54 Easy Tips For The


Ocarina


And Other Small Musical Instruments


The 54 tips are organized into 3 sections:
A. Ocarina Tips For Everyone
B. Ocarina Tips For Children (and teaching children)
C. Ocarina Tips For Advanced Players And Musicians

 

A. Ocarina Tips For Everyone

1. Crawl first, walk next, then run. Even though you progress much more quickly on the ocarina than many other instruments... remember that you must crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run. As do other investments, music provides the greatest returns over the long haul; almost anyone who sticks with it long enough can become an accomplished musician.


One of my favorite ocarina demonstrations on youtube

Since I began playing the ocarina, I have always been able to look back and realize that I was noticeably better than I had been only one year before. On many occasions I have rejected a song as unappealing only to return to it a year or so later and find that it was a gem.

I simply didnt have the skills to make it sparkle the first time around.

On other songs and techniques that are a little over my head, I just keep chipping away, remembering to run through them now and again when I take short ocarina breaks. A few months or a year later, the seemingly impossible song has been transformed into a near-virtuoso performance.

2. Keep a repertoire notebook. Little by little, build a repertoire notebook. After buying the books, assemble a notebook with your favorite songs in it. Having ready access to all your favorites in one book instead of scattered among dozens of others really helps to focus your efforts.

3. Understand what vibrato is. Vibrato is that wavering sound that you hear when a singer or instrumentalist holds a long note on a slow song. Though not hard to learn, vibrato can add a wonderful richness to your tone on certain songs, especially slow ones.

4. Learn to play vibrato.

5. How to play diaphragmatic vibrato. While there are different ways of producing vibrato, the method that I employ is diaphragmatic vibrato. The diaphragm is a muscle that is used for breathing and that separates the thoracic cavity, where the heart and lungs (etc.) are located, from the abdominal cavity, where the stomach and intestines (etc.) are located. When your diaphragm contracts, it flattens downwards, thereby increasing the volume of your chest cavity and causing your lungs to take in air to fill the resulting vacuum. When your diaphragm relaxes, it moves up, forcing air out of your lungs.

The extent of the variation in pitch in instrumental vibrato is decided by the performer, but does not usually exceed a semitone either way from the note itself (more...)

While it frequently functions with no conscious input from you (such as when you sleep), here are some steps you can take to gain control over your diaphragm to produce a nice vibrato. First, place your hand on your stomach and try laughing, "Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha," in a whisper, i.e., without using your vocal cords.

Can you feel your stomach pulsing?

That was your diaphragm propelling air out of your lungs. Now, play a long G note on your ocarina while expelling air in slow rhythmic pulsations with your diaphragm as you did when laughing. After practicing this for a time, eventually begin speeding up your vibrato by tightening your stomach muscles slightly.

Dont expect spectacular results the first or second time you try this. Learning to produce a pleasing, controlled vibrato is not complicated, but it usually requires small amounts of practice over an extended period of time.

6. Listen to talented musicians. Ultimately, the music that you carry in your head is what will flow from your instrument.

Besides practicing regularly, one of the best ways to grow as a musician is by listening to talented musicians perform the kind of music that you want to play. Of course, it takes time, effort, and (gulp!) money to find, acquire, and listen to good music, but it can make an immense difference in your musicianship.

Time and again, I have found new skills showing up in my own playing after listening to skilled musicians do the same; other times I haven't known how to approach a tune until hearing it artfully performed.

7. Put recordings of skilled musicians on your IPod.



8. Use work, exercise, driving time for listening to your musical mentors. Use work, exercise, or driving time to enjoy listening to music that you can learn from. Ultimately, the music that you carry in your head is what will flow from your instrument.




An ocarina is a simple wind instrument
...that can even be made out of broccoli

9. Polish your airway. A smooth airway is vital to good tone.

Although most ocarinas require almost no special care or upkeep, small bits of junk or lint can sometimes accumulate in the airway over time-especially if your cracker-chewing, juice-swigging munchkin has honked on it a few times. Therefore, every once in a great while, you might want to polish the airway to keep it in tiptop playing condition.

To do this, fold a piece of white paper several times to the proper width and thickness, and repeatedly slide the paper in and out of the airway. Be sure not to leave any tiny paper fragments in the airway when you are finished.

10. Find time to practice. How can I find the time to practice? There is no doubt that I experience periods of real growth as a musician whenever I can sit down for an hour or two on a daily basis and play.

Oh, that I could play that much year round!

Nevertheless, for me and many others, taking my ocarina along through daily life and enjoying frequent two to ten minute ocarina breaks has made it possible to keep up with a musical instrument even amidst the awesome responsibilities of adulthood.

11. Playing in Tune with Other Instrumentalists. Whether you are playing an instrument or singing, being in tune with others requires active listening. Usually other instruments can tune to you, but you can raise or lower the pitch of your ocarina by blowing harder or softer. With practice, this becomes more and more intuitive.




Or can be made out of... a carrot

12. Learning to blow unconsciously. After playing the instrument for a time, your brain unconsciously determines the correct airspeed for playing controlled high notes, but in the beginning be sure to blow hard enough so that high notes will not squeak.

On rare occasions, beginners can get caught up in a vicious circle.

They play a high note shyly or timidly and, of course, the note squeaks. Out of shame, they proceed to blow even more timidly with equally disastrous results, thereupon concluding, "High notes are too hard!" All they need to do is blow more forcefully. (On the other hand, if the instrument produces a very high-pitched, irritating blast instead of the desired note, they are blowing too hard. Remember that blast, though, if you ever need to sound an SOS when lost or stranded in the mountains.)

13. Dirty airways and high notes. A reason why beginners sometimes play ragged high notes is that they don't keep their airway clear by sucking out condensed moisture. Novices in general and little ones in particular tend to slobber into the airway much more at first than they will after becoming more proficient.

14. Polish the airway. Because a clear airway is vital to good tone, kids should rinse their mouth with water if playing the ocarina right after eating. Although the ocarina requires almost no care and upkeep, small bits of junk or lint can sometimes accumulate in the airway over time. Therefore, every once in a while, you should polish the airway to keep it in tiptop playing condition.

To do this, fold a piece of white paper several times to the proper width and thickness, and repeatedly slide the paper in and out of the airway. Be sure not to leave any tiny paper fragments in the airway when you are finished. If family members are sharing an ocarina (something that I don't suggest) and there is concern about germs, you can put a drop of rubbing alcohol in the airway as you polish it. Make sure that all the alcohol has evaporated before playing the instrument.

15. Mentally transpose a song by playing by ear. Not infrequently, you will find songs that are playable on the ocarina but that are written outside the ocarinas range. Often you can "mentally" transpose the song by playing it by ear.

Transposition is not difficult to learn. In many situations, however, playing a song by ear is quicker and less tedious than transposing: if you can hum a song by memory, then you can play it by ear.

16. Playing by ear is not as difficult as it may seem. Contrary to what many people I talk to seem to think (and to what I thought a few years ago), playing by ear is not a mysterious innate ability reserved for a gifted few.

It is a skill that improves dramatically with practice, and the ocarina is an ideal instrument on which to develop it.


Learning music by ear is done by repeatedly listening to other musicians and then attempting to recreate what one hears. This is how people learn music in any musical tradition in which there is no complete musical notation (more...)

17. Play a song without looking at the sheet music. As you carry your ocarina along with you, try playing-without looking at a sheet of music-any melody that comes to mind.

18. Experiment when playing by ear. Experiment a little to find the best note to start the song. If you find yourself in an awkward key full of sharps or flats, try starting the song on the note above or the note below.

19. Play "name that tune." Have a friend or family member help you with this. Ask him or her to say the name of a tune... and then you would have to play it by ear. The more you do this kind of thing the more natural it becomes. In turn, the more you can play by ear, the easier it is to play with other musicians and the more you feel like a real musician.

20. Avoid being musically lopsided. Push yourself to both read music and play by ear. Most players favor or are stronger at either playing with music or playing by ear. Both are helpful and useful at different times, for different purposes. Push yourself to do what you're less comfortable with.

21. Play silently. This technique (silent fingering) is performed by putting the ocarina to your mouth and fingering the notes without blowing. What is great is that you can practice silent fingering on an airplane or practically anywhere without disturbing a soul. Another helpful idea is to make yourself a simple set of flash cards.




B. Ocarina Tips For Children

22. Have realistic expectations of your child when learning the ocarina or other instrument. A Preliminary Word to Parents: It is developmentally normal for kids to flit like hummingbirds from interest to interest, hovering briefly to taste of each one before darting off to the next.

Parents must accept that kids will be kids.

Too often have I heard a frustrated parent scold their eager little would-be musician with the words, "I'm not getting you another musical instrument; I already bought you a recorder (guitar, etc.), but you didnt stick with it."

Well, the reality is that most children will stick with music only if the parent does. When I was a little shaver, I almost never practiced my piano unless Mom or Dad prompted me, i.e., made me.

Obviously, it wasnt that I had no true interest in music. My "problem" was that I was still a child. Like most kids, I just naturally gravitated to activities that were easier, more fun, or more relevant in the very short term. Consequently, parents, it is your job to provide the structure, discipline, and encouragement that your children need to receive not only the gift of music but also that of perseverance-a quality that will benefit them throughout life.

23. Be positive. Instead of pouring water on your childs interest in music, try to fan it into flame.

Certainly we must teach our children the joy of being others-centered, to be considerate of those around them; I never let kids march around making loud, annoying blasts on the ocarina. At the same time, I think parents need to go out of their way to celebrate and encourage any little triumph of their fledgling musician. Occasionally I hear a mom say something such as, "I dont let Johnny practice his ocarina in the house any more; he was just always playing that thing!" Another mother in a similar situation will say, "It has been such a blessing having Billy playing hymns around the house all the time." Which child do you think is more likely to continue with music?


If we hold our applause until we hear our child perform beautifully, we may never get the chance. Often kids like something initially just because they are good at it.

24. Motivating children to learn music. Another way of motivating children is to require them to earn certain special privileges, activities, or their allowance by successfully completing weekly tasks, which may include practicing the ocarina, doing chores, reading books, exercising, or whatever your family deems important.

Younger children may respond best to more immediate rewards, i.e., making a snack or computer time or swimming (usually an activity that you would have done anyway) contingent upon completing the practice session.

Just placing a star on a chart can be very reinforcing to some children, not to mention some adults.

25. Learning along with your child. Do I Need to Learn to Play the Ocarina Along with My Children? Well, that depends. Older children may just need help getting started.

Generally speaking, however, the younger the child, the more involved a parent or teacher needs to be.

In the case of smaller children or those with certain special needs, I highly recommend that at least one parent learn along with the child or children. Obviously, your own first hand experience with the ocarina will dramatically improve your ability to teach it. If this sounds overwhelming, consider that the ocarina is much easier to learn than most instruments, and it doesnt take years of practice before you sound good enough to play in public. I speak from experience when I say that sharing an activity like this is very rewarding to both you and your child. Just think of the possibilities of using your music to serve others together as your child matures.

26. How long should my child practice. Practice time can vary dramatically depending on several factors such as age, maturity, interest level, and family priorities.

One possible scenario is to teach your child once a week in a longer session and have them practice five to ten minutes (or whatever you decide) a day during the rest of the week. Because you dont have to put the ocarina together beforehand, or wet a reed, or clean up, or take it apart afterwards, a ten-minute practice session can be very productive, although a half-hour might be more appropriate for older children.

It isn't mandatory to practice everyday; one can progress rapidly by practicing from three to five times a week. If they are so inclined, encourage your children to carry their ocarina with them in a pocket or sheath and play it whenever they feel the urge. While most people who play traditional band instruments dont continue as adults, the ocarina is easy to keep playing all throughout life if you carry it with you.


In conclusion, whatever the number of minutes or practice sessions per week, the key to progress is consistency.

27. Learning to read music. Do they have to start learning to read music from the beginning?

Not necessarily.

Though I have had good success teaching children as young as six to read music, there is no set age for starting, and the parent or teacher must decide if a child is ready. In the case of children whose young age or special needs would make reading music especially difficult, the songs can be learned by singing together. Be warm, affirming, patient, and have lots of fun singing and clapping, singing slow, singing fast, singing loud, singing soft After the child can sing or hum the melody, then you can begin to learn to play it, sometimes just a couple notes at a time and sometimes learning to play only part of a song in one sitting. (How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.)

28. Helping kids to persevere. Something useful to a lot of parents in helping their kids persevere is some type of clear, measurable, written plan.

29. Play follow the leader. A great activity for teaching a pre-reader of music is what I call Follow the Leader. To play Follow the Leader, the parent or teacher plays a note or short series of notes, and then the child must do the same.

At first, use only the notes B, A, and G (the notes introduced in Unit One of the curriculum). Over time, expand the game to include longer strings of notes, then the whole scale, and finally the entire range of the instrument.

This game is fun, easy, and great for improving a childs hole covering, tonal memory, rhythm, confidence, and ability to play by ear. It is also a good way to introduce new songs, piece by piece.

30. Introducing children to "real" music. It is good to introduce "real music," that is, music from sources besides instructional courses, as soon as possible. Although adults or adolescents may complete an entire curriculum before playing from other sources, younger children benefit greatly from playing lots of simpler songs at each level before moving on to more complex rhythms.

In general, the younger the child, the more time and practice that is required to acquire new skills. In addition, letting children pick their own songs from outside sources is both fun and motivating.


The Wee Sing series, Christmas carols, and easier hymns or folksongs are all good sources of music. If they encounter a new note while attempting a song outside the curriculum, help them to use the fingering chart to figure out how to play it. Dont be afraid to leave a curriculum for a while in order to pursue your childs musical interests. For example, maybe your kids only want to learn Christmas carols during the holiday season in preparation for playing at a local nursing home. Enjoy the extended detour and come back to your curriculum when they are ready to move on to the next level.

31. Quick, fun warm up games. It is important to continually reinforce and review concepts that the children have learned in earlier lessons. To do this, I play lots of quick, fun warm up games at the start of a lesson such as the following.

"Draw me a whole note on the B line." (Student quickly draws the five lines of the staff and a whole note on the middle line.)

"Good job! Now, draw me a quarter note. Wow, you did that fast! Now, how long does a quarter note last?" (If asking questions of a group, be sure to require hand raising-or call on students at random-and wait a bit before taking an answer so that all the students have time to formulate a response. If you merely call on the first person who puts a hand up, the slower students dont bother to think since they wont be called on anyway. Try to give everyone an equal opportunity to answer questions.)

While looking at the book together, say, "Point to a quarter note," or, "Show me a half note on the B line," or "Point to a repeat sign," etc. These can all be fun ways of repeating concepts and of teaching to different learning styles.

32. Have fun singing or chanting of rhythm patterns together. Another playful way to teach them to read music is by doing a lot of singing or chanting of the rhythm patterns while keeping the beat through clapping, marching, or pounding on something such as the plastic top of a coffee can or on different percussion instruments.

All musicians, instrumentalists and vocalists, work with rhythm, but in modern music a rhythm section generally consists of percussion instruments, bass and possibly chordal instruments (e.g., guitar, banjo) and keyboard instruments, such as piano. In recent years, music theorists have attempted to explain connections between rhythm, meter, and the broad structure and organization of sound events in music. (more...)

Not only boys but especially boys appreciate ACTIVE, movement-filled participation.

In fact, with young chaps, we sometimes do more chanting and singing than ocarina playing. For instance, I usually have them chant a song with me as a rhythm pattern before they play it on the ocarina. This is done by chanting a long or short monotone syllable (bah, bah, bah) that corresponds to each musical note as we keep the beat by clapping or pounding the table.

Chanting the song in monotone isolates and necessitates the reading of rhythm because students cannot use a familiar melody as a crutch to avoid reading the duration of the notes. Furthermore, after chanting a song in monotone, students are more able to concentrate on where the notes lie on the staff since they have already grasped the rhythm.

33. Silently fingering notes on a song before playing it. Another helpful activity is to have a child silently finger the notes of a song before playing it. In this activity, they put the ocarina up to their mouth and finger the notes as usual, but without blowing.

This forces the reluctant reader of music to actually read the notes instead of playing strictly by ear.

34. Use a trip to the grocery store as an opportunity to reinforce skills. Musical flashcards can be a fun, quick, and motivating way of isolating and reinforcing skills.

Moms or Dads can ask their child(ren) to practice five minutes on the flashcards as they drive to the grocery store together. In fact, its not a bad idea to leave a set on the dashboard of the car to practice a bit during each car ride. Our family frequently uses everyday car trips for this type of thing with wonderful results.

35. What to put on musical flashcards. What should be on the flashcards? Well, whatever area needs reinforcing. For example, on the front of a card, you could draw a whole note and write the questions 1) What is this note called? and 2) How many beats does it last? On the other side of the card you write the answers, i.e., 1) A whole note, and 2) 4 beats. You could copy a rhythm pattern from the book onto a card and write 1) Chant the rhythm pattern 4 times through while clapping, 2) Play the rhythm pattern 4 times on the ocarina, and 3) State the name and duration of each note in the rhythm pattern. You could draw a staff with a half note on the B line, asking them to silently finger the note on the ocarina and to state how long the note lasts. If they are able to and you want to take the time to show them how, the kids could periodically make their own flashcards to deal with any hard-to-remember concepts.

36. Should You Take the Summer Off. You can if you want, but I wouldnt. If you do, be prepared to do a whole lot of review when you start up again. Band teachers know the frustration of kids returning to school who seem to have contracted musical amnesia sometime between June and September. This is especially true of younger children.




C. Ocarina Tips For Advanced Players

37. Learn alternate note fingerings. After becoming confident with the fingerings on the standard fingerings, be open to alternate fingerings when the need arises.

As with many woodwinds, the chromatic notes on the ocarina can usually be fingered in different ways to suit the demands of a particular passage of music. If the idea of alternate fingerings sound confusing, dont fret. Just be aware of the possibilities and come back to it when you feel ready.

38. Learn the difference between a transposing and non-transposing instrument. What is the difference between a transposing instrument and a non-transposing instrument? C ocarinas and pianos are both considered non-transposing instruments.

In other words, when you read and finger a C note, the instrument plays a C note. On the other hand, trumpets (usually Bb instruments), saxophones (usually Bb or Eb instruments), Clarinets (A or Bb instruments), French horns, cornets, mellophones, etc., and G ocarinas are all considered transposing instruments. A Bb trumpet is called a transposing instrument because when a trumpet player reads and fingers a C note, the trumpet actually sounds a Bb; likewise, when a G ocarina player reads a C, the ocarina actually sounds a G.


A transposing instrument is a musical instrument whose music is written at a pitch different from concert pitch. Concert pitch is the pitch as notated for piano (more...)

39. Why music educators teach non-C instruments as C instruments. There are some excellent reasons why music educators have traditionally taught non-C instruments as if they were C instruments. Doing so:

+ puts the musical notes in a reader-friendly place on the musical staff

+ allows one to play a whole family of instruments with only one set of fingerings

+ greatly facilitates the learning of other instruments, whatever their particular key.

40. How can non-C instruments play together? In the case of the ocarina, the comfortable vocal range (the C range) is by far the easiest place to find music, for it is the range of hymnbooks and most books of folksongs.

Nevertheless, a complication arises if a guitarist and a G ocarina player (or a Bb trumpet player, for that matter) want to play together while reading from the same sheet of music.

If they are to produce music and not noise, they must do one of three things.

1) The guitarist can simply pop on a capo to be in the same key as the ocarina player

2) One of the two musicians must transpose the music to be in the same key as the other

3) One of the two must play by ear (Actually, playing by ear is transposing, but the person doing it need not understand the theory involved.)

41. Why you want to be able to play a non-C ocarina as a non-transposing instrument. What are the advantages and disadvantages to learning a non-C ocarina as if it were a C instrument?

While it makes sense to learn to play non-C ocarinas as C instruments first, there are some impressive advantages to also playing the non-C ocarina as a non-transposing instrument, i.e., when you read and finger a G, the ocarina sounds a G.

One significant advantage is that you can now play your G ocarina off the same sheet of music as other musicians without needing to transpose or play by ear, which is especially helpful when you haven't heard the songs before.


Celtic music is a term utilized by artists, record companies, music stores and music magazines to describe a broad grouping of musical genres that evolved out of the folk musical traditions of the Celtic peoples of Northern Europe. (more...)

42. Why playing a G ocarina as a non-transposing instrument is especially useful to Celtic music. The G ocarina is a very useful for playing Celtic music. It has a great range for picking up a lot of flute, pennywhistle, dulcimer, fiddle, bagpipe, and vocal music that is written outside the reading range of a C ocarina.




Multi-chambered ocarinas are difficult
to play with fluidly.
This virtuoso makes it look easy. It's not.

43. How to turn 70 songs into 113. One book that I enjoy has 70 songs that can be played reading as a C instrument, but you pick up another 43 songs if you know how to read as a G instrument. In practical terms, you now have 113 instead of 70 songs that you can play just as they appear in the book.

In fact, playing a G ocarina as a G non-transposing instrument is essential if you are interested in playing Celtic dance tunes, i.e., reels, jigs, etc., in keys that you would hear at an Irish music session. (By drawing from different sources, I have found lots of this type of music that is playable on the ocarina.) Also, finding music for playing a G ocarina in harmony with a C becomes much easier if you know how to play the G as a non-transposing instrument.

44. How to play your G ocarina as a non-transposing instrument. How do you learn to read music with the ocarina as a G instrument?

Before I explain how... you should know that it probably requires less effort to learn than you think.

I felt somewhat comfortable with it after one night.

When you first started, you learned to play the ocarina with a chromatic reading range of B, C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E. Now you will learn the reading range of F#, G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G, A, B (a G major scale has an F# in place of an F). Actually, this new range is twofold. On the one hand, you can start reading on the F# that is three lines below the staff and play up to the middle B, a good range for, say, dulcimer or lower vocal music. Alternately, you can start an octave higher on the first space from the bottom of the staff and play up to the high B, a range where you pick up a lot of fiddle, flute, pennywhistle, bagpipe, etc., tunes. For example, anything that you can play on the highland bagpipes, you can play on the ocarina. (Below is a diagram that illustrates the two G ranges.)

The first step in learning to play your ocarina as a G instrument is to photocopy the diatonic fingerings on whatever fingering chart came with your ocarina.

You might want to copy the chart larger than its actual size.

Next, starting at the top, white out the letter C and the note C that is one line below the staff. Then, write a G in place of the letter C and draw a whole note on the second line from the bottom, which is the G line.

Repeat this step with all the other notes of the G ocarina.

I suggest that you start by learning the upper range first until you are comfortable with it. Then, move on to the lower range, picking up the sharps and flats as the need arises.

Silent fingering is a helpful way to learn new fingerings. This forces you to concentrate on reading the notes and not just letting your ear guide you.

45. Learn Celtic Ornamentation. For those interested in Celtic ornamentation, cuts and rolls are often easier on the ocarina than on the flute, pennywhistle, or bagpipes because ocarinas work on different physical principles than do most wind instruments.

In music, ornaments (or ornamentation) are musical flourishes that are not necessary to the overall melodic (or harmonic) line, but serve to decorate or "ornament" that line. Many ornaments are performed as "fast notes" around a central note. The amount of ornamentation in a piece of music can vary from quite extensive (more...)

For example, a cut can be made by uncovering any tone hole, including a thumb hole, that is covered when the primary note is sounded. This means that crans, double rolls, and other grace notes have a wider number of cutting fingers to choose from.

Similarly, a tap (or strike)-a tap being defined as the second half of a roll, i.e., "a roll consists of a cut and a tap"-can usually be performed with more than just the one finger directly below the primary note. For example, on B, Bb, A, or Ab rolls, you can tap with the right index finger or any other finger on the right hand instead of executing the entire roll with the left hand. Thus, a B roll may be performed-in addition to cutting with the left index and tapping with the left middle finger-by cutting with the left index finger and tapping with the right index or right middle finger.

By the same token, the high C and D are easily rolled by cutting with the left thumb and striking with right index finger. With the exception of the low B and C (which can be nicely cranned) and the highest note, all notes, including sharps and flats, can be easily rolled.

46. Train yourself for blazing tonguing speed. Double tonguing will allow you to tongue certain rapid combinations of notes much faster than is possible using regular tonguing.

Try double tonguing four quick G notes on your ocarina using the syllables tuh, kuh, tuh, kuh (or dugga, dugga). Once your tongue gets used to this, your blazing tonguing speed may amaze you.

Tonguing is when a musician playing a wind instrument uses the tongue on the reed or mouthpiece to enunciate different notes. A silent "tu" (too) is made when the tongue strikes the reed or roof of the mouth causing a slight breach in the air flow through the instrument. (more...)

Double tonguing will allow you to tongue certain rapid combinations of notes much faster than is possible using regular tonguing. Try double tonguing four quick G notes on your ocarina using the syllables tuh, kuh, tuh, kuh (or dugga, dugga). Then try playing the first two measures of "Johnny on the Woodpile." Like this: tukka, tukka, tuh, tuh, tukka, tukka, tuh.

Once your tongue gets used to this... your blazing tonguing speed may amaze you.

47. Why you should adapt songs for the range of your ocarina. There is more beautiful music within the ocarina range than you or I could ever get to in a lifetime. Nevertheless, there are many songs that are slightly outside your ocarinas range that can be adapted without too much difficulty.

48. Play a note either an octave higher or lower. Often, an entire song is playable as written except for maybe a low A (two lines below the staff) at the beginning of a musical phrase. Try playing the low A an octave higher. Sometimes the reverse is true in which case you could play an octave higher.

49. Use an alternative note from a chord variation. If a note is out of range in the middle of a song, try replacing it with a note from the same chord or slightly rearranging the passage. Many times it sounds just fine.

50. Drop or raise an entire section a full octave. Certain songs that I play have entire sections that are too high or too low to play on the ocarina. I just drop or raise that particular passage an octave with very pleasing results.

51. Sit out part of a musical piece. When accompanying other musicians on, say, a reel that covers two octaves, frequently you can play half the song just as written and sit out rest of the piece.

There is no musical law that says that all instruments must play the entire song.


Musical harmony is the use and study of pitch simultaneity, and therefore chords, actual or implied, in music. The study of harmony may often refer to the study of harmonic progressions, the movement from one pitch simultaneity to another, and the structural principles that govern such progressions. (more...)

52. Use harmony to adapt your range. When your ocarina doesn't have the approprate range for a given piece, you can often play some type of accompaniment (harmony) instead of the melody. An understanding of harmony and accompaniment can be very helpful. In a nutshell, be flexible and willing to experiment



53. Wear ear/hearing protectors while practicing. Hearing protectors? This may sound crazy, but I've read on flute and piccolo sites that it is advisable for musicians to use some sort of hearing protection for longer practice sessions. All band and orchestral instruments produce a good bit of volume. Since reading that, I've begun using hearing protection for long indoor sessions.

54. Watch TV when practicing. I read an interview with a world famous violinist, who described how he watched soap operas when he had to practice technical passages for long periods of time. You could also listen to a book on tape or to the radio while playing. Using earbuds under hearing protectors can make it easier to hear the TV/radio. It's very relaxing...






Above all... Have fun! Don't get discouraged. Human nature is funny. We may receive 100 positive comments, but even a single negative comment will stick in our minds and undermine our confidence. Ironically, if we think our playing sounds bad, we then become tense and timid, and our playing suffers even more. Therefore, in the early stages, it might be best to play privately until you have more confidence and your tone and skills develop, which they will.





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