Help Getting Started

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    Today, I received the Hammond 44H. It’s a beautiful melodica and I love the tone.

    Unfortunately, I have no experience playing the melodica. I studied the violin for ten years when I was younger and the classical guitar for the last seven years. I’m wasn’t a music major so I never became proficient on the piano even though I took a few lessons.

    How do I get started on the melodica? I bought the interval book and two-handed Japanese method book by Gianluca Barbaro. What other books should I get?

    My wife is away studying in France. My goal is to master a bunch of sad French songs, such as La Vie En Rose, and works by Yann Tiersen, the composer of the music for the film Amelie, go over there and amaze her with my virtuosity! Haha!

    Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated.


    Hello Larry,
    I’m not a professional at the melodica either. I never took piano lessons before and I started playing melodica about 3 years ago. Unfortunately, I can’t suggest you a book to buy because I play by hear. What I could suggest to do, however, is to look on YouTube if someone made a video on how to play the song that you want to play with the melodica. That’s what I do when I want to learn new songs. It also exists videos that show you the basics of the melodica. I hope that these suggestions will help you a little bit.


    Thanks for the reply, Olivier. So, does anything go in terms of fingering on the melodica?

    Has anybody written a book of graded pieces with some performance tips? I guess I’m used to a more structured approach to learning an instrument.

    I suppose I’ll just keep printing out piano parts and learn them that way. I’m skeptical about learning to play with two hands. Do you play with two hands?

    AvatarJim R

    I have not purchased any of the books you will see on the link below, but I have the page bookmarked in case I decide to. Peruse the titles, maybe one will be just what you need.

    AvatarAlan Brinton

    Hi Olivier. Of the Gianluca Barbaro books linked by Jim, I would recommend to you his Melodic Intervals Workout. It is very elementary. Also, check under the Lessons tab here for the two items written by Daren Banarse, the creator and manager of this site.

    I suggest that you check out some performances of those French songs on You Tube; identify two or three that you especially like for each song, performances in which the melody played on a suitable instrument is emphasized; and then try playing along. I find that this is the quickest and most agreeable way to learn to play tunes on the melodica. You can also find sheet music for the song in the same key (if you don’t already have it) by doing a Google image search, and then look at that as you’re playing along. For most of us who are not advanced players but have some musical background, I think this is much better than trying to play just from the sheet music. By a suitable instrument, I mean a melodic instrument or any instrument that is in the performance focused on playing the melody roughly within the range in which the melodica plays. Violin, trumpet, clarinet are good. The prevailing opinion around here, which I share, is that the melodica should be thought of mainly as a wind instrument rather than as a keyboard instrument. The approach I’m suggesting is also conducive to improving one’s ability to play be ear.

    AvatarGianluca Barbaro

    Thank you Jim, Alan.

    I may add that, although it is aimed at two-handed playing, “Play melodica with both hands!” can be played with the right hand only, and you can play both staves (being the left hand “reversed”, it has the same fingerings of the right hand). And it definitely is a graded collection of exercises/pieces, being an adaptation of Beyer op. 101.


    Thanks for writing the books, Gianluca. I will give two-handed playing a shot. At the moment, I’m lost on the keyboard because of the size of the keys and not knowing how to move my hands and fingers in the pieces. I can make it through the Amelie Waltz but it needs a lot of work. Still, the melodica is a blast to play and is a nice change from the classical guitar!


    So, here is a newbie question. Where is piano middle C on the Hammond 44H? I thought it was three octaves up but I believe it is two octaves, the lowest note being a C, and then the next C being middle C. On a 37 key melodica, is middle C then the first C up from the low F?

    I downloaded the Simply Piano program on my iPhone and tried out some of their lessons. The app detects pitch and so told me what was middle C. It’s useful to work on playing in time and breathing with an app like that but I don’t know if I’ll pay for it, as I am missing half of a piano keyboard! Somebody should build an app like that for the melodica.


    Larry, Suzuki states that middle C is located one octave higher than your lowest C note or three octaves lower from your highest C note.
    I hope this helps


    Thanks! Thats’s what I think, one octave above the lowest C, and three octaves from the highest C if you count the highest C, otherwise two octaves.


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