Why you need a mentor when learning the ocarina
Whether you are playing the ocarina for fun, or have aspirations of becoming a professional player, finding a ocarina mentor is one of the easiest things you can do to improve your enjoyment of the instrument. And save yourself a huge amount of time.
Many people learn the ocarina by themselves, and are quite self motivating, but that does not mean that you cannot benefit from some guidance. An ocarina mentor will watch you play, and make suggestions about how you can improve. They may give you some exercises to work on, but ultimately you have control of your progression.
When do I need a mentor?
I recommend finding an ocarina mentor as soon as you start playing the ocarina. You can learn a lot from a video ocarina lesson, but unless you spend a lot of time studying common mistakes, it can be impossible to know what you are doing wrong. A video cannot comment on your hand position, or say that you are playing out of tune.
An ocarina mentor would point out these things to you immediately, when they could take months, or even years to notice by yourself. Both me and my partner have done mentoring sessions with people, and students have made significant progress within only an hour. It has saved them so much time.
Additionally, a mentor can guide you towards more effective learning approaches, practice approaches, and offer you encouragement when you are struggling. they will also be able to expose you to new kinds of music which you may not have found otherwise.
Don't be scared of reaching for ocarina mentors even if you are playing for your own enjoyment. Having good fundamental skills will make everything else you do so much easier, and increase your enjoyment long term.
How to find a mentor?
Due to the geographic dispersion of ocarina players, you would be lucky to find a mentor who is close to you physically, and even if you could, your choice would be very limited. Thus you will want to look for someone who you can work with remotely over the internet, using skype, facebook video chat, zoom or similar.
As a beginner, almost anyone with more experience than you could offer useful advice. So you could start by just asking an online ocarina community if anyone could do a video chat to demonstrate basic techniques.
You could also post a video of your playing in a community, but be prepared for people to make suggestions. Don't take these too negatively as they are trying to help you, not attack you.
Better players who are looking to improve will naturally need to be more picky about who they choose to work with. Here are some suggestions for finding a mentor in that case:
- Reach out to players you admire. Even if they do not actively promote themselves as such, many ocarina players are willing to mentor students if asked.
- Search for terms like 'ocarina mentor'. There are some people who actively promote themselves as ocarina mentors online. To get a sense of their skill, look for reviews.
- Look for teachers of similar instruments. While they won't understand the specifics of the ocarina, they will be able to help you with things like music theory, sight reading and ear training.
Don't be discouraged if you don't get on with the first mentor you contact. Different people specialise in different genres of music, and play music for different reasons. You need to find someone who matches your own values.
While the ocarina has recently been viewed as an instrument one can self teach, I hope that you can now see the value of having a mentor.
Having a mentor will help you get past the absolute beginner stage way faster, which will give you the freedom to approach more interesting and diverse music, increasing your enjoyment of the instrument.
Find a mentor and avoid wasting time struggling by yourself.