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5 top reasons to try tongue blocking - Beginner Blues Harmonica Lesson

Hello! In today's harmonica lesson I'll give you a rundown of my top five great things about tongue blocking.

You might also want to try my full step-by-step tongue blocking course.

Reason #1: Tongue splits

By using your tongue to split the airflow, you can play two non-adjacent notes at once. For example, playing 3 and 6 blow together giving you an octave interval. This technique relies on your mouth being four holes wide, then you block the middle two holes with your tongue. In fact, it's such a great technique that most lip-pursers learn this technique too. But it's much easier if you're tongue blocking though, as it just requires a small tongue movement to switch between single notes and splits.

Reason #2: Tongue slaps

For this technique, we're literally 'slapping' the tongue on and off the instrument, producing a rhythmic alternation between single note and chord. This is a fantastic way to add depth to your playing and fill out your sound whether you're playing unaccompanied or with a band.

Reason #3: Flutters

A flutter is sort of like a fast slap. When it's done fast enough, it produces a subtle rhythmic effect with a "flutter" sound to it. As with octaves and slaps, it can be done on lots of different notes on the instrument. This works well for blues and also for traditional folk music.

Reason #4: Sweeps

Like flutters, sweeps provide rhythmic backing but the difference is we're swiping our tongue left and right rather than on and off. This means we're getting two notes alternated at speed. It's a lovely texture and can add a lot to your playing.

Reason #5: Emulating your heroes

If you are listening to classic blues harp, it's likely you've come across tongue blocking. If you want to copy the techniques your heroes are doing, you might be missing out if you don't tongue block because you won't be able to play some of the textures that you're hearing in your favourite tracks.

Thanks for studying with me today. I hope you enjoyed the lesson!

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