Thoughts on trying the Dimi.
The Dimi has the potential to seem a little thorny on the surface, meaning that if one picks it up and tries to play melodies - diatonic or tonal melodies on it especially - it can be confusing. That doesn't mean it can't be done by ear and using the "hunt and peck", or trial and error method. It's just that the notes on the Diminished are kind of "scrambled", as compared to the diatonic modes, so it's not that easy to find those tonal melodies built-in, or ready-made. In addition, the four enharmonics can be confusing. When a melody is found to be playable in a number of different holes and breath patterns, it may be harder to remember how to play it.
If learning the Dimi were to be approached by the "beginner" (or someone new to the Dimi) more along the lines of how any other instrument is learned, it would be easier. For example, in a beginner trumpet book, you would learn the fingering of each note. Then you would combine these into scales, and then play basic melodies. Eventually you get used to where the notes are, and at that point, it's easy to play by ear, read music, etc.
In teaching the Dimi, I start with 4-note patterns. There are only three of these patterns (with one alternate), and the "fingering" of these 4-note patterns are very similar to ones found on the traditional Solo layout. These patterns are then combined into scales.
The enharmonics, or the notes that have two possible fingerings for the same pitch, may be the trickiest aspect of mastering the Dimi layout. I introduce the enharmonics one at a time, and when approached this way, they can without a doubt be mastered.
I estimate it took me 3 years to learn the notes on the Dimi. I could play some things sooner, and I still learned a lot after that, but 3 years was roughly where I could finally start improvising and playing melodies by ear without getting lost. This seems like a long time to me, and it was because I was in uncharted territory. Every case is different, but I believe that an accomplished harmonica player who picks up the Dimi and follows an organized approach can be playing the Dimi in a year.
Once the initial hurdle of acclimating to the notes is overcome, the Dimi proves to be very practical for playing tonal melodies. The Dimi also expands very well into playing more chromatic melodies. And, of course, it works quite well for playing in all keys. The Dimi can be daunting on the surface, but really pays back the effort put in. It becomes quite practical and user-friendly as the player gains familiarity.<br><br>