How to Play the Melodica (Easy Guide for Beginners)Hello there, so you want to learn how to play this amazing instrument called “melodica”?

Then I have great news for you, because this is going to be a free and easy class for beginners like yourself.

Get the Full Course: Learn How to Play the Melodica

Why should you learn how to play the melodica?

The melodica is a wonderful instrument, with a vibrant reedy sound, and great dynamic expressive power. It may look almost like a toy instrument, but don’t let that fool you!

Myself, and many other professional musicians, use it in their music productions simply because of its great sound, expression and character.

What is a Melodica?

The melodica is what is called a “free reed instrument”, similar to the harmonica, accordion, or bag pipes. This means that you produce sound simply by pushing air into it, without having to shape your mouth and lips like on a saxophone. 

The sound is a beautiful mix between the bluesy tone of a harmonica, and the airy sound of an accordion.

A standard 37 key melodica has a full 3 octave range with every note from F3 to F6. This gives you the ability to play practically every single song in the world.

And since it has a keyboard layout, and you simply need to blow air into it to make a sound, the melodica is very easy to learn.

But when you get more advanced on this instrument, you will also be able to play with emotion, decorations and your own expressive style. 

How do you Play a Melodica?

The melodica produces the notes and sounds based on two aspects. The first is your breath, which is provided by either a hose or a mouth piece which you blow air into.

The second aspect is which key you press. Because if you don’t press any key and try to blow air into the melodica, it will not work. It’s the combination of the two that makes the notes come out.

You can blow harder for a louder and more intense sound, or softer for a more light and mellow tone. Or even change the loudness over time as you hold a notes.

A bonus feature of the melodica is that you can press more than 1 key at a time, so you can in fact play harmonies or even full chords.

Something to notice with the melodica is that the lower notes require more air, and the higher notes less air. And if you hold down more notes this becomes even more apparent.

You recommend that if you are a complete beginner, you should start practicing playing melodies first, meaning pressing one key at a time. Then you can move on to harmonies and chords.

How to Add Emotion & Expression

For such a simple instrument, the melodica has amazing expressive capabilities.

First: the dynamic range is really big. Meaning you play the notes from very soft to very loud, by blowing more or less air into it. This means you can also change the dynamics over the duration of the note. Doing note swells, crescendos to build intensity. Or gradually lowering the intensity.

Second: Since you have a big dynamic range, you can also do vibrato by pulsing the air stream as you hold the note. And you can shape both the intensity as well as speed of your vibrato over time. This is a more advanced technique, but when you learn it, you will be able to really add a lot of emotion into your performance.

Third: You can also add decorations and spice, by for example doing grace notes. This means you add a very short and quick transition note when you go between two main notes.

Fourth: Since harmonies always sound richer and more powerful than single notes, you can use this to your advantage by adding harmony notes as accents to any specific melody notes you want.

Melodica Maintenance

A huge advantage with the melodica as a music instrument, is that you never have to tune it. It is always ready to go, and start playing music as soon as you pick it up.

However, being a wind instrument, water condensation will build up inside it as you play. So you need to get rid of that moisture. The way  you do this is by pressing a button on the bottom of the melodica, and then blow as hard as you can into the mouth piece.

You can also remove the hose, and blow hard into it as well. Make sure when you do this, that you aim it properly to avoid getting water all over your computer or something.

How to Play Songs on Your Melodica

It’s very easy to learn song on a melodica since it has a standard keyboard layout, and since it is very easy to produce a sound on this instrument.

I always recommend learning how to read music, if you are serious about learning and playing songs. And the best part is that for a melodic treble instrument like the Melodica, you only really need to learn how to read the treble clef (also called G clef).

However, I have another solution for you to learn songs, if you don’t want to learn how to read sheet music. And that is to use either YouTube videos, or an app, that shows “falling piano notes” that drop towards the keyboard.

This works if you only play the melody notes from those videos, since the Melodica is the same layout as a piano keyboard. The lowest C on your melodica is in fact middle C (C4) on a piano.

Congratulations and Good Luck!

If you want to learn more on playing the melodica, or other music topics, I have a link below to many music courses I’ve made for beginners like yourself.

Finally, I want to congratulate you for taking the first steps in learning this amazing instrument, and I wish you good luck on your journey.