Why should children learn the harmonica? Because it’s fun!
And also because:
- It’s easy to play – you don’t need to use fingers (manual dexterity can be hard for young children)
- It provides an accessible and relatively easy introduction to music
- You can play scales and tunes over three octaves
- You can play rhythms with chords, as well as melodies (sometimes even both at the same time!)
- You can also play pairs of notes simultaneously using different intervals, including octaves
- It’s cheap and fits in your pocket
- You can play along / accompany on the piano – the harmonica equates to the white notes on the piano
- It sounds great right out of the box
- You can learn to play it chromatically (all the sharps and flats). Children generally don’t get to this stage so we play it modally to access C major, D minor (dorian), E minor (Phrygian), F major (Lydian), G major (mixolydian) A minor (aeolian), B minor (locrian)
- You can play the Blues – where it is best known
- You hear it on adverts and tv theme tunes all the time
- A lot of bands use the harmonica as part of their show
- There are a thousand harmonica performances viewable for free on YouTube.
Plus it will even lead to work if you want it to; there are many people who play music in bands and who teach and write about music as a full time or part time living.
A child who starts an instrument in primary school could easily be earning a living from music aged 18 if they put their mind to it, and having musical skills is a job for life in any country.
The social aspect of learning a musical instument, the teamwork skills you learn, the sense of community you feel, the friends you make – these are all wonderful and important things.
We wouldn’t say the harmonica is necessarily better than the recorder, ocarina, ukulele or anything else, but it’s got a great deal in its favour. Alright, let’s be honest – it’s way better that all these other instruments!
The harmonica is the highest selling instrument of all – one company alone, M. Hohner, has been making 30 million harmonicas a year since the 1930s. The Chinese factories are much bigger again.
Posted in: Parents' FAQs