How to CRUSH the Blues

A Fun, Fast & Easy Harmonica System

 

Breakthrough Blues

Breakthrough Blues is an online harmonica course designed to get you playing killer blues quicker and more easily than any of my previous methods.

If you’re a beginning or struggling intermediate-level harmonica player, Breakthrough Blues will help you take yourself seriously as a blues musician and performer.

By the time you finish the course you'll ...

  • Nail that classic blues sound. You'll sound like the real deal.
  • Have a ton of blues licks and solos in your back pocket ready to bust out at any time.
  • Hold your own and not feel embarrassed about getting your harmonica out in front of anyone.

Learn Real Authentic Blues

Harmonica is synonymous with the blues. And that's exactly what you'll learn. Real, honest-to-goodness blues in the style of some of the greats...

Billyboy Arnold
Billy Boy Arnold

One of America's leading blues harmonica players, singers and songwriters.

Junior Wells
Junior Wells

A pioneer of the amplified blues harp style associated with Chicago.

James Cotton
James Cotton

An unmistakable, high-voltage blues sound that would become legendary.

Little Walter
Little Walter

Had a revolutionary approach to blues harmonica that has lasted generations.

Muddy Waters
Muddy Waters

The father of modern Chicago blues influenced a whole world of modern music.

Why Do So Many Harmonica Players Sound Bad?

Many harmonica players have the basics down: the single notes, a few bends, some hand technique ... But when it comes to performing they just don't sound any good.

When I first started playing harmonica around my friends and family, I felt awkward. After a year of practicing, I finally found the courage to play in a New York City subway station. When a man walked over to listen, I immediately stopped playing out of pure embarrassment. (I knew something was still missing, but I didn’t know what it was).

Many students who come to me have experienced similar problems. Harmonica really is an easy instrument to play songs on … but it’s a hard instrument to play with a killer blues tone.

So why do beginners, even those with basic technique down, sound bad? Why do they fail to play harmonica in a way that sounds souful, authoritative and engaging?

Two Ways to Sound Seriously Good

I didn't get good enough or confident enough to play harmonica in public until I learned these two things ...

1. BUILD YOUR MUSCLE MEMORY. To learn specific blues techniques, you need to play them over and over and over... to the point where you have built the habit and muscle coordination to pull them off with absolute ease.

When you learn to drive a car, you feel clumsy and awkward at first. But with lessons and repetition you're soon able to drive well without even thinking about it. It's the same for harmonica blues techniques ... When you've practiced the techniques so they become second nature THAT'S the moment when you'll sound good.

But doing that practice, over and over, is tiresome and boring. Students often get bored and never put in the required reps to become competent. Many give up. Breakthrough Blues solves that problem.

2. LEARN TO HOLD YOUR OWN. My second epiphany was when I met harmonica teacher Hal Walker. Hal taught me a method that helped me more than any other thing.

The method helped me develop a rhythm and lead technique, so that I could hold my own. I became a virtual one-man band. This meant I didn't need to hide behind a guitarist to be confident performing any more.

It was like a lightbulb went on... The number #1 thing to do is to become self-reliant as a harmonica player. I weave this rhythm-and-lead method into Breakthrough Blues. By the time you've finished the course, you too will be able to hold your own as a soulful blues harmonica player.

Destination Blues

Think of Breakthrough Blues as a road trip, where the destination is blues. I'll guide you through that journey, every step of the way. All you need to do is hop aboard with your harmonica, and I'll get you right there. You'll go from someone who sounds just OK (or worse) to a blues harp player with confidence, authority and chops.

Just pop the video lessons on and play along. The lessons will walk you through the techniques, one by one, in a way that makes succeeding with blues harmonica foolproof.

I do this with my play-along method that repeats the necessary habits needed to build the skills to perform blues. But here's the difference...

With my lessons you won't get bored. I weave the required repetition into the lessons in a way that's almost unnoticeable. Instead of being bored, you'll actually have fun doing Breakthrough Blues. You'll be motivated. You'll learn quicker.

Rather than struggle, half-performing any of a gazillion different riffs, I'll teach you specific sure-shot licks and solos that advance your blues playing with each lesson, until you're sounding full-on badass. It's a fun, systematic process that delivers results.

Results, for Real

My goal with Breakthrough Blues is to get you good enough and confident enough to play on stage and with other musicians. Even if that's not something you aspire to, can you imagine knowing that you could, if you wanted to?! Many of my students have gone on to do just that ...

John Silvka (Chicago)
Nicole Reynolds (Atlanta)
Scott Toothacre (San Diego)

By the time you've completed Breakthrough Blues...

You'll be a confident blues harmonica player—you'll sound like the real deal.

When other people hear you come in, ripping and wailing on the four draw with that classic wah-wah sound, with added dirt and grit, they're going to take you seriously as a harmonica player.

Your ear will become finely tuned and you'll easily be able to discern between ok playing and polished badass playing (this is another fundamental for getting good). You'll have an armory of killer blues riffs and licks right there in your back pocket to whip out, anytime, any place.

You'll be able to play blues in the styles of Chicago blues, Delta blues, Detroit blues, and Texas blues.

The Complete Blues System

Over 28 Hours of Blues Lessons

Breakthrough Blues is not voodoo magic — it’s an intelligently designed, meticulously crafted, blues harmonica system that will turbocharge your playing. Here’s how:

Sure Shot Blues Licks & Solos

I focus on teaching students the bluesy, soulful riffs that I guarantee you'll be able to nail. I call these Sure Shot Licks. You'll also learn full showpiece 12-bar blues solos too. Think Billy Boy Arnold, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Little Walter.

Techniques to Sculpt Your Tone

You'll learn specific techniques that will allow you to sculpt the sound coming out of your harmonica in a much more artistic, authoritative way, to get that distinctive blues sound. You’ll learn two dozen techniques to achieve that, with a specific focus on the 3.5 essential techniques that guarantee you'll sound bluesy (I introduce these 3.5 techniques in the video at the top of this page. They include: hand wah, vibrato, quick bend up, and adding dirt).

Hold Your Own

Being able to hold your own while playing blues involves a skill set beyond basic technique. It requires an understanding of how to blend rhythm harmonica with lead harmonica. This is one of the secrets that'll propel your playing to the next level, perhaps more than anything else. You too can become your own one-man band ... you won't need a guitarist to prop up your playing.

Do the Reps, Without Getting Bored

After a long day, no one wants to slog through boring practice. Breakthrough Blues solves this with a fun play-along system. Just play along with the videos, and you'll be putting in the required reps without even realizing it. You won’t feel overwhelmed. You’ll feel motivated and energized with doable, bite-sized lessons.

A Comprehensive Method

I’ve been developing the Breakthrough Blues harmonica method over the better part of a decade. I’ve borrowed ideas from some of the best harmonica teachers on the planet. And I’ve distilled the very best of everything I have to offer you into one complete blues system.

What the Reviews Say

“...much more comprehensive than I originally expected. Very worthwhile! Great!! Excellent use of time. JP's method of teaching is very thorough and easy to understand. Wow! Major milestone with the completion of the 12-bar solo. Great progress. I'm glad to see JP is putting in challenges that can be worked on in the future, after I'm through the course. He explains that very well.”

Bill Yost
Anaheim, CA

“JP teaches and passes on the techniques and texture that make playing the harp as musical and soulful as any instrument. He can teach someone to make the harp sing and talk to where no two harp players would be able to play exactly the same or to have a single harp player play any song the same way twice.”

Bob Peterman
Ontario, Canada

“I just stumbled onto your remarkable set of lessons that really do work! I love the more challenging things that you do in the later lessons, but you are telling your secrets! I am just starting out with the harmonica. It IS really great for the lungs. Your lessons have allowed me to "show off" some for my friends and family. I have always liked some bluesy rock and roll music, but thanks to you, a whole new world of true blues music has been opened up. The masters really rock! I love popping in a blues CD and just playing along. Sometimes it sounds really good! Thanks for all that you do.”

Jim Day
WYOMING

“JP is a caring teacher that will take you from crawling to sprinting if you stick with it. There is so much material and it follows a progression that is easy to understand and gives a goal to reach. Bottom line is that if you follow this program, you will be playing the blues harp...you will accelerate 100 fold. The bonus sections are phenomenal too.”

Greg Geracioti
Elyria, Ohio

“Thank you JP for providing such simple and yet so powerfully effective blues harmonica techniques! You have a very warm and inviting approach to your teaching style and I truly enjoy learning from you. These new lessons you have provided are extremely user friendly. These are AWESOME lessons! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!”

Hector Padro
Tampa, FLORIDA

“Simply The Best! Thumbs up! I’m learning to pick up speed! Really admire how he breaks this material down, so most anyone can learn this method. JP's teaching style is spectacular, second to none. He breaks down the required skills for each competency into small increments, while incorporating fun at the same time. He uses a lot of the “show/tell/do" methodology - showing you how to conquer a skill, telling/explaining the concept, then having you do it - as many times as need be to succeed. So not only will you be learning to play some fabulous harp tunes, you’ll be enjoying the learning experience at the same time.”

Sherry Storms
Wisconsin

Badass Blues Bonuses

Along with Breakthrough Blues, you'll also get these badass bonuses bundled with your order ...

Bluesify Your Melody is a songbook by Jon Gindick, and it's genius. One of the best things you can do for yourself as a harmonica player is to convert simple melodies (played in 1st position) to the cross-harp blues position … and then apply bending and other blues techniques to “bluesify” the melody.

It'll teach you how to make literally any song sound like a cool blues tune. You'll never think of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” the same again! Check out some of the sample audios below, and you'll see exactly what I mean.

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Will Wilde Blues Solo Masterclass

With Breakthrough Blues you'll learn a bunch of blues solos but also included is a masterclass lesson from Will Wilde. By the time you complete Breakthrough Blues you'll be ready to learn this very solo. Check it out ...

 

More Masterclass Lessons

You’ll also get bonus lessons from some of the world’s greatest harmonica players and teachers with these EXCLUSIVE lessons. (You can't get these videos anywhere else!)

Click a teacher to see a description for each bonus lesson included ...

“Wow! The bonus material itself is like a complete course, expanding on some of JP’s lessons as well as adding some new information and techniques.” Bill Yost

Is Breakthrough Blues for Me?

It IS for You...

  • If you've done my beginner course, Happy Harpin', and you're looking for the next level harmonica playing then this is for you! (If you haven’t done Happy Harpin' and are already an intermediate player I include a refresher module with this course to ensure all the core essential techniques are in place before we progress with the blues style).
  • If you're someone who's been noodling around with harmonica and is ready to learn some full-on 12-bar blues solos top to bottom.
  • If you like the idea of being able to hold your own as a one-man-band with a killer blues sound.

It's NOT for You...

  • If you're an absolute beginner who's struggling with single notes and can't play any songs at all, then this course probably isn't for you. If that sounds like you, you'd be better off going with my beginner course Happy Harpin'.
  • Breakthrough Blues is also not for advanced players. If you can easily bend all holes and rip out blues solos with the main blues techniques you don't need this course.
  • If you don't like blues music, then this is not the place for you. This course is full-on blues music, all the way.

How to Order

Getting your lessons and bonuses is secure, quick, and easy. Begin your badass blues journey seconds from now …

As soon as you complete your order, you’ll get immediate online access to the complete Breakthrough Blues course, the Bluesify Your Melody eBook and audio tracks, plus all the bonus masterclass lessons.

Just load up the lessons on your computer, laptop, tablet, or mobile device, and you can get started, right away. This includes lifetime access, so you can do the lessons at your own pace and repeat them as often as you like.

But talk is cheap. That's why Breakthrough Blues comes with a full 1-Year money-back guarantee ...

Get Lifetime Access Today

$195 / single payment
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    28+ Hours of Blues Lessons
  • Bluesify Your Melody eBook
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    28+ Hours of Blues Lessons
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What Other Teachers Say

“As one of the world's leading harmonica teachers, JP Allen has developed a unique way of leading novices across the all-important threshold that separates somebody who is THINKING about learning how to play the harmonica from somebody who is ACTUALLY playing the harmonica. I saw his gifts in action during the 'Harmonica Madness' event that we partnered on. A gentle, welcoming approach is unusual in the harmonica teaching world, but it enables him to connect with a wide range of students. There's only one harmonica.com: that's JP's world -- and yours, if you take the first step. What are you waiting for?”
- Adam Gussow (Modern Blues Harmonica)
“I’ve known JP Allen since our Northwestern University days of the mid-1980s. He’s one of my favorite people in the world. His love of life brings me joy. His passion for sharing music and connecting with others inspires me. It’s been fascinating to watch JP build a world-wide harmonica community through Harmonica.com. I appreciate the risks and challenges that he’s faced in running his own business. I’m grateful for the generosity of spirit that he has shown in supporting my work as a teaching artist. I’m excited to witness JP Allen moving forward, spreading his Joy and his enthusiasm for life and music.”
- Hal Walker
“I’m always thrilled to share my love of harmonica playing with people all over the world and equally excited to promote a love of learning about this amazing instrument. So, I’m delighted to see dedicated people like JP Allen helping to raise awareness and understanding about harmonica playing through harmonica.com, and I’m particularly excited to know that this platform reaches such a large, dedicated audience with a love for harmonica playing. I encourage everyone to explore, experiment and experience all that harmonica playing can do for you and your music. Happy harping!”
- Lee Oskar
“Harmonica.com is one of the leading harmonica education websites today. JP's method takes it easy on the learner, building confidence by providing lessons that are easy to master. Because of this, he keeps the student from giving up too soon. This enables them to gain mastery via staying with harmonica for the long haul. I am proud of my association with JP Allen and Harmonica.com”
- Michael Rubin
“I had the great pleasure of working with JP at his Hawaiian Harmonica Retreat and can attest that his passion and enthusiasm for working with students may only be surpassed by the kindness and respect he shows for all folks around him.”
- Joe Filisko
“JP was my very first harmonica instructor. He got me on the right track with my breathing which turned out to be the single most important and influential factor in the development of my playing. He made learning the harmonica "fun"!”
- Ronnie Shellist
“JP has a solid method for beginning harmonica instruction and creates a nurturing environment for his students. If you’re looking for a fun introduction into the harmonica, JP is a great person to start with.”
- David Barret
“The main qualities that strike me about JP Allen are his enthusiasm for the harmonica and passion for teaching. He will fire you up to get practicing!”
- Brendan Power
“JP Allen is one of the world’s most dedicated harmonica instructors. He makes the world a better place for people learning to play our wonderful little instrument.”
- Jon Gindick

Click the dots above to view more teacher reviews

Buddy Greene

Buddy Greene is a master at playing country blues and playing F-A-S-T. The video he provided for “Breakthrough Blues” course demonstrates how he earned this reputation. He reveals some very intricate bending techniques as well as starting a student on the path to playing lightning fast. If you’re looking to take what you’ve learned to the next level, don’t miss the challenge this video presents.”

Michael Rubin

What Makes The Blues?

In this lesson, I explain some of the most important elements of classic blues, as well as blues solos and tips on timing.

I also talk about one of the most seminal songs in harmonica history, Paul Butterfield’s “Born in Chicago.” I remember being floored by this song at age sixteen. Thirty years later, it is still one of my favorites.

In this video, I explain the song’s basic rhythm, the Charleston rhythm. I also explain the bass line. Finally, I teach you how to play Paul’s first lick.

If you understand these three foundational parts, the rest of the song falls into place easily.

Ronnie Shellist

Third Position Blues

Learning some basic third position blues riffs through the song “Telephone Blues,” by George Harmonica Smith. Find out just how approachable this exciting position is, and learn some licks with me.

Liam Ward

Magic Dick Rhythms

Learn the tricks of the trade along with me, as you study this phrase from the Magic Dick instrumental “Whammer Jammer.” The lesson covers the different rhythms Magic Dick used to keep his playing fresh and, crucially, the tongue-slap technique used to turn a single note phrase into a rich, full vamp.

Joe Filisko

Get Amped!

Here are my preferences for recorded amplified playing with Eric Noden and Glenn Kaiser, along with some of my basic guidelines on playing amplified harmonica. Amplified harmonica is a lot more than the sound of a harmonica through an amp. Learn why and how to get that classic sound, as well as some microphone hand-technique tips.

Alex Paclin

"Keep It to Yourself," by Sonny Boy Williamson

This lesson breaks down a famous blues phrasing and common blues effects. We’ll focus on the traditional blues style of playing, featuring favorite Sonny Boy tricks, such as fast throat vibrato and a strong attack. If you already can do tongue blocking, very good. If not, you can still do it using the pucker method. Practice slowly, but on tempo, gradually increasing speed when you feel more confident.

David Barret

Little Walter Study

Tongue Blocking & Little Walter, Study 1. In this lesson, I’ve written you a study song in the style of the great Little Walter and show you how to play and use one of the three main tongue-block techniques used by blues harmonica players—the “pull.” You can be a pucker player (Type 1 player)—a pucker player who primarily puckers but also knows how to tongue block single notes (Type 2 player), or a player who uses the tongue-block embouchure all the time. Each chorus represents about two weeks’ worth of study, so you’ll be busy with this lesson for about three months. This lesson is for the newly intermediate player.

Tongue Blocking & Little Walter, Study 2. In this lesson, I modify the Little Walter study song I wrote for you in Study 1 to include bending, as well as the second of the three main tongue-block techniques used by blues harmonica players—the “slap.” You can be a pucker player who primarily puckers, but also knows how to tongue block single notes (Type 2 player), or a player who uses the tongue-block embouchure all the time. Each chorus represents about two weeks’ worth of study, so you’ll be busy with this lesson for about two to three months. This lesson is for the intermediate player.

Tongue Blocking & Little Walter, Study 3. In this lesson, I modify the Little Walter study song I wrote for you in Study 2 to include more bending and the third of the three main tongue- block techniques used by blues harmonica players—the “octave.” You can be a pucker player who primarily puckers, but also knows how to tongue block (Type 2 player), or a player who uses the tongue-block embouchure all the time. Each chorus represents about two weeks’ worth of study, so you’ll be busy with this lesson for about two to three months. This lesson is for the advanced-intermediate player.

Hal Walker

Combining Rhythm and Lead

In this lesson, I offer a simple, straightforward harmonica jam that combines “rhythm” playing with “lead” playing. I think you’re gonna love it. Here’s the backstory …

While some of my buddies got their harmonica education by joining bands and jamming with others, I did most of my learning on my own. During college in the ’80s, I would wander through Chicago in search of stairwells and parking garages that had great reverberating acoustics, and I would play solo harmonica—just 10 holes and me creating a whole orchestra. Though I always appreciate playing with other musicians, I’ve spent much of my career as a solo player.

Solo harmonica playing requires that I turn this pocket-sized instrument into the whole band. With these ten holes, I provide the rhythm, the chords, the melody, and the harmony. Today’s exercise starts with an easy rhythm: just blow and draw—back and forth—push and pull. If you think about it, this is the guitar and the drums laying down a simple groove. Then the harmonica breaks away and sings a cool bluesy riff, returning to the rhythm just moments later to keep the groove going. It’s this switching between the “rhythm” and the “lead” where the magic starts to happen.

Watch the video. Watch it several times. Feel free to press pause and learn just a little bit at a time. Feel free to expand on it and make it your own. Let me know how it goes!

Brendan Power

Nailing The Foundations

Mastering Clean Notes. Too often, I hear harmonica players trying to play too fast before they’ve mastered the basics of playing clean note transitions. As a result, no matter how flashy it first appears, after a short time, their playing sounds messy and ultimately unimpressive: “much sound and fury signifying nothing.”

If you want to really master the harmonica and earn the respect of other musicians, an essential attribute in ANY style (whether it’s country, classical or blues) is to play CLEANLY. If you can play cleanly at a slow tempo, it will help you play cleanly at a fast tempo. But you can’t fast-forward without doing the slow-mo; it just doesn’t work like that.

This back-to-basics video gives you two useful exercises to help master clean note transitions. Nail these two exercises up to speed, and you will find other licks of any genre much easier to learn.

Intro to Syncopation. Syncopation is a lot of fun, and it’s a great way to inject spice and interest into your playing. You’ll hear it all the time in blues once you start to listen, as well as in jazz, country, bluegrass, and many other styles. If you haven’t tried it before, this video will help you master the most common type of syncopation: three notes over a 4/4 beat. Once you get the feel for it, you’ll find you can throw syncopation into all areas of your playing, and new ideas keep popping up. It’s a blast! So get your A harp out and play along.

Breakthrough Blues

Over 28 Hours of Badass Blues Lessons