Hello! In today's harmonica lesson we'll be solving three common blues harmonica problems. I hope you enjoy the lesson!
Problem #1: Getting out of breath
Although playing harmonica can improve your lung capacity, playing well is not all about having good lungs. The key is the following: breathe, don't heave. You need to control your breath. If you're pulling and pushing the air, it will make you out of breath. Think of the air coming in and out of your lungs naturally. The harmonica will actually play with very little effort. The reeds will vibrate easily and the instrument is probably playing louder than you think. If you lie in your back, you'll naturally breathe in and out deeply but without heaving the air, so you can use this as a practice exercise.
Problem #2: Bad two draw note
The 2 draw is maybe the most difficult note to play, so it's normal to experience problems with playing it right. The first thing is to compare it directly with the 3 blow note. They should be the same note so if you're getting a different sound then there's a problem. If it feels stuck, don't pull harder, instead relax and breathe softer. It's almost always down to too much force rather than there being anything wrong with the reed or the harmonica. This is a case of mind over matter. Trust that the note will play, and it will!
Problem #3: Bends not working
Bending takes time, so please be patient! I have been bending notes for years and they're still not perfect. We're all on the same learning path. Here are some tips to help you along the way:
You will only get a bend on holes 1-6 draw and 7-10 blow (so if you try 1-6 blow or 7-10 draw then it's not gonna happen!)
Try a different key of harp. It might suit your anatomy slightly better and then it'll open the floodgates to other keys.
Be mindful. Practice with no distractions, in a quiet room, at a time of day when you feel alert. Record your practice and listen back to track your progress.
Practice bending in slow motion. That way you can be conscious of what you're doing and make micro-adjustments. This will help give you the muscle memory to produce and maintain a bend.
Think of a whistle descending in pitch. The same change of shape will help you to get a bend.
Thanks for studying with me today. I hope you enjoyed the lesson!
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