The ocarina is played with a breath rather than a blow. Unlike other wind instruments, the ocarina cannot be overblown. It has no tube, no column of vibrating air and thus no wavelength – just a mass of air vibrating in a chamber. The resulting ocarina acoustics are remarkably pure, with few upper harmonics.

Is playing the ocarina safer than speaking?
In this Ocarina Experiment we try to demonstrate transmission of air when playing an ocarina. This is different to any other instrument, because the ocarina is a chamber, a vessel flute. At a distance of just half a meter from a sheet of tracing paper, the paper moves in response to words being spoken, but stays still when the ocarina is played.

> Ocarinas should not be shared, unless they are thoroughly cleaned between users. Wash hands before and after playing.
> WASH Oc® plastic Ocarinas in warm water; IMMERSE in a dilute solution of sterilising fluid (Milton or equivalent); or PUT IN THE WASHING MACHINE, contained inside a knotted pillow slip. Ocarinas are washed both inside and out and are fine on the spin cycle.
> RINSE and DRY paying particular attention to the finger-holes, as the surface tension of the water can cause a film to close the smallest holes, and then the ocarina will play notes lower than intended until the hole is clear.
> STRINGS should be washed, if ocarinas are shared. The colours are fast but strings will become tangled in the washing machine, unless secured. Using sterilising fluid directly on the strings is not recommended, as this will turn them white.

✓ played with controlled breath, rather than blowing, keeping air disturbance to a minimum
✓ uniquely suited to whole-class music due to lack of upper harmonics
✓ safe in class, so long as all normal hand hygiene is observed
✓ washable and easily sterilised
✓ affordable for all, even when supplied together with self-teaching music books and CDs

Perhaps you could try your own Ocarina Experiment?
Enjoy exploring this website or if you’d like your own ocarina start here.
David Liggins B.Ed hons

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