If you ask most people what an ocarina is, you’ll get one of three responses. The vast majority will respond with a blank stare. Video game fans will immediately reference the mysterious musical instrument featured in the popular video game The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time. And a very minute number of people, usually either musicians or those with a vast knowledge of trivia, will know that the ocarina is, in fact, an actual musical instrument that comes in different sizes and pitches and can be both one of the easiest and one of the most challenging instruments to play.
Recently, I received a box of ocarinas and instruction books from STLOcarina.com. To say I was surprised to receive a large box marked “ocarinas” would be an understatement, but I was also delighted and I took the box home and opened it up eagerly. The ocarinas inside were absolutely beautiful and I was thrilled to see that there were also two detailed lesson books and some small instructional booklets so that I could start playing my ocarina right away.
One of the beautiful things about this instrument is that it doesn’t require a whole lot of work or practice to start playing. Unlike a trumpet, a clarinet or most other wind instruments, no special mouth position is required; the ocarina is essentially a whistle. But thanks to the holes in the whistle, the ocarina can be used to play full scales just by altering the position of the fingers!
Now I must confess, I have some experience with musical instruments. I played both clarinet and saxophone when I was in high school, so one quick glance at the 12-hole ocarina was enough for me to know where my fingers should go. I used my thumbs to cover the two holes on the bottom of the ocarina and my fingers to cover the eight largest holes on the top. I blew into the mouthpiece and was rewarded with a lovely low note. By lifting my fingers one by one starting with the pinkie of my right hand, I was able to play a complete scale with ease.
I also read through the instruction books to help beginners learn to play the instrument. I really appreciated the tips about how to care for the instrument properly, and I loved the fact that the book covered not just the fingering positions, but also the basics of reading music so that even somebody with no past musical experience could learn to play complex melodies.
I really like how versatile the ocarina is. It’s challenging enough to be a fun instrument for an experienced musician, but simple enough that even a young child can easily learn to play some simple tunes. I showed Zackary how to place his fingers over the holes and then let him try playing the ocarina as well. I was amazed at how many notes he managed to play as he lifted his fingers randomly on the instrument!
STLOcarina.com has an incredible selection of ocarinas in various sizes ranging from small six-hole ocarinas to double and triple ocarinas. There are even ocarina necklaces and teacups! The site also offers a wonderful assortment of instructional books for both children and adults.
I have had such a good time learning to play the ocarina, and after a few weeks of practice I can now play some of my favourite little songs as well as some children’s songs that both boys love. My husband is so impressed by the instrument that he has claimed the instruction book and the largest ocarina as his own and is beginning to learn to play as well. Like Zackary, he loved how easy it was to start playing. Learning a musical instrument helps develop patience, creativity and problem-solving skills, and the ocarina is the perfect way to begin the musical journey. Check out STLOcarina.com and see for yourself how much fun the ocarina can be!
Buy It: To purchase any of the beautiful ocarinas from STLOcarina.com, shop online now
Win It: One very lucky reader is going to win a children’s six-hole ocarina and The Art of Ocarina for Kids instructional book, a $42 value, from STLOcarina.com
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Giveaway ends 11:59 pm CST on April 15, 2011. Open to US and Canada