In 1983 David Liggins sought out the finest makers of English Ocarinas, John Langley and Terry Riley, and began buying ocarina instruments for his classes to play. Within months, the tunes prepared for his classes became music books and by 1985 the simple terracotta 4-hole Ocarina had, under David’s direction, been transformed into a Concert Set of SEVEN glazed English Ocarinas tuned for Ensemble-playing in Schools and Concert-Halls.
From the massive Great Bass to the tiny Micro, Ocarina Workshop’s English Ocarinas cover a combined range of over four octaves, all with the fingering system and distinctive round shape that has become known worldwide. Consistency of tuning and manufacture from 1985 onwards allowed groups to play in consort with each of the seven Langley concert ocarinas: Micro G, Mini D, Soprano G, Alto D, Tenor G, Bass D and Great Bass G – each suitable for professional as well as school performance.
The first plastic English Ocarinas, the Poly-oc™ were factory formed from ABS plastic and hand-drilled by John Langley and his son from 1988 to 2004. Made in distinctive red and blue, they became obsolete when demand exceeded their manufacturing capability. In 2005 Ocarina Workshop® introduced Rainbow Ocarinas™. The Oc® is made in the UK and has new features to meet the specific needs of class teachers and primary school children. These plastic ocarinas are concert-tuned, robust and great fun to play, matching the singing pitch of ceramic Alto D ocarinas. An ongoing commitment to excellence in mass-producing plastic Ocarinas has been David and Christa’s focus, plus creating new and ground-breaking teaching resources to support class teachers. In 1996 they published an ocarina-making project – it takes about half an hour to make an Ocarina from a single pre-punched piece of card – the Card-oc® really does work and is in tune, from D to D’.
Our ongoing motivation is ‘music for all’ – and now we make one-handed plastic ocarinas, allowing children with the use of only one hand to play the ocarina alongside their classmates. This is facilitated by the one-handed ocarina-charts designed for the Duet Ocarinas™ – these unique and exquisite ceramic double-chambered instruments have two 4-hole ocarinas in a single outer body: each identical chamber gives 11-notes and the accompanying Duet Ocarina Book makes this the easiest of all double ocarina instruments to learn to play in harmony, producing a unique and exciting sound.
In January 1991 David and Christa returned to Chile & Bolivia, re-visiting museums and examining ocarina instruments in order to confirm that the English Ocarina is indeed unique. Whilst the ancient vessel flutes often produce a wonderful sound, the various finger patterns give a maximum of five notes. In June 2003, the ocarina experts presented their collection of over 1,000 historical Ocarinas at Kettering Manor House Museum, in conjunction with publishing ‘The Ocarina: a Pictorial History’ which is a comprehensive guide to Ocarinas and vessel flutes from 1000BC to the present day.