Fun Techniques for Playing the Basic Diatonic Harmonica
So you want to learn how to play the harmonica? On this page I reveal the number one, easiest secret I know for learning how to play the harmonica with a rich bluesy tone and solid rhythm!
Learn the DEEP RELAXED MOUTH POSITION
Can you bend and make the harmonica sing with rich and soulful sounds or do your notes sometimes sound airy and squeaky? I’m asking because far too many intermediate level players get stuck with bad habits and find themselves frustrated, unable to play songs accurately, and discouraged when attempting to bend.
If you’ve been having a hard time learning to play harmonica, it’s likely you have not been using the Deep Relaxed Embouchure as seen in Figure 1 below.
|Figure 1: DO THIS||Figure 2: DON’T DO THIS|
Unlike many harmonica teachers, I highly advise against tight puckering or tongue-blocking in the beginning or you will have a much harder time learning to bend. (BTW…bending is that crying, wailing, soul-melting sound that has made the harmonica famous.)
The truth is that tight puckering of the lips will get you off to a fast start but is ultimately a dead-end street. (I’m emphasizing this because I know you can succeed with the harmonica if you develop good habits right from the beginning.) click here to see a free video that teaches the Deep Relaxed Embouchure, or follow the steps below.
Step 1. Hold the harmonica in your right hand so the numbers are facing up (the lowest sounding note should be on your left). This is not the advanced hand technique but this will make it easier for now…first things first.
Step 2. Position the harmonica deep in your mouth. Relax and moisten your lips.
Step 3. Rotate the harmonica so that the back-side of the harmonica goes up towards the ceiling. The angling of the harmonica down into your lower lip is critical (see Figure 1 above).
Step 4. Use a mirror to check that your upper lip is deep over the harmonica as demonstrated in this picture…
|Step 4: Use a Mirror||Step 5: Unfold Your Lower Lip|
Step 5 (Most important). Unfold your lower lip. Notice in the photograph how the lower lip is unfolded so that the harmonica is making contact with the inner surface of the lower lip. Compare step 4 and 5′s photographs and notice how shallow the lower lip is on the cover plate of the harmonica.
Step 6. Use your fingers to pull down the lower lip to make sure that the harmonica is contacting the tender inner surface of your lower lip.
Step 7. Look in a mirror to confirm
- 1. The upper lip is deep on the harmonica.
- 2. The lower lip is shallow on the harmonica.
- 3. The harmonica is contacting the inner surface of your lower lip.
- 4. The harmonica is angled down into the lower lip.
Congratulations! If you only learn this one thing today, you’ve made this visit worth your while and created the foundations for learning the harmonica the right way!