Marvel Ocarina Review
An ancient instrument gets a super new upgrade.
The ocarina is an instrument that has more than stood the test of time. Dating back over twelve thousand years, these wind instruments were traditionally made from clay or ceramic, and had anywhere from four to twelve holes. Although a long history exists for these ethereal instruments, they were far from mainstream until a prominent role in several The Legend of Zelda games brought them to the forefront of popular culture. Since then, the ocarina has seen a revival in interest – and has amassed a few modern features along the way.
The newly released Superhero ocarinas from STL Ocarina are officially licensed products featuring a variety of your favorite superheroes, including Iron Man, Wolverine, and Captain America, among others. The Spiderman ocarina we received for review features a creeping Spidey in dark, edgy colors. The instrument itself is made of a lightweight yet incredibly durable plastic that has the heft and feel of glossy wood, and features a soft cord for easy wearing around your neck – all in Spidey’s signature, eye-catching red.
For the novice, picking up the ocarina and giving it a shot is a simple process that produces a sound similar to a recorder. This is a twelve hole instrument, with a mouthpiece emerging from the top. No special mouth positioning is needed to play; simply place your lips around it and blow, and a smooth, mellow tone emerges. Actually producing a song is a bit more complicated. The holes are positioned mostly on the top of the instrument, with two on the bottom, and are in a variety of sizes. Of course, you can just place your fingers on random holes and make up your own melodies (my children did just that, and had a ball), but if you want to be able to really play, you’ll need to put just a bit of work into it.
Included with the ocarina is a sheet directing buyers to a free instructional booklet and fingering chart that will give players a great start on their musical journey. The fingering chart is just a simple page showing what finger positions equate to which musical note (if you are already skilled in reading and playing music, a little bit of practice should have you belting out Hot Cross Buns in no time). The instructional booklet is 18 pages of practical advice on how to use your new instrument, from how to hold it to proper blowing technique to how to clean it.
It is not assumed that you’ve played a wind instrument before, and so covers basics about air flow and mouth positioning – a nice touch for newcomers. There are even included lessons and sheet music to get you started. Once you graduate from the beginner booklet, there are a number of videos on Youtube from a variety of posters, which are great for both inspiration and instruction. STL Ocarina also sells accessories like instruction dvds and method books, so there is no shortage of methods to hone your skills.
Whether you’re interested in picking up a new instrument and want to try something a little different, or just want a unique gift for that Marvel superfan in your life, the Superhero ocarinas from STL Ocarina offer a quality product that won’t kill your budget. The look and feel is sleek and smooth, and you truly can just pick it up and play. Once you’re ready to learn the ropes, a great beginner instruction booklet gets you on your way – you’ll be serenading friends, neighbors, and strangers on the street in no time.