Here are the tips we would like to give you to facilitate the musical and technical approach to the harmonica by mouth. Usually this small instrument has ten holes from which the sound is emitted.
As a first tip, practice these simple and practical exercises:
- Put the harmonica on your lips and tighten it as if you were emitting a whistle. This technique is called whistle, the easiest way to start playing the harmonica by mouth.
- As a second step you will have to blow into the first hole trying to make a clean and clear sound, avoiding to make the reeds of the other holes vibrate.
- As a third step you will have to breathe in, trying not to do so with too much energy to avoid producing distorted and untuned sounds. Try above all to play one hole at a time, without being in a hurry to make more complex chords.
If you’ve been able to make a sound from each of the individual holes, we can now go through the next step: facing a song. Let’s start with the most classic of chords, the C (fourth hole), and after you’ve blown and inhaled, move on to the next hole. In this way you will have performed the progression Do, Re and Mi.
To start playing the harmonica by mouth you need to find the right method for breathing. You start from the technical assumption that this is the only one, among wind instruments, in which pauses are necessary to breathe. To be able to harmonize several notes at a time, it will be useful to play chords by blowing in two or three holes at the same time. It will therefore be important to have better control over your mouth and breath. Another step is to be able to move smoothly from single notes to chords. When you know how to do this, your playing will take a big step forward. Once you have reached this stage, you can decide whether to continue on your own or consult specific texts for the study of the harmonica or entrust yourself to private lessons.
Phrasing With the Harmonica
One element to deal with is that of phrasing, which provides for a constant alternation between inspiration and breath. You can understand this technique with the jump of the holes, which allows you to hear brilliant sounds and more complex musical phrases. The next step to achieve sufficient mastery of the instrument is to hold the harmonica correctly. Your hands will have to form a shape similar to the cup. You have to place the palm of your right hand under the thumb of your left hand: this position creates a sort of sound box that can improve the sound and timbre of your instrument.
Once you have tried this important step, you should learn how to plug the holes correctly with the help of the tongue. With this technique you can simply change individual notes into pleasant chords. You have to use the tip of the tongue to prevent some notes from playing and then remove it immediately to make them resonate. To achieve a minimum of elasticity you will need to practice patiently.
Once you have overcome this “obstacle”, you will be ready to use this instrument with ease.