People are always searching for new hobbies and activities to occupy their time with. Maybe they lost interest in something and wanted to replace it, or maybe they just have more time on their hands. A lot of these people, young or not, choose to learn to play a new instrument. I think it’s a great hobby that can entertain. Plus, learning a new skill, either you need it or not, is always good and can make you a better version of yourself.
One of the instruments that are relatively easy to learn how to play is a melodica. Not many people have ever heard of it. But the fact is that the melodica is more popular than you think.
What is a melodica?
A melodica holds a lot of similarities with a harmonica, only that it comes with keyboards on top. The keyboard is two or three octaves long. Melodicas are small, very light, and they are commonly used in music education, mainly in Asian countries. It is also known as a pianica, blow-organ, and key-flute.
The melodica is also similar to a flute, except for the keys that can play various notes. It sounds more like a harmonica or and accordion. Originally, it was created by Hohner, a German company that is famous for manufacturing wind instrument. After all, the melodica is a wind instrument.
How does it work?
To play the melodica, you blow air through the mouthpiece located at the side of the instrument, while you press the keys. Each time you press a key, a hole opens and allows the air to flow through vibrating reeds. And that is how a melodica makes a sound.
Types of melodicas
The melodica is classified according to the number of keys. You can choose from one of the following:
- 24-keys – this one is considered a bass melodica because it doesn’t have the range of soprano or tenor melodica
- 32-keys – which is perfect for music students
- 37-keys – this one has full three octaves and is considered the best for performances. An octave has 12 notes (5 black and 7 white)
- 44-keys – they are not as sought as the other ones, and is not so easy to play. It adds another 7 keys to the standard 37 keys on a professional instrument.
There is another classification of the melodicas, and that is according to their range. There are soprano, alto, tenor, bass, and the accordina. However, the soprano, alto, and tenor are the most commonly used.
- Soprano and alto – they are pretty small sized, but they make high pitched sounds. The keys play the higher end of the piano scale. You need both hands to play it.
- Tenor – this makes low-pitched sounds, and you only need one hand to play the keys.
- Bass – they are not so common, and they are larger in size than the other ones. It’s also a little bit more expensive, and it has only 24 keys (the lower octaves).
- Accordina – this one has buttons instead of keys. It may not be a melodica per se, but it is often called that way.
The advantages of a melodica
There is a number of reasons why people love playing the melodica. I suppose it has about the same benefits as playing any other musical instrument, but the melodica has gained some popularity over the last few years. Here is why.
- It is not difficult to learn to play That is the primary reason why music teachers teachthe basics of theory, harmony, and chord formation by using a melodica. It is ideal for beginners who want to learn the basics of music, or for those who want to play a more challenging instrument in the future but they want to start low.
- If you play the piano, chances are you already know how to play the harmonica. Yes, it sounds different, but one more instrument in your portfolio is not bad. However, since the melodica is a wind instrument and the piano is a chord one, you are going to have to learn to control your breathing.
- It’s very small, which makes it ideal for traveling. It is portable, so you can take it with you anywhere, at school, in the park, or when you go on vacation. Some people carry around their guitar; you can carry the melodica.
- Unlike most wind instruments like the flute or clarinet, which can play one note at a time, the melodica can actually produce single notes, chords, sharps, and flats.
- It can be used in an orchestra, but it does just as well as a solo instrument. Believe it or not, people use these in bands, and they sound a lot better than I initially thought.
- It soundsgood on its own, but it sounds even better when there are other instruments involved in the performance. It blends in perfectly.
- There is more than one way to play it. Some people prefer to play it in the traditional manner, but some of them like to place the keyboard horizontally on a table. Fortunately, there is something called a flexible tube that allows you to use the melodica from a distance. You know how the melodica has the mouthpiece at one end of the keyboard. You add an extension to it. That will allow you to place the melodica on a table and play it as if it were a miniature piano.
What to consider when buying a melodica
As far as this aspect is concerned, there isn’t much to tell. There are few things that you should determine, though. The first one would be the number of keys. You must decide which number of keys you want to play. If you are looking just for an extra hobby, then the best choice for you would be the 32-key or the 37-key melodica. Don’t forget about the range, although I doubt you’ll want to play the bass melodica as a mere hobby.
Then, another thing that you must consider is the way you want to play it. I mean if you want to hold it in your hands or if you want to place it on a table and play it horizontally. This is important because not all available models can be played that way. It must be designed in such a manner that you can extend the mouthpiece. I am talking about the flexible tube here.
If you are looking for extra features, all you have to do is search. There are brands that offer something extra, like a carrying case or multiple mouthpieces.
What are the best melodicas?
My tendency is to say that the melodicas created by Hohner are the best because this manufacturer was the first one to release this musical instrument on the market. However, many things have changed since its initial release, and other brands can now manufacture high-quality melodicas. That is why I am going to talk about a Hohner instrument, but I will also include another two brands that did an excellent job at producing the best melodicas.
Hohner 32B Piano Style Melodica
This melodica is manufactured by Hohner, the German company I was telling you about. But just because the brand is famous, that doesn’t mean its melodica isn’t a high-quality instrument. The company didn’t give up on its high standards just because it got famous. As a result, this particular melodica is one of the best sellers.
The range for this one is over two and a half full octaves for soprano and alto. Pay attention to this detail. If you are looking for bass or tenor, then I advise you search some more. It has 32 keys, starting with F below middle C. This model is the ideal melodica for people who are just about to start learning to play it. That doesn’t mean the professionals can’t use it, though. Actually, a lot of people who play in a band use this model.
The Hohner melodica does not come with a flexible tube, so you are going to have to hold it in your hands while playing. When you make the order, you will also receive a deluxe carrying case, a mouthpiece, and a few instructions that will tell you how to use and maintain it. I really like the included carrying case. After all, you put this instrument in your mouth, so you need to protect it from dust or other contaminants that can ultimately harm you. A cover case is a perfect solution.
D’Luca M37-BK Key Melodica with Case
Remember how I told you earlier that the 37-key melodica is the most commonly used by both professionals and beginners? This model is exactly that. It has 32 piano style keys and is very easy to handle. If you have just found out about the melodica and decided that you want to give it a shot, then this instrument is precisely what you are looking for.
The package will arrive with the melodica, a zipper carrying case, a mouthpiece, and an extension hose. Carrying case is not as elegant and as durable as the one the Hohner melodica comes with, but it will do it job. It prevents dust and other things from contaminating your melodica, so the purpose is met. The thing that the Hohner model doesn’t have, though, is the flexible tube. That will allow you to use the melodica as a piano, which means you can play it horizontally. Install the extension hose and the mouthpiece, place the melodica on a table, and you are ready to play.
One complaint that I noticed among the people who purchased this instrument is that it comes out of tune. They all come out of tune, but this one, in particular, is more off tune than others. Tuning a melodica is a frustrating process, but once you get the hang of it, you should be able to do it in your sleep. Other than that, the D’Luca is an excellent product, and just because it has one repairable flaw, that doesn’t mean you must overlook its qualities. Click here to read more reviews and buy on Amazon.
Rise by Sawtooth ST-RISE-MEL-32-BLK Piano Style Melodica
The only notable difference I could notice between this model and the D’Luca is that the latter is not as sleek as this one. They both have beautiful designs, but one must always look better than the other. Also, the Rise is available in both 32-key version and the 37-key. You can choose according to your liking and skills.
This particular Rise has 32 piano style keys. It is very easy to learn how to play on it, and if you already know, you will surely enjoy making it sing. It is perfect for both beginners and for those who are familiar with the keys.
The Rise also comes with a bag that will protect it from outside contaminants. Bacteria are everywhere. The last place you want them is the mouthpiece of your melodica. Unlike the D’Luca model, the carrying bag that comes with the Rise seems more durable. You will also receive a flexible tube that will allow you to play the melodica as a piano. Just install the extension tube and place the instrument on a table. Click here to read more reviews and buy on Amazon.
As much as I want to trust Hohner more than the other two brands, I cannot overlook the fact that it does not come with an extension hose. So my confusion was choosing between the Rise and the D’Luca. Taking into consideration all the aspects and features, I reached the conclusion that the Rise by Sawtooth is one of the best melodicas on the market, which is why I strongly recommend it. The two are pretty much the same, but the Rise doesn’t come as out of tune as the D’Luca.
Learning to play a new instrument can be frustrating at first, but it can be a lot of fun at the same time. How many years have passed since you learned something new? Maybe it’s not a bad idea to do it now. Taking up an instrument is as good as any other hobby, and a melodica is an excellent place to start. Click here to buy on Amazon
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