How To Play The Harmonica For Beginners

The harmonica is a free reed wind instrument that is used in various musical genres.
The harmonica is a free reed wind instrument that is used in various musical genres.( Source : pinterest )

How To Play The Harmonica For Beginners? The harmonica is played by using the mouth to direct air pressure to generate sound.

It is a free reed wind instrument that is used in various musical genres including blues, classical music, jazz, folk, country, and rock. It is also known as a French harp or blues harp.

The instrument contains at least one reed behind each hole that vibrates when air flows across them, producing musical tunes.

Its reed serves as an airway that is flat and has an elongated spring, made up of brass, stainless steel, or bronze.

Harmonica is a portable and popular instrument that comes in different keys and types such as diatonic, chromatic, and tremolo and octave, offering a distinct range of notes and playing capabilities.

Many legendary musicians have used this instrument to add distinctive sound and emotion to their music.

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How To Play A Harmonica?

The harmonica is a compact wind instrument that produces musical notes through an interplay of air and reeds. It is appropriate for a variety of musical genres.

It is one of the easiest instruments to play and has simple notes that generate clear and piercing sounds. Even if you have never played it before you are likely to find playing some simple notes.

At first, you should hold the harmonica in one hand and cover a few holes with your lips, support and stabilize the instrument with the other hand. To learn to play harmonica you should master the art of controlling your breathing.

Then, blow air into one set of holes on the instrument and pull air while covering the other set through the use of your lips or tongue. Concentrating on clear single notes by isolating each hole from your tongue helps to create sounds.

You should also practice the technique of blending sounds by adjusting your mouth shape and air pressure. Remember that skill development takes time, and patience and practice is the key to success.

Harmonica Lessons For Beginners

As mentioned above, the harmonica is the easiest instrument to play and learn. It is suitable to create music of several genres.

It is a beginner's friendly device, that you will find yourself playing the instrument even if you have never played it before. However, learning can be slow and irritating if you learn the wrong way.

Learning the process in the right way will actually help you to develop better skills as practice is also required to get to pro-level.

Here, is the step-by-step process to learn to play harmonica for beginners:

Step-1: Get The Right Harmonica

The initial step you need to do is to get the right harmonica that is suitable for you. Mostly beginners go with the 10-hole diatonic harmonica in the key of C. It is the most common key suitable to learn the techniques.

Step-2: Know Basic Techniques

The first thing you need to know is how to hold a harmonica. Many harmonica players encounter this problem in the beginning.

You can hold the instrument in your left hand with the number on the top hole 1 on the left, and hole 10 on the right. Here, hole 1 is the lowest note and hole 10 is the highest.

There are mainly two methods of playing harmonica which are explained below:

  • Pucker method: To start this method you should keep your lips relaxed first. When you exhale or inhale you will notice multiple notes, now you push your lips outward, until you get a single, clear note.
  • Tongue method: To use this technique, first you should relax your mouth, then cover the holes that you don't want to cover with your tongue. It is often used to 'split' notes, letting you play two notes by putting your tongue in between them.

Step 3: Breath Control

To play harmonica, you should master controlling your breathing. Develop control over your breathing to create a consistent and slow airflow playing.

Step 4: Try Playing Simple Songs

Here is how you can try playing harmonica with simple and easy melodies.

Step 5: Learn Blending Notes

Blending is the process in harmonica to change the pitch of a note. It is used so that we can blend the notes down in pitch to get lower.

However, it is a hard technique to learn at first but when you get used to it, it is the easiest method. It is not a beginner technique, so make sure you have learned every step mentioned above before trying this.

Here, you can learn through this video.

Through, this method and technique you can get mastered at playing harmonica. But, remember that learning is a gradual process and patience is required in every field you learn.

How To Read Harmonica Tabs?

Reading tabs is an essential part of learning to play harmonica. This will make your learning process easier and simpler.

Before getting into it, you should know about the 10-hole diatonic harmonica that is numbered from 1 on the left to 10 on the right. Here, hole 1 is the lowest pitch whereas hole 10 is the highest.

First, you should know what numbers indicate which hole to blow.

  • 1 means to blow hole 1
  • 2 means to blow a hole 2
  • Similarly, 12 means blow holes 1&2 at the same time, also known as double-stop.
  • And 123 means blow holes 1, 2 & 3 at the same time, which is known as a chord.

Secondly, a minus sign followed by the numbers also indicates which hole to draw.

  • -1 means to draw on hole 1
  • -2 means to draw on hole 2
  • Likewise, -12 which is known as double-stop, means to draw holes 1 & 2 at the same time.
  • Also, -123 is a chord which means to draw 1, 2, & 3 holes at the same time.

This is all you need to know to be able to play beginners' tracks on harmonica.

Best Harmonica For Beginners

The right instrument is required for beginners that are easy and suitable for them. There are huge numbers of harmonicas that are made beginners-friendly.

Many high-quality and affordable instruments are available in the marketplace nowadays. It might be confusing for someone to pick the best possible option as a beginner.

So, here is the list of five harmonicas that are especially made for beginners only.

1. Hohner Special 20

The Hohner Special 20 is the overall beginner harmonica.
The Hohner Special 20 is the overall beginner harmonica.( Source : amazon )

The Hohner Special 20 is the beginner harmonica available in the market.

This diatonic harp features professional-level design along with quality and affordability, perfect for any musical style.

2. Hohner Marine Band Harmonica

Hohner Marine Band Harmonica is the best wood comb harmonica.
Hohner Marine Band Harmonica is the best wood comb harmonica.( Source : amazon )

Similar to Special 20, Hohner Marine Harmonica is a classic harp, made up of pearwood comb.

It is the best wood comb harmonica appropriate for beginners, classic and vintage-minded people won't accept any substitute for this.

3. Fender Blues Deluxe Harmonica

Fender Blues Deluxe Harmonica is the budget-friendly for beginners.
Fender Blues Deluxe Harmonica is the budget-friendly for beginners.( Source : amazon )

One of the best-budgeted harmonicas for beginners, the Fender Blues Deluxe Harmonica features Fender quality and style, that will be suitable for anyone.

Coming from one of the most trusted brands, this harp is everything you need to get started with.

4. Lee Oskar Harmonica

Lee Oskar Harmonica is best harmonica for single notes.
Lee Oskar Harmonica is best harmonica for single notes.( Source : amazon )

Lee Oskar Harmonica is the best for single notes which is available at the beginner's price point.

Made by Lee Oskar in 1983, this harp is styled with easy repair and maintenance in mind.

5. Seydel Blues Classic 1847

Seydel Blues Classic 1847 is one of the best diatonic harmonica.
Seydel Blues Classic 1847 is one of the best diatonic harmonica.( Source : amazon )

If you are looking for the best diatonic harmonica then Seydel Blues Classic would be a nice choice.

The harp features a high level of craftmanship and good quality materials which is just perfect for beginners.

Types of Harmonica

There are three types of harmonica mentioned below:

Diatonic Harmonica$35-$90
Chromatic Harmonica$120-$250
Tremolo Harmonicaabove $60

1. Diatonic Harmonica

Diatonic harmonica is the most common harmonica used in American music which is the least expensive and durable among three harmonicas.

This is the standard 10-hole harp, best for the Blues music genre.

It is a beginner's friendly and durable instrument that is easy to play and learn.

2. Chromatic Harmonica

One of the most expensive among the three harmonicas is the chromatic harmonica which is best for playing chromatic kinds of music like jazz.

It comes in 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16-hole versions where 12 hole version is most common. It is less durable than diatonic harmonica.

3. Tremolo Harmonica

The tremolo harmonica is used for playing traditional songs but it is not suitable for playing blues music.

It has a distinctive beating sound that gives chorus, tremolo, or vibrato effects.

However, some models can be difficult to play and is not a beginner-friendly instrument.

Harmonica Songs For Beginners

Harmonica Songs For Beginners are 1. Alouette 2. Ode to Joy 3. Mary Had a Little Lamb 4. Camptown Races and others.

The easy harmonica songs are listed below:

  • Alouette
  • Ode to Joy
  • Mary Had a Little Lamb
  • Camptown Races
  • Oh Susanna
  • When the Saints Go Marching In
  • This Old Man
  • Jingle Bells
  • Home Sweet Home
  • Happy Birthday

The notes of the songs are mainly in the middle register ie., holes 4 to 7. These are the simple songs that contain the easiest notes but to play them you shove have good control over all the middle register notes.

1. Oh Susanna

Oh, Susanna is a classic folk song that has a catchy melody easy to play on harmonica, especially for beginners.

It blends several traditional kinds of music and the first two phases of the song contain a major pentatonic scale.

2. Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday is an occasional song played for special celebrations like birthdays.

Its tunes are easy to play on harmonica as the notes of the song are easy and simple.

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