Is the ocarina easy to play?

"Is the ocarina easy to play?" is not a straightforward question to answer. It may or may not be depending on your past experience. If you already play wind instruments and are experienced with relative pitch, then you should find the ocarina quite easy to play.

Newcomers to music often find the ocarina attractive because it looks simple; however, looks are deceiving. While fingering a low 'C', the actual sounded note can vary from A# to E by changing breath pressure. Consequently playing in tune requires good breath control and constant attention to pitch.

I know how frustrating learning music can be as I only grasped it as an adult. It is challenging to get started because many things have to happen simultaneously. For instance to produce a clean sound on the ocarina you have to use the right fingering, make sure the holes are covered correctly, use the right breath pressure and start the air crisply with the tongue. Simultaneously you're considering the next note in the tune as well as the rhythm.

In my opinion an electronic keyboard is the easiest way to get started with music. They are cheap, readily available and the keys have a clear structure which is easy to understand. Pressing the same key always plays the same note. This frees you to learn how melodies and rhythm work. It's also great for beginners as you can play on headphones. You don't need to worry about embarrassing yourself or annoying people.

Music is a skill of many components. Learning your instrument's fingering system is certainly important but there is more to it. Music is a language, it can make people happy or bring them to tears. Understanding all of its nuances including rhythm, stylistic variation and expressive playing is going to take time. Eventually these tasks become subconscious, like walking or talking.

All instruments within the western tradition are based on the same 12 note system. Consequently it is easy to transfer things learned on one instrument to another one. You don't have to play an instrument well to learn from it. Once you understand the basics you will be in a much better position to handle the ocarina's pitch instability.

When approaching a complex problem I find that it's best to just start working on it. At first you have to allow yourself to suck. This is a critical part of the learning process and I promise that you will get better. Don't be tempted to take shortcuts. While shortcuts look easier at first they will lead you down a blind alley. It is easy to get stuck practicing in a way that will never achieve anything.

Every instrument has it's challenges and limitations. Once you start playing the ocarina do work on your intonation. It, and skills like sight reading, get easier with time.

Exercises