, you can opt for a more complex ocarina with additional holes and keys.

2. Choose a material: Ocarinas can be made from a variety of materials, each with its own unique sound and feel. Common materials include ceramic, plastic, and metal. Ceramic is a popular choice for its warm, earthy sound, while plastic and metal are more durable and easier to maintain.

3. Consider the shape: Ocarinas come in a variety of shapes, including round, egg-shaped, and teardrop-shaped. The shape can affect the sound and playability of the instrument, so it’s important to choose one that feels comfortable in your hands and produces the tone you’re looking for.

4. Pay attention to the tuning: Ocarinas come in different tunings, including C, G, and D. The tuning can affect the range of notes that the instrument can produce, so choose one that fits the type of music you want to play.

5. Check the quality: Quality is important when it comes to ocarinas, as it can affect the sound and durability of the instrument. Look for an ocarina that’s well-made with no cracks or chips, and that produces a clear, consistent tone across all of its notes.

By considering these factors, you can choose an ocarina that’s right for you and start playing your favorite tunes in no time. With practice, you can master this beautiful instrument and share your music with others.

Learning the Basic Fingerings

If you’re new to playing the ocarina, there are some basic fingerings that you need to learn. Familiarizing yourself with these fingerings is essential to developing your skills and progressing to more advanced techniques.

Before you start playing, it’s important to know that the ocarina is a wind instrument, which means you will need to control the air that flows through it. Unlike other wind instruments, the ocarina has a unique fingering system, which can make it challenging for beginners to learn.

The first step to learning the basic fingerings is to practice the ocarina scales. This will help you get a better understanding of its tonality and prepare your fingers for the more advanced techniques. The ocarina has different fingerings for each note, with some requiring the use of multiple fingers. It can take some time to get used to the finger movements, so be patient and persistent.

One of the best ways to learn the basic fingerings is to watch ocarina tutorial videos. These videos are easily accessible online and can provide you with a visual guide on finger placement and movement. You can also try practicing with sheet music or tablature, which will help you learn the fingerings for specific songs.

Another thing to keep in mind while learning the basic fingerings is to practice good posture. The ocarina is a small instrument, so it’s easy to hunch over while playing. This can lead to discomfort and even injury in the long run. Make sure to sit up straight and hold the ocarina firmly against your lips.

If you’re struggling with the fingerings, don’t worry. It’s normal to make mistakes and struggle at first. Just keep practicing and take breaks when you need to. With time and patience, you’ll improve your technique and be playing beautiful tunes on your ocarina in no time.

Playing Songs on the Ocarina

Playing songs on the ocarina can be both fun and challenging. Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Choose Simple Songs

It’s important to choose simple songs when you’re first starting out. Look for songs that have few notes and don’t require complex fingerings. Some popular songs to start with include “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and “Happy Birthday.”

2. Practice One Section at a Time

When you’re learning a new song, don’t try to play the entire thing all at once. Instead, break it down into sections and practice each one separately. Once you’ve mastered one section, move on to the next one. This will help you avoid frustration and make learning the song more manageable.

3. Practice with a Metronome

A metronome can be a helpful tool when you’re practicing songs on the ocarina. It will help you keep a steady beat and stay in rhythm. Start with a slow tempo and gradually increase it as you become more comfortable with the song.

4. Experiment with Dynamics

Playing songs on the ocarina isn’t just about hitting the right notes. It’s also about playing with dynamics. Experiment with varying the volume and intensity of your playing to add depth and emotion to your performance.

5. Record Yourself

Recording yourself playing songs on the ocarina can be a helpful way to monitor your progress and identify areas for improvement. Listen to your recordings and evaluate your playing. Take note of any mistakes or areas where you can improve and work on those in your practice sessions.

Playing songs on the ocarina can be challenging, but with practice and patience, you can become a skilled player. Remember to start with simple songs, practice one section at a time, use a metronome, experiment with dynamics, and record yourself to track your progress. Above all, have fun and enjoy the process of learning to play this unique and beautiful instrument!

Tips for Improving Your Ocarina Playing

Playing an ocarina may look simple, but there’s a lot more to this underrated musical instrument than meets the eye. If you want to improve your ocarina playing skills, you need to practice consistently and follow these tips:

1. Perfect your posture

Having the right posture when playing your ocarina is important. Make sure you sit up straight and hold your ocarina in a comfortable position. Your wrists and fingers should be relaxed and loose to avoid any unnecessary tension while playing. Keep your elbows close to your body and avoid hunching over your instrument. This will help prevent pain and discomfort, allowing you to play for longer periods without fatigue.

2. Focus on your breath control

Breath control is a crucial aspect of playing the ocarina. You need to make sure you have enough air in your lungs to play smoothly. Before starting to play, take a deep breath and fill your lungs. Try exhaling slowly and steadily, making sure you don’t run out of air before the end of a phrase. Keep practicing until you can hit every note perfectly in tune and with a consistent sound.

3. Practice your fingering technique

Fingering is one of the most important aspects of playing the ocarina. You need to make sure you are hitting the right notes at the right time. You can use your fingertips or your fingernails on the finger holes to get the sound you’re looking for. Practice moving your fingers from one note to another quickly and accurately. You’ll be able to play any song you want with ease if your finger technique is spot on.

4. Experiment with different ocarinas

There are different types of ocarinas available in the market. Each one has its own unique sound and playing style. Experiment with different sizes and materials to see what works best for you. You may prefer one over another depending on the type of music you want to play or the size of your hands. Find the perfect fit and sound to get the most out of your ocarina playing.

5. Join an ocarina community or group

Playing the ocarina can be a solitary activity, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many ocarina communities and groups online where you can connect with other players and learn new techniques and songs. Joining a group can help you stay motivated and inspired, and it can also give you the opportunity to perform and share your music with others. Find a community or group that suits your interests and take your ocarina playing to the next level.

With consistent practice and these tips in mind, you’ll find yourself improving your ocarina playing skills and enjoying the process. Keep at it, and before you know it, you’ll become a master at the ocarina.

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