One thing that has worked for me, Case, is to occasionally spend a bit of very relaxed time playing little melodies (made up or parts of familiar tunes – just make up a melody from the notes of the scale), sometimes with my eyes closed. I started doing this when I first picked up the melodica. I had several years of classical training on piano, and it was all too stiff and formal, with no attention to improvisation or playing by ear and too much emphasis on preparing for performance for the teacher or recitals. I frequently sit on the bed with my melodica, sometimes even lie down, and make sounds that please me, and I focus on getting pleasing sounds rather than on hitting the notes, since there are no right on wrong notes in this situation. Except that it helps to be in a key. I started out getting in keys that were harder for me on the piano, like Db or Ab, and I found that these keys are not so hard on the melodica. I’m sure you’ve seen musicians just fooling around with their instrument, warming up, just diddling around, relating to their instrument. I’ve always liked that. I get more compliments when family or friends hear me doing that than when I play a piece for them. I think it’s better to start out playing your melodica when other people happen to be around and get over the self-consciousness that way than it is to perform for them.