Learning how to play the ocarina is the easiest of all Peruvian wind instruments. Small and decorated with hand-painted scenes or animals, the ocarina looks more like an ornament than a musical instrument. As you start to learn how to play the ocarina, you’ll be soothed by the muted sound of air passing through clay, and to make learning truly easy, consider beginning with the smallest ocarina, with 4 holes and this tutorial to guide you. You’ll be able to play the ocarina within a few minutes.
Step #1: Position the Ocarina in Your Mouth
At the narrow end of the ocarina you’ll find the hole for your mouth. Open your mouth slightly, rest the ocarina’s mouthpiece on your lower lip, then close your mouth around it. To play the ocarina tilt is slightly down, as this will open the airway to the mouthpiece.
Step #2: Create a “Do”
The musical scale begins with “Do” and when you learn how to play the Ocarina you’ll find this tone easiest to make. Position your fingers comfortably to block all 4 holes, with the thumb blocking the hole below. Then blew into the Ocarina mouthpiece as if you are trying to whistle. A soft, soothing sound will emerge. To play a high “Do” (from the end of the musical scale) release all your fingers. The harder the blow the louder you’ll play the Ocarina.
Step #3: Create Other Notes
As you learn how to play the ocarina you’ll need to develop tactile memory of the position of the holes in relation to their finger. By lifting one finger at a time, you’ll be playing a different note each time. By lifting two fingers at a time, you’ll be playing the rest of the notes on the musical scale. Playing the Ocarina is easy at this point, and within a few minutes you will be whistling out soft, soothing sounds.
Step #4: Develop Agility
Now that you’ve discovered the different notes you can play on the ocarina, practice them in a rising scale so as to train each finger to hover over its hole then come down again to seal it tightly. To play the ocarina well your fingers will need to develop positional memory, much as the fingers of a pianist must when finding the right key. This isn’t hard; only patience is required to learn how to play the ocarina well.
Step #5: Play a Tune
Make it fun to develop agility by play a simple tune. Let’s say you wish to play “Happy Birthday to You” on the ocarina. Begin with 2 low “Do’s” then blow a “Re” and go back to “Do”. Just practice these 4 notes for a while. Then continue figuring out the next note by listening to the whistle that comes out as you play the ocarina. (Happy Birthday opening notes are: Do, Do, Re, Do, Fa, Mi / Do, Do, Re, Do, Sol, Fa)
The best part of learning how to play the ocarina is its small size. Shove the ocarina in your pocket and go somewhere beautiful like a waterfall or open field. Learn how to play the ocarina the way Peruvians have done for thousands of years, in the arms of mother nature.
For more musical tutorials from the same musical author, discover her piano tutorial that will teach you the basics of reading music sheets and playing piano.