HOW TO PLAY HARMONICA - Lesson 1 - SINGLE NOTES - Bajan Piedpiper
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Uploaded on Jun 23, 2009
MUSIC 101 It has been said "a harmonica is the world's greatest musical instrument." Played with pizzazz it sure sounds sweet!
There is one thing I can surely promise you ~ if you will view this video, study and visit the links given in these notes, FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS... if you will be patient and persistent and refrain from becoming frustrated... you will succeed in learning to play harmonica!
It does not matter what skill it is, ALL SKILLS require PRACTICE ... just take it one step at a time and you will succeed.
Ok! One of the first things you notice when you try to play a harmonica is that you'll play more than one note at the same time, this is because the holes are small and close together... Even though you will sometimes use chords formed by playing more than one note at a time, your first task is to play a clean, clear single note ... this is necessary to properly play the melody of a song or riff.
So ... to get good clear single notes is your first 'assignment.'
Here is the technique:
1) Wet your lips with your tongue so the harp can move easily from hole to hole.
2) Move the harp and not your head!
3) Purse (pucker) your lips as when whistling or drinking through a straw. Cover the holes on the harmonica with your lips except the one hole you want to play. Your pucker should be about the size of a pencil eraser.
4) Place the harp well into your lips ... do not have it out on the front.
5) Inhale, exhale gently on the hole... BREATHING FROM YOUR ABDOMEN... and NOT from your mouth or throat.
If the harp is not well into your lips the tone will be airy and thin. Your lips have to be open enough to allow room for one complete hole. If you pucker too much you will lose volume and tone. If you don't pucker enough you will get multiple notes... This takes practice!! Just practice, practice, practice! ... and it'll happen !
It would be superfluous of me to demonstrate what so many good examples on YouTube are already showing ... watch these particular sites ... they show you exactly how it's done - click on the links:
There is one particular note on every harp that usually gives beginners a problem and that is the draw note on the number 2 hole. It does not matter what key the harmonica is, draw hole #2 will always give you trouble in the beginning. Most of the other reeds are more forgiving of technique, so they will make some sound with almost any attack. But two draw, and sometimes three draw as well, are not so forgiving...
You will need to experiment with the shape of your oral cavity and your breath pressure until you get the right combination to make the reed sound, and once you get it to sound, to find the combination that makes it sound good.
In general, try cutting down on the amount of air you are trying to draw through the reed and at the same time try to enlarge the inside of your mouth. Once you have this figured out it will become second nature to adjust your attack on each note to make it sound its best.
Jumping from one note to a high or low note a few spaces away, will take practice as well. At the moment it will seem very hard, but you end up getting a feeling for the spacing of the notes once you've played a bit.
While playing the harmonica, your mouth and jaw must be relaxed. This will feel a little strange at first... keeping your lips puckered for a good seal while at the same time keeping your jaw somewhat relaxed. You will also need to drop your jaw slightly to create an open cavern in your mouth. IT'S THIS "CAVERN" THAT CREATES A FULL RICH TONE.
NEXT: IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT PRACTICE ... YOUR BODY REMEMBERS WHATEVER IT REPEATS. This is called muscle memory. Every time you play something, right or wrong, your body is learning it. Take your time when you practice, do it slowly and CORRECTLY and play it many times, over and over, and over, slowly and CORRECTLY. This creates what is called a "good habit." DO NOT PRACTICE MISTAKES ! ! ! When you make a mistake STOP and play it over.
On! On! On! - Now, what else..... LEARN TO PLAY SOME SONGS! It's a good idea to learn some songs while working on mastering single notes ... it will counter any mortification you may feel while going through the "learning-to-play-single-notes" phase :)
Go to these sites and you'll find songs with tabs and plenty valuable information...
LEARN THE SONG FROM THE TAB SHEET ... THEN THROW IT AWAY AND PLAY FROM MEMORY. Why memorize the song and throw away the tab sheet? Space has run out ~ PLEASE GO TO LESSON 2 WHERE THIS ANSWER AND MUCH MORE ESSENTIAL INFORMATION AWAITS YOU. Click here ~
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