If you’re looking for a way to take your yoga, meditation, or chanting to the next level, this harmonium buying guide serves as a connection to the perfect instrument. Musicians and even those without a musical background find playing the harmonium easy and rewarding.
The harmonium is one of the only instruments that sound great, even when played by beginners. With a little self-confidence and a dash of rhythm, most players quickly find the keys and watch their meditation skyrocket.
But before this can happen, you’ll need to buy the right one. Just buying the first one you find on Amazon isn’t recommended for one main reason. All harmoniums are not created equal.
In fact, a lot of those being sold today are junk–plain and simple. But luckily there are a lot of quality pieces available as well. By the end of this article, you’ll be able to tell the difference and know exactly which one to choose.
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What is a Harmonium?
Popular in India, Nepal, and Pakistan, a harmonium – also known as Melodeon, Reed Organ or Pump Organ- is a type of instrument.
Similar to an organ, this keyboard-like instrument makes a sound that is like an accordion. Because it is a reed instrument, there are no pipes. Instead, air blows through these metal reeds.
There is more than one type of harmonium, but this guide focuses on the hand-pumped kind. It is these hand-pumped pedals that push the air through. Harmoniums require no electricity.
And although many harmoniums are stationary, many are portable too. So, unlike huge organs, they can easily be moved from place to place. This is actually a part of harmonium history.
Since the harmonium was patented in the 1800s, people have been journeying around playing these instruments. But truthfully, this practice goes back much further as musicians in Asia were playing reed instruments in the 1700s. So, if you’re looking for an instrument that can be easily moved, a harmonium might be a place to start.
One thing that should be highlighted is how beneficial harmoniums can be to group chanting. Just like Tibetian singing bowls, the melodic sound that these organs make, make group chanting and meditation much more powerful.
What to look for when buying a Harmonium?
Once you have decided to purchase a harmonium, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Knowing what questions to ask and what to look for going into the buying process will ensure that the harmonium you purchase serves the purpose that you need it to.
You need to take into consideration your playing style, expertise level, and lifestyle, to name a few. Here are some of the most important things you should keep in mind during the buying process:
You need to think about how you use your harmonium and how your lifestyle aligns with your need for the instrument. If you want to travel with it, a portable version will serve you best.
These instruments are typically the same size, but fold up and feature a handle, making them a breeze to bring with you wherever you go.
If you don’t need to pick up your harmonium and go, a standard option will serve you well. Either way, you still get the same benefits of being able to express yourself through your music.
Full-Size vs. Mini Harmonium
Some of the most high-quality harmoniums come in many shapes and sizes to fit the needs of their owners. Think about how much space you have to fit the instrument you choose.
Even if you have a large living space, if you need to travel with it, you also want to think about the cargo space you have in your car.SEE ON AMAZON
Also, keep in mind that smaller harmoniums are also more lightweight, so if you aren’t able to lift heavy objects and you need to travel lightly, a mini harmonium would be the perfect option for you.
Keep in mind, though – with smaller harmoniums, there is less capacity for air within the instrument, meaning that you will be sacrificing sound quality.
Sound Quality and Capacity
One of the most important things you have to look out for is the sound quality and capacity. Harmoniums depend on a steady source of air to operate. In order for the sound quality and capacity to be optimal, you need to make sure that you are buying high-quality equipment.SEE ON AMAZON
Lots of people think that because harmoniums are popular in India, they must buy a harmonium from India. Although this might seem reasonable, many of the harmoniums produced there are actually of really low quality. The cheap price tag on these instruments will attest to that fact.
So remember, even though a low-cost price tag might be attractive, remember that cheap harmoniums are almost always low-quality harmoniums that are extremely susceptible to leaks. It is better to spend a little more now for a longer-lasting instrument that will carry you through many years to come.
Scale Changing vs. Standard Harmonium
For this section, you should consider how experienced you are at playing the harmonium and also what keys you tend to play in when you’re using it. If you are someone that has ample experience in playing the instrument and you typically only play in one key, a standard harmonium should check off all the boxes you need.
Harmonium players who play in multiple keys should consider a scale-changing option. This is because scale changing harmoniums have a special mechanism built in that allows players to switch keys with the slide of a handle quickly.
Two Reeds vs. Three Reeds
In the world of harmoniums, there are three different classifications of reeds – two, three, or four. In order to understand which one is right for you, you must first understand how the number of reeds impacts how the music sounds.
A reed is a chamber within the instrument that the air is pushed through, thus producing the sound that is played. The more reeds you have, the more sound will be layered when you play a note.SEE ON AMAZON
Two-reeded harmoniums, for example, will play the same note through two different channels, creating a double-layered effect. The more reeds you add, the more the same note will resonate through multiple channels.
To better understand this, imagine listening to a choir performance versus a duet. A two-reeded harmonium would produce the same effect as two people singing together, while a four-reeded one would be more similar to a small section of the choir singing along with one another.
The reeds in your harmonium will be made up of either copper or brass. Brass reeds produce a sound that is louder and therefore penetrates easier. This is an excellent option if you play for people singing or other large gatherings since it can penetrate the loudness of its environment.
Copper, on the other hand, is known for its warmer and softer tones and is used mainly in classical performances.
Other Harmonium Features
The dials and knobs on the harmonium itself control different aspects of how the instrument works. Stops, for example, are the large knobs on the front of the harmonium. These knobs are responsible for controlling airflow to the inside of the harmonium.
They control the texture and depth of the sound you get, so make sure that these are intact and easy to turn. The same goes for the smaller knobs, called drones, which play a single droned note when activated.
Another vital thing to look at when purchasing a harmonium is its bellows. The bellows are the air pumps of the instrument, and they orchestrate the air within it so that your harmonium can effortlessly produce the notes you need it to.
Bellows have multiple folds, ranging anywhere from two to seven, but less fold doesn’t mean a lower-quality instrument. However, many high-end harmoniums have seven folds, since this may allow for more control over the sound produced when playing.
The last thing you should pay mind to is couplers. They are essential because they add depth and volume to the song you play. When activated, the couplers play a note an octave up (or sometimes an octave down). This allows the music to sound more well-rounded and eclectic overall.
What is the price of a Harmonium?
The price of a harmonium ranges widely based on several factors. The quality of the materials used, the manufacturer, and even the size of the instrument will all play into how much you pay.SEE ON AMAZON
For lower-end budget harmoniums, you can expect to pay no less than USD 600. A high-quality one from a reputable brand such as Paul & Co start at around USD 1800, and the price goes up from there.SEE ON AMAZON
It’s essential to keep in mind that while a lower-cost harmonium might look attractive now, in the long run, you will save money by going with a more expensive option. This is because purchasing a high-end option from a reputable brand means that you can depend on your instrument lasting years rather than weeks or months.
Owning a harmonium that you know you can rely on, might indicate a more substantial initial investment, but it will undoubtedly pay off in the years to come. So, don’t make the mistake of opting for a cheaper option solely due to the cost.
How to play Harmonium?
Learning how to play a new instrument is a big task for anyone. If you are looking to pick up on this skill, remember that there is no one “right way” to do so; you have several different options.
If you need hands-on instruction from someone in a one-on-one setting, fiding an accredited teacher would be an excellent solution for you.
Playing Harmonium: Online Instructions
If you can learn from tutorials, YouTube can also be an excellent resource for you. There is a vast array of knowledge on this platform that you can use to your advantage.
The great thing about using a platform is the availability of information out there. If you don’t like the way one person teaches, it’s as simple as doing a new search, and you can be on our way to becoming a harmonium pro!
Another excellent option for anyone interested in learning how to play the harmonium is to read books about it. The best thing about using a book to learn is the quality and amount of information that’s at your disposal.
Reading a well-researched book is one of the best ways to glean your knowledge from reputable and well-known players across the globe – information that may not be otherwise at your disposal.
If you’re looking for the right book for you, but you don’t know where to start, don’t worry – we have you covered. Here are a few of our favorite harmonium books:
The Harmonium HandbookSEE ON AMAZON
The Harmonium Handbook is one of our absolute favorite how-to guides for beginner players. It breaks down all the information you need to know into an easy-to-understand and easy-to-read format.
You can rest assured knowing that you will have all the know-how you need to get started being the best harmonium player you can be with this book.
Learn to Play HarmoniumSEE ON AMAZON
If you’re looking for an instructional book on playing harmonium that offers a step-by-step approach to learning, this is a great option. It contains all the most important things you need to know, from how to position your fingers up to learning the scales and octaves.
This manuscript is well-rounded and stocked full of all the best knowledge any new harmonium player needs to know.
Learn to Play Harmonium: Level 1SEE ON AMAZON
Learn to Play Harmonium: Level 1 is a fantastic step-by-step guide that anyone can read and understand. Not only does it include text format for you to read and learn from, but it also has accompanying videos that you can watch, as well.
Having that extra resource can make a massive difference in how quickly and easily you learn the new skill of playing the harmonium once and for all.
Is the harmonium an Indian instrument?
The harmonium is very popular in India, but it is now used by musicians, yoga instructors, and meditators throughout the world. It is also a commonly played instrument in Nepal and Afghanistan. You don’t have to be from India to buy and play a harmonium. Anybody can buy one and anyone can learn to play.
Can you tune a harmonium?
Yes, you can tune a harmonium. Most harmoniums need to be tuned every 3 or 4 years. Harmonium reeds are tuned by filing a little metal off. This happens by sanding or scraping. It should be done only on one side of the vibrating tongue of each reed.
How do I choose a harmonium?
Reading a solid harmonium buying guide can help you decide which type of harmonium to purchase. There are lots of different types of harmoniums of various standards for sale. In fact, there are so many available, it can be difficult for a beginner to choose. A harmonium buying guide can help you weed out the high-quality instruments from the junk.
How does a harmonium work?
A harmonium works similar to an organ. Because it is a reed instrument, there are no pipes. Instead, air blows through these metal reeds. Pedal-based harmoniums use a pressure-equalizing air reservoir. This reservoir metal reeds inside slots in metal frames vibrate through the frames.
Is it hard to play the harmonium?
Is it hard to play the harmonium? For many people, learning to play the harmonium is difficult. For others, it is a breeze. The answer really depends on how dedicated you are and if you are willing to practice and take classes either in person or online. Here you can find online classes and how-to-play Harmonium books.
Buying the Right Harmonium for You
Buying the right harmonium for you requires research and an eye for details. As long as you stay informed and know what questions to ask and what to look for, you can be sure that you purchase the perfect one for you.
If you’re looking to learn how to play the harmonium, there are many resources available to you that can make your dreams a reality. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and get the perfect harmonium today!