Things that the ocarina cannot teach you

There are a number of things that the ocarina cannot teach you. Among the most critical is harmony. As ocarinas are monophonic (only play one note at a time) it is physically impossible for you to learn how the notes sound when played simultaneously.

While harmony can appear superfluous for playing melody, it isn't. Melody and harmony are closely related. Understanding harmony will help you with improvisation, creating your own tunes and allows you to adapt music that goes out of range.

To learn harmony you have to play a polyphonic instrument. An electronic keyboard is ideal because melody and harmony are played using the same set of keys. You can intuitively see how the two are related.

From the ocarinas point of view it is difficult to grasp how the different pitch ranges of ocarinas relate to one another. This is easy to understand relative to the piano. It's 7 and a bit octaves of range encompass most other instruments. Bass ocarinas for instance play in octave register 4 while altos play in register 5. These two ranges overlap by the notes C, D, E and F.

Finally the ocarina cannot effectively teach intonation by itself. Learning to play the ocarina in tune requires an external point of reference. This can be a simple drone pitch or chordal accompaniment. Electronic tuners may also be useful at first to help learn what sharp, flat and in tune sound like.

Playing other instruments is always a valuable exercise as it broadens your perspective. Musicians are often associated with a single instrument, you might say that someone is a pianist, violinist, or guitarist for instance. However I doubt that they would go through there career without trying others.

Playing other instruments is not difficult once you get over the mental barrier and actually start doing it. You don't have to play an instrument well to get value from it. As of the time of writing I use the keyboard for working out harmonies. I'm not good enough to play it in a performance but it is still useful as a tool.

Exercises