Hello! In today's harmonica lesson I'll teach you a simple trick to get a great harmonica sound even if you're a complete beginner.
This lesson is about the secret to harmonica success... and if you do what I say you'll sound great right from the start!
The Tight Pucker
If you'd got yourself a new harmonica and you're wondering what to do next, STOP! Before you go any further, I want to help you avoid the #1 mistake that beginner harmonica players make. It's a simple mistake: tense lips. If you tense your lip muscles then you'll never get a big bluesy tone on the harmonica. The word 'pucker' is used to describe the mouthshape for getting single notes, but it's a misleading word. Actually the mouthshape is quite different from a pucker.
So, the important thing to remember is...
DON'T DO THIS:
The Tight Pucker
The Deep Tone Shape
The word 'pucker' is used for a reason. It described how narrow your mouth has to be in order to isolate a single hole on the harmonica, and therefore play a clean note. Puckering your lips may help you to play a single note, but your tone will be bad and you will have to use a lot of air just to get a sound. This method will also make it way more difficult to bend notes (bending is that amazing wailing sound that has helped to make the harmonica such a popular instrument). So to avoid the pucker, we're going to do something else instead: the Deep Tone Shape.
Here is the easiest and quickest way to make great sounds on the harmonica.
The 3 Steps to Harmonica Success
Step 1: Moisten and relax your lips
Hold the harmonica in your left hand with the numbers facing up (hole 1 on the left, hole 10 on the right). Lick your lips and relax.
Step 2: Drop your jaw
Keep your jaw low and your tongue relaxed. Don't overthink it because this can cause you to reintroduce unnecessary tension.
Step 3: Place the harmonica deep into your mouth
Place the harmonica deep into your mouth, further than you might expect you'd have to. This is crucial for getting a good seal around the instrument (more on that below).
What does the perfect mouthshape look like?
If you're doing these steps correctly, your mouth should look like this:
Notice that my upper lip is really quite far over the harmonica. Check in a mirror to see if your lip is the same.
Just as important, if not more important, is the bottom lip. Make sure that it is also over the harmonica and is loose and relaxed. If you pull it down with your finger then it should move easily and bounce against the bottom of the harmonica. If it's hard to move, you are using way too much tension.
And that's it. Congratulations, you've got a Deep Tone Shape!
What does the perfect mouthshape sound like?
Trust me, it sounds awesome! Listen to any great harmonica player and they will be using some version of this shape. This mouthshape is a necessarily foundation for everything that is yet to come. It will make it easier to play songs, bend notes and do loads of other awesome techniques that I teach at my school. You will thank yourself in the future for the time you have put in today!
Get Better, Faster!
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