How To Play a Harmonica

Knowing how to play the harmonica is a rewarding experience because there are a range of music genres you could play the instrument in. Playing the harmonica even seems as something natural as breathing.  The following are some helpful tips about playing the harmonica.

Pick a type.  The most common types of harmonica are chromatic and diatonic.  The chromatic harmonica has a complete set of 16 notes, and it is used in classical music, pop music and jazz.  The diatonic harmonica has only 10 notes but through the use of techniques such as bending, the missing notes can played.  This kind of harmonica is heard in blues, country folk music and rock music.

Learn to breathe.  Playing the harmonica is good to the ears and also to the lungs.  Unlike most wind instruments, the harmonica can be played not only by exhaling but also by inhaling.  In fact, in harmonica playing, your inhales are called draw while your exhales are called blow.  Playing the harmonica requires that you breathe strongly and properly using your diaphragm.  You could tell that you are doing diaphragmatic breathing by doing this simple test: place your hand on your belly while you take a deep breath and exhale.  When your hand moves outward then inward, then you are ready to play the harmonica.  Remember to put your harmonica further in your mouth to make it easier to play.

Play it properly.  The proper way to hold the harmonica is holding it by its ends, and the numbers labeling the holes are visible.  You play it by drawing and blowing through the mouthpiece.  The lower notes are on the left side, and as you move towards the right, the pitch goes higher by a half-step.  In doing so, you would hear a chord; for example, if you played the key of C, you would hear the notes C, E, and G simultaneously.   Master the coordination of your lips, your mouth and your throat.  To make it sound better, remember to clean your harmonica when you’re not using it by shaking off saliva that makes their way to the reeds.      

Practice makes perfect.  In practicing, it is best that you begin with the basics like proper breathing and proper hand positions.  Also, you could start out by playing single notes before progressing to melodies.  If you have mastered these, you could move on to chord creation and actual song performance.  You could also try out techniques such as bending (blowing and drawing on specific notes to produce a different note) and vibrato (making a ‘shaky’ note).  You could also master the different harmonica positions (set of notes to be played in a certain scale) such as the straight harp, the cross harp and the slant harp, would produce a variety of sounds.

Be motivated.  This is just a basic introduction to harmonica playing, and the road towards harmonica playing perfection is excitingly endless.  Have fun seeking out seminars, tutorials and performances or practicing and performing yourself.  It is guaranteed to be a breathtakingly good experience.


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