top of page

What I've learnt from 200,000 harmonica players

Firstly I want to say a massive thank you to you.

Recently I reached 200,000 subscribers on YouTube. I am so grateful that so many people across the world have enjoyed my lessons. Whether you subscribe to my YouTube channel or not I feel that I have learnt so much from each and every one of my students.

What's more, I know I have definitely learnt more from you than the other way round.

I've made this video to share with you everything I've been taught. Hopefully those insights can help you, whatever level you are at!

Here's what harmonica players worldwide can teach you

Lessons from Beginner Harmonica Players

When I first started playing harmonica, I wanted to be the best, and I wanted it to happen overnight. I've taught many beginners who have the same attitude. Enthusiasm and desire are both great things, but you have to channel them in the right way when you're just starting out.

Laying a strong foundation is crucial, and that starts with the "holy trinity": crystal-clear single notes, rock-solid rhythm, and smooth, effortless breath control. These aren't flashy, but they're the bricks and mortar of your harmonica castle.

Imagine trying to build a great castle on shaky foundations. You'll be frustrated, and the building will wobble. That's why slow, mindful practice of single notes simple melodies is your friend. Grab a metronome, your trusty harp, and get comfortable with those basic notes. Each clean "do, re, mi" is a stone you carefully set, each rhythmic beat the mortar that binds them. Don't rush; let the muscle memory build, and soon you'll be crafting sturdy musical arches over that solid foundation.

And don't forget the breath! Your lungs are the windmills powering your castle, so learn to control their steady flow. Practice long, sustained notes, holding a single melody as if it were a kite on a gentle breeze. With these basic skills mastered, you'll be ready to climb higher, tackle those juicy bends, and build your harmonica castle into a soaring blues palace.

Lessons from Intermediate Harmonica Players

Many intermediate harmonica players lose their inspiration or sense of direction because they don't know what to learn after they've mastered the basics. You're playing tunes and bending notes already, so where do you turn next?

The best thing to do right now is seek inspiration from someone who's further along the road than you. Maybe it's the soulful wail of Sonny Boy Williamson, the fiery bends of Junior Wells, or the guy down the local blues jam. Whoever it is, find an artist whose music makes your heart skip a beat and your toes tap.

Dive into their licks, analyze their phrasing, and let their style wash over you. Learn their signature phrases, but don't just copy – absorb! Use their magic as a compass, not a GPS. Don't just mimic, internalize! Let their voice inspire your own unique expression, your own musical fingerprint on the harmonica landscape.

Attend jams, workshops, and concerts. Find your local harmonica hero, the one who lights up the stage with their own fire. Watch, listen, and soak up their energy. Share the stage, if you dare, and learn from their experience. Your harmonica compass will point you towards new territories, unique licks, and the confidence to forge your own musical path.

Lessons from Advanced Harmonica Players

As an advanced player, you have most of the tools of the instrument at your disposal. You can play a range of styles and grooves, bend and maybe overblow a little, plus improvise confidently. So what sets the professionals apart from the advanced enthusiasts?

The pros are seasoned warriors. They've honed their harmonica into a razor-sharp weapon. If you want to keep improving as an advanced harmonica player, it's time for structured routines, targeted drills, and deliberate practice.

Identify your weaknesses, those tricky bends, the shaky rhythms, the elusive nuances. Craft exercises that pinpoint those flaws, isolating them like a blacksmith hammering a specific part of a blade. Use slow-motion drills, focused repetition, and metronome precision to train your muscles and your mind. Each practice session is a battle, each successful rep a victory that strengthens your musical arsenal.

But it's not just about brute force. Quality trumps quantity, so be mindful of your practice time. Be present, focused, and intentional. Analyse, evaluate, and adjust. Embrace the discomfort of pushing your limits, for that's where growth lies. With each drop of sweat and each conquered challenge, your harmonica becomes a sharper, more versatile instrument, ready to slice through any musical obstacle.

Remember, building your harmonica skills is a lifelong journey. With dedication, these tips will be your map, your compass, and your sword. Now, go forth and unleash your musical magic!

I hope you enjoy this video. Get in touch if you have any questions.

Get Better Faster with my Online Harmonica School

If you are keen to improve your playing, start your free trial of my harp school today. Click here for more details

Banner advertsising online harmonica school
Blues Harmonica Courses



Harmonica school free trial link
Free beginner course link
school TOP (1000 x 200 px).png

Get Started for Free

Free lessons, tips and tricks straight to your inbox

bottom of page