How to play blues harmonica | Easyharp Tips

blues harmonica lessons


Hello my blues harmonica friends, today I try to give you some basics tips about playing blues harmonica.

It’s not simple to explain in a few words and probably it will take a long time playing fluently this nice instrument, but I hope my suggestions will help who is approaching for the first time to diatonic harmonica.

1. Blues harmonica is a melodic instrument but also a rhythmic instrument, so you need to explore different kinds of embouchures (puckering and tongue-blocking for example) to create melodies and accompaniments.

2. You can play in different keys with the same harmonica, but basically you will learn to play in three keys, that are the most used positions

3. Straight harp is the first position and it means playing in the same key of your harp. If you like playing folk music, melodic pop music (I mean something like Bob Dylan) probably you will prefer playing in first position. From 4th to 7th hole you will probably find your melody notes.

4. Cross harp is the second position and it means playing in a key that is a fifth above your harmonica key; so if you have for example a blues harp in the key of C, start counting 5 notes from C, so: C-D-E-F-G and that is, you are playing in the key of G. This will be your favourite choice playing blues music, particularly Chicago blues. Your root note will be in 2th hole draw and in the first six holes you will find a lot of possibilities to create nice blues riffs and licks. To get deeper in the blues language you will need to bend some notes.

5. Third position means playing in a new key that is one note above your harmonica key, so with a C harmonica you will play in the key of D. This will be your favourite choice if  you are attempting to play a minor tune (I mean something like Summertime) and you will probably find your minor melody notes from 4th hole draw to 8th hole draw.

6. Bending is the most crucial technique that you need to learn playing blues harmonica. Through this technique you can lower the pitch of first six draw notes and of last three blow notes, so you will be able to obtain new missing notes and to give more expression to your playing. All is inside your mouth, you need to learn how to set your tongue in order to create new sounds (think about when you whistle a tune).

7. Playing harmonica is an extension of your breathing, like singing. The most natural is your breathing, the most effective will be your playing. Don’t force the air flow, breath naturally through your harmonica and you will obtain a nice sound.

8. Listen to a lot of different harmonica players. Your ears need to recognize your instrument different sounds and you will love them and probably you will prefer some styles to others.

9. Play at least 5 minutes every day. Constancy will give you a lot of satisfaction.

10. Play by ear but as soon as possible start studying some musical theory: you will suddenly  improve your playing.

11. Practice a lot. Do it yourself, but when you can, play with other musicians. Music is fun.

12. Find an harmonica teacher. When you need to quickly learn more about your instrument, take some harmonica lessons from a professional instructor that is also a good harmonica player: you will discover a lot of new possibilities in a short time.

13. Have fun playing your harmonica, this is the most important goal: take it easy :)

I hope my simple suggestions can give you some kind of inspiration playing the blues harmonica.

If you’d like, in this website you can find a lot of video lessons about most important topics, just click on BLUES HARMONICA VIDEO LESSONS to explore my tutorial section.

I wish you a lot of fun playing your blues harmonica!


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