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Top 10 Questions to Ask When Choosing an Ocarina

by Jada Rose

You've decided that you are going to buy an ocarina. Now the question is which one to choose. With so many ocarinas to choose from, in different shapes and sizes, made of clay or wood or plastic, some with four holes and others with twelve... with so many possibilities choosing the right one can be difficult. Ask yourself the following ten questions. When you can answer them, you are ready to make your decision.

Triple Ocarina

1. What kind of music do you want to play with your ocarina? If you want to play simple, slow melodies then most ocarinas will work. If you want to play fast and technically challenging music, most will not work. Make sure you hear sound samples of the ocarinas you are considering, and make sure they can play the kind of music you want to play.

2. How far (musically) do you want to go with your ocarina? Do you want something to entertain you for a few weeks? Or do you want a serious instrument that will let you progress to advanced levels of musicianship? If you want to go far musically and will put in the practice necessary to get good, get an ocarina that you won't grow out of... that will let you progress to virtuosity.

3. Do you like the way it sounds? Have you heard this ocarina in a live performance? Probably not... but do you at least have you recordings to give you an idea of their sound?

4. Where would you like to play your ocarina? Do you expect to play for others? Will you perform publicly? Do you wish to be able to play with other musicians without needing microphone amplification? The majority of ocarinas are quiet and subdued. A few ocarinas have good playing volume and could readily be played in public without needing amplification.

5. How do you like the way it looks? If you think your ocarina is stunning, you will very likely carry it more, show it to family and friends more, play it more, progress farther and faster, and enjoy it much more.

6. What style of ocarina do I want, transverse or inline? Ocarinas come in two basic styles, inline and transverse. Transverse ocarinas (like the sweet potato) are played like a Boehm flute where the flute is held at a perpendicular angle to the head. Inline ocarinas are played like a recorder or clarinet where you would blow into the length of the flute. I find that the inline style is more comfortable when playing for extended periods of time.

7. Do you want a wood, clay, plastic or metal ocarina? Some thoughts. Clay is can crack or shatter if dropped. Nice wood ocarinas are beautiful. Metal ocarinas are uncommon, but some are noticeably stunning. There are many cheap plastic ocarinas... toys. Some plastic ocarinas, however, are top quality instruments made of high tech plastics like polycarbonate.

8. How much materials (music books, learning materials, music recordings, etc.) are available for the ocarina you are considering? How much help will you want in learning to play? Remember that the ocarina has limited tonal range. Sheet music and music books must fit into the range of that particular ocarina. Make sure that there are enough products to support your progress for the ocarina that you are considering.

9. Are you a big fan of the video game Zelda The Ocarina of Time? You might want an ocarina like the one Link plays.

10. Where will your ocarina go? Does your ocarina need to fit in your purse or pocket? Do you need to be able to hang it around your neck? Will you take it caving or rock climbing? Not all ocarinas are created equal as far as portability goes. Clay ocarinas can shatter. Big ocarinas won't readily fit in your purse or pocket.

Jada Rose is a zealous ocarina enthusiast who has been playing ocarinas for over five years. Jada's personal favorite is her chromatic wood ocarina in the key of "G". She especially loves the sound, easy fingering and great playing volume of her Mountain Ocarina.

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