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Lesson Plans


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Mon, 14 Sep 1998 21:19:22 -0400

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Here is an ocarina page sent to me by a friend. I haven't tried them
yet, but the instructions are great. Good luck!

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Ocarinas are Elementary

[Opening the Kiln]

Exploring Ocarinas as Art and Music

Suan Guess-Hanson
Metcalf Laboratory School
Illinois State University
Normal, IL 61790-7000

Professional Information

I received degrees in art, painting and printmaking, art history and art education from Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington; University of Illinois, Urbana; and Illinois State University, Normal.

Personal Information

[Suan Playing Recorder]

As an art teacher at Metcalf and a musician and composer, I have enjoyed combining art and music in the making and playing of ocarinas with students. When I bought my first ocarina at a crafts fair in Port Angelese, WA, several years ago, I wanted to try making my own instruments. With many hours of working on my own and with students, I have gradually made better whistles and ocarinas. I also am interested in learning more about these folk instruments to share information with others.

Ocarina Making

The ocarina is a musical instrument usually made of clay (although some are made of wood.) This globular flute originated in Pre-Colombian Central and South America. Often ocarinas were made in the shapes of birds, people or animals. The crucial part of making an ocarina is creating the correct bevel where the air column from the wind way is split. For proper tuning of notes, the different sizes of finger holes, all placed behind the sound hole, are more important than their placement.

Some of My Favorite Sites on Ocarinas:

The Burnt Earth Web Page: Globular Horns
This site has interesting photos of different clay instruments that are different from ocarinas, more like trumpets.
Ain't Whistlin' Dixie
This site has examples of a variety of sound clips.According to David this site has the first ocarina concert on the www.
Arto Wikla's Music Page
Atro has interesting information on a variety of instruments.
Bruce McNaught (Percussion, Flute)
Bruce hails from Wellington, NZ
David Walker's Web Page
This is David's official page - see his other page above, Whistlin' Dixie above for more fun information about ocarinas.
Folk Mote Music - Wind Instruments
Although limited, there is a good photo of a wooden ocarina.
Folk Music on the Internet
Site gives links to other Web sites.
De Indios:(of the Indians) Importers of South American Indian Art
This catalogue has some very good photos of different ocarinas.
Mid-East Mfg., Inc.
Photos of many folk instruments are shown, few ocarinas.
This catalogue has some very nice graphic images of different ocarinas. The authors of this home page mention that ocarinas because a craze in the U.S. around the turn of the century in their "sweet potato" form, and during WW II the U.S. government even issued mass-produced plastic ocarinas to its soldiers as a morale booster.
Giorgio Pacchioni
Recorder/ocarina player, music teacher and puppeteer
Mr. Hayakawa
Plays the ocarina and has photos of slip mold ocarinas.
Singing Stones
Musical group performing with ocarinas (1994 Hearts of Space HS11042-2)

Examples of Student Work from College for Youth - Whistlin' Clay 1996 [Kate Riegle-Van West & Jenny Wang playing ocarina duet]
By clicking on this image above, you can hear Kate and Jenny playing their ocarina duet which they composed and performed during class.


[Happy face design]

[bird double ocarinal]

[Unglazed monster]



See instructions for how to make clay ocarinas like the ones above.

B.I. Resources (before Internet)

  • Janet Moniot, Clay Whistles...The Voices of Clay, 1989, The Whistle Press, PO Box 273, Plainfield, New Hampshire 03781
  • Chicago Tribune, "Time! It's a Whistlestop", Section 11, p. 12; Dec. 16, 1973.
  • (Article about Howard and Sandy Binder who make clay whistles.)
  • Ilene Hunter and Marilyn Judson, Simple Folk Instruments to Make and to Play, 1977, Simon and Schuster, pp. 146-147.
  • Jack Botermans, Herman Dewit, Hans Goddefroy, Making and Playing Musical Instruments, 1989, University of Washington Press, Seattle
  • Ocarina Makers

  • Anita Feng, Music in Stoneware. Issaquah, WA, formerly of Champaign, IL.
  • She has made wheel-thrown ocarinas since 1974. She mentions that in the 1850's the 10-hole ocarina with traditional western tunings first appeared in Italy where it was made in the shape and size of a little goose ("ocarina"). Before the recorder came into vogue in the United States, ocarinas known as "sweet potatoes" were quite popular. Visit her web page.
  • ISOKA FLUTES, PO Box 460652,San Francisco, CA
  • These flutes which date back to pre-Colombian civilization were found specifically in Bolivia and Peru with similar instruments being used in Central and South America by the Mayas, Incas and Diaguitas.
    The[Musical Rock] Ocarina Music Book compiled by J. Saunders West, c. 1981, Clear Ahead Unlimited, Denver, CO. Ocarina (Italian word for "Globular Flute") whose origins date back thousands of years. Archeologists have found traces of primitive clay flutes from stone age times. They have been part of the musical culture in both Asia and Europe (China-"Hsuan" and France "cou cou"). In the 1800's Italians built complex eight or nine holed ocarinas of metal as well as of clay, however they were quite large and had to be carried around with two hands.
    [Drawing of correct bevel]
    Created by: Suan Guess-Hanson. Please send comments to:
    Last Updated: 04/09/97
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