by Tamsyn

October 29, 2016

Introducing the Melodica

The melodica is a fun instrument with an interesting history.  It began when Mathias Hohner, a German musician and instrument inventor, traveled to Japan.  He heard the mouth organ called the "sho" and believed that he could improve on the design.  Through a series of trial and error, he was wildly successful.  He brought us the harmonica and the accordion.  Improvements and modifications were made in Japan, and Hohner, not to be outdone also invented the melodica.

The melodica is very useful for a number of different applications.  In Asia it is very common as a child's classroom instrument, especially for teaching basic keyboard skills and music theory.  It is popular in Jazz.  It is a novelty instrument for pianists.  Because it is lightweight, portable and affordable, it is especially useful for teaching children keyboarding skills.  The best part?  No batteries!

A Wind Instrument

This brings us to the second aspect of the melodica, which is that it is a member of the reed family.  The volume and articulation can be controlled by the mouth, although better articulation can be achieved with the fingers on the keys.  It takes a lot of breath support to play long phrases.  It takes more air to play louder.  Gaining experience and practice with these skills will set the stage for learning other wind (and brass) instruments as the child advances in music.  So there really are a lot of useful applications for music educators.

For the melodica enthusiast, there certainly is room for pursuing more professional endeavors.  Jon Batiste is a professional Jazz musician who specializes in the instrument.  Also, check out the Tokyo Melodica Orchestra, who specialize in arranging classical music for the instrument.  The man on the far right is playing a bass melodica.

Whether the instrument is new to you or old hat, I hope this overview has been a fun look into an often overlooked instrument.  My kids have had a BLAST playing with ours.  It has been a fun way to shake up their regular piano lessons and give them a new way to practice (and hear!) their songs.

Enter below to win a melodica!

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Melodica on Amazon.
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About the author 


My name is Tamsyn and I love music. I got my bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from USU. I spent many years teaching private piano lessons until I had children of my own. I have attended several children workshops on how to teach children music. I really like the Kodaly method, but have adapted a lot of different techniques for my own children.

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  1. I’ve never heard of the Melodica before but I think it’ s great that it’s useful in teaching basic keyboard functions. Great giveaway!

  2. The melodica is one of the most entertaining instruments! I’ve jammed with other musicians including one who played melodica. It’s a great alternative to trying to haul a piano or accordion around!

    1. How cool! While it is somewhat validating to know that I’m not the only one who hadn’t heard of the melodica, I am more glad to see that it is being used. I’d love to see more people using it. Thanks for sharing!

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