10 Things I Learning from being an Ocarina Tutor

ocarina pic

So, a bit of a background, I love ocarinas and flute intstruments.  I decided since I have played for years that I would try and pass on my skills, tips and tricks onto other eager ocarina enthusiasts! But I learned a lot:

1) With a society that loves quick results, so many people seem to think it will take only a few lessons for awesome results.  It will take months or years to get amazing results, unfortunately.  This is something I try to explain to my students when we first begin, though most students will think that they can be the next rising star, and this is where most of the problems come from.

2) Most students are only attending to learn that ONE song, forgetting that there are skills, techniques, and that we have to learn those simple songs before we can melt out songs.

3) Everyone has a problem area.  Including myself!

4) To always prepare a variety of pieces for the student to choose from.

5) Yes, I have silly techniques, but yes, I know from my own flute lessons that they DO WORK! And you have to stick by them.

6) All students get frustrated, but it helps to show them the light at the end of the tunnel.

7) Eventually all students think they can do better than you, sometimes they just never show up again, sometimes they turn impatient, and sometimes, just sometimes, you get those special students who will stick through to the end…. and come back for more!

8) Take the chance for odd requests to grow your music stash!

9) Not all students can read music, and will need finger charts/tabs before it clicks in.  But making good notes with cheats can help them learn!

10) Not all students will come out victorious.  But if you can walk away learning something, and knowing they have gained at least ONE thing, hold your head high!


Double Challenge

Double Harmonic Ocarina

A few years ago I purchased a double harmonic ocarina from http://www.songbirdocarina.com . I was very proud, and scared, about this new instrument! I had seen pictures of instruments like this in movies, cartoon, bible excerpts, I was excited! But it took me months to even try it, and months again to even make it sound good.

The biggest fault I found was with myself.  I felt I could never show this to others, as they wanted to hear it, and I didn’t think I was worthy of that honor.  Finally, after much encouragement from my friend who plays piano with our church, I brought it out, and played Amazing Grace infront of our group one sunday.

It went….

Great! I was asked to play it again and again!

And I have been asked to play again in two months, by then I hope to be even better 🙂

It’s a Bird! It’s a plane! No, its ‘Super’ Ocarina!

I have fallen for the ocarina.  Its a neat little chambered instruments, that because of its rigidity comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes, tunes, and colors.  It can be an amazing what finds you can dig up, of ocarinas that are decades old, homemade decadents, or even artistic pieces.  But sometimes, you find a twist in something that really makes you shake your head.

Now, a lot of the ocarina love comes from a Zelda game called Ocarina of Time, where a young boy uses a magical ocarina to change times, summon his horse, call his friend, or warp to certain points of the map.  Its amazing! So a lot of the gamers, collectors and nerds starting finding Zelda ocarinas IRL (in real life) so they too could be as magical as Link and Zelda.  More love comes from flute players who are in love with the basics of flute history, with its cousin the Xun and various other instruments as such (over twenty varieties if you wish to start with the basics, possibly hundreds of different types after that!)

Now, there are few great sellers in this western hemisphere who can cater to your ocarina collecting needs, my favorite being http://www.songbirdocarina.com . This site is smaller and has more unique items that are affordable, my favorite being the double harmonic that is so challenging but greatly fun to learn!

Now, there is another site that is more towards the market needs, and towards what they think the consumer will charge for.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I have ordered from their site, like their Zelda rupee ocarina and their teacarina! But one thing that shocks me, is their superhero ocarina.  http://www.stlocarina.com/suoc.html with their caption ‘awaken your inner hero’. You can choose from five ocarinas that have a cover of Thor, Spiderman, Captain America, Wolverine, or Iron Man.  But what have they to do with the ocarina, or a flute? Nothing.  Zip. So why does this supplier have the idea to market super heroes on this tradition instrument that in the past decades has never been commercialized? They are trying to hit a new generation that has been taken by storm by the hero’s of today. Sounds like a great idea, but at the same time, this traditional loving musician doesn’t understand it.   I may be one of the view too, as most of these super hero ocarinas are out of stock, screaming that this ploy is working.  I wonder if in years to come it will be more popular to have a Thor ocarina, than to understand where it all started?


Ring Flute Review

I am a bit of a fanatic when it comes to flutes and flute like instruments, and have been collecting, and trying to get others onto my obsession.  I recently found on ebay.ca a ring flute, which got my attention until I saw the price tag of a few hundred dollars.  Ugh, I may be a collector but I am not unfortunately rich.  Well, I started scrubbing around and found a site, well sort of poorly put together, but it told a great story of how this ring flute came to be. http://www.ringflute.com/about.htm So I contacted them, looked up some videos, and heard it out, and decided that it was an item that I would like to add to my collection, so I purchased a simple plastic one.  Now, usually I am not one for plastic, as I find the sound is diminished by the sound of a plastic whistle compared to a wooden, ceramic, metal or glass, but if the alternative is paying 200$+ for an instrument I may not even like, well… 40$ sounds fair to try out something most people have not heard of.  I also have collected a hulusi, where I bought it made from ceramin, which again its not porcelain like some of the others ones or made by an expensive true artist, but it still is fun to play and I found it for only $15. But, back to the ring flute.


So it finally came in the mail, and to my delight it didn’t play to badly! Yes it sounded airy, but as I started playing with it and my embouchure and it started sounding alright! The notes don’t tend to follow my typical favored scales of C4 – C6, but its such a romantic sounding instrument that I have been having fun making tunes, just having trouble trying to chart out music for it.

So, if your up for trying out something new, check it out, or look up some videos, look up the story!

Ocarina and Flute Love

ocarina pic

In our town we have a little dramatic group that hosts two shows, one for spring, one for Christmas. Usually these shows are the delight of our small town, with people being able to show off their skills, and supporters being able to have a cultural night out.  This year, I am going to attempt to audition, with my flute, and possibly, my ocarina.

I have been a collector of random musical flute like instruments for the past few years. I have a flute that is intermediate, being that it is open hole and being able to be tuned.  In my search I have obtained numerous ocarinas, being sopranos, whistle like, altos, six hole, a double harmonic, a triple and one big brass one.  Most are in the key of C but one special one is in the key of G.  I also have collected a glass flute, a jade flute, a bamboo flute and a tin whistle.  Along those lines are a fife, a recorder or two, an organ, a harp lyre, a xun, and a hulusi.

Although I have collected and love all these instruments, I have also been in search of those I can teach.  I do enjoy my instruments and now and trying these year to gain more than the two students I collected last year!

I love making music, and one of the stories I found about the dragon tooth ocarina, makes me realize that the love of music isn’t something to be held down to four walls and a sheet holder.  I do hope to push for gathering some interest in this small town, not for money sake but for the experience and to earn a foot hold as a music instructor!

Excuse me, I realized I strayed from my point 😀 I was trying to say that I am going to try out (if I don’t get too shy) and see if I can make a mark in the cultural group in this town and earn a spot to be a public flutist and earn some interest! I would say wish me luck, but more I am also looking for other ocarina lovers or interested persons.