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HarmonicaLessons.com presents

Vol.1: Beginners Start Here


[from the Beginning Diatonic Harmonica Book Series]

By

Dave Gage

Published by:

AYM Music
II Copyright 2008

HarmonicaLessons.com presents:

Vol. 1: Beginners Start Here


[from the Beginning Diatonic Harmonica Book Series] First Printing: June 2008 Published by AYM Music: AYM Music / HarmonicaLessons.com P.O. Box 24097 Los Angeles, CA 90024 Copyright 2008 AYM Music All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Contact us online at: http://www.harmonicalessons.com/contact.html Visit our websites at: http://harmonicalessons.com http://harmonicastore.com (If you are connected to the Internet, click on above links to visit them.) ISBN: 978-0-6152-3716-9

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Table of Contents
(click on titles below to link to page)
Introduction...................................................................................................... 1

Chapter 1: Getting Started................................................................................. Which Harmonica Do I Need?................................................................................. Simple Technique Tips.......................................................................................... General Playing Tips............................................................................................. Recommended Extras........................................................................................... Good to Know...................................................................................................... Chapter 2: General Overview............................................................................. Diatonic vs. Chromatic Harmonica.......................................................................... 1st & 2nd Position Overview.................................................................................. Positions Chart..................................................................................................... Terms & Denitions.............................................................................................. Chapter 3: Playing Techniques.......................................................................... Single Notes........................................................................................................ Holding/Hand Effects............................................................................................ Bending.............................................................................................................. Breathing............................................................................................................ Chapter 4: Songs............................................................................................... Major Scale......................................................................................................... Mary Had a Little Lamb......................................................................................... Row, Row, Row Your Boat..................................................................................... Brahms Lullaby................................................................................................... Jingle Bells.......................................................................................................... Frere Jacques (Are You Sleeping)........................................................................... Oh Susanna......................................................................................................... Alouette.............................................................................................................. Joy To The World.................................................................................................. Home on the Range.............................................................................................. Amazing Grace.....................................................................................................

3 3 6 7 8 10 11 11 13 15 17 21 22 24 26 30 35 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47

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Chapter 5: Jamming............................................................................................ Jamming Overview................................................................................................. The "Almost Blues Scale"......................................................................................... ABS Riffs............................................................................................................... "When In Doubt" (Improv Tips)................................................................................ Chapter 6: Lesson Plans...................................................................................... Week 1................................................................................................................. Week 2................................................................................................................. Week 3................................................................................................................. Week 4................................................................................................................. Week 5................................................................................................................. Week 6................................................................................................................. Chapter 7: Frequently Asked Questions............................................................... Starting Out.......................................................................................................... Harmonica Purchases.............................................................................................. Playing Technique.................................................................................................. Theory and Jamming Questions................................................................................ Advanced/Miscellaneous.......................................................................................... Repairs and Maintenance......................................................................................... Chapter 8: One Liner Tips.................................................................................... Starting Out.......................................................................................................... General Tips.......................................................................................................... Technique............................................................................................................. Becoming More Musical........................................................................................... Chapter 9: *Free Audio/Video Examples for this Book......................................... Final Words......................................................................................................... About Dave Gage.................................................................................................

49 49 51 52 54 57 57 58 59 60 61 62 65 65 68 70 73 74 76 81 81 83 84 85 89 91 92

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VI

Introduction
Welcome to Volume One of the Beginning Diatonic Harmonica Book Series from HarmonicaLessons.com! This book is a great introduction to begin playing a standard 10-hole diatonic harmonica. You DO NOT need prior harmonica or music experience to start learning today. Harmonica is not nearly as easy as most people would have you believe, but we've done our best to make learning to play it as simple and straight forward as possible. You'll begin with basic techniques, songs, the "Almost Blues Scale" and simple blues riffs. But, stick with it, and soon you will graduate to jamming blues, rock, country, bending notes, and sounding like the pros. Although this book and the website are each stand-alone learning devices, the two compliment each other. Some sections of this book contain references to free additional information that is available at HarmonicaLessons.com, as well as free audio/video playing examples (see Chapter 9 for details). We encourage you to take advantage of it if you have a computer and access to the Internet. Tip: If you nd a musical or harmonica-related word or phrase that you are unfamiliar with, look for it within the Terms & Denition section at the end of Chapter 2. We've tried to dene any term that might be new for a beginner. There are a few important points we make that are found in multiple sections of this book (i.e. what appears to be a "bad" hole 2 Draw is almost always a problem with playing technique and not the harmonica itself). This is not an error. Since we truly believe these to be important points, they are included wherever appropriate for the particular subject. Before you get started, remember, have fun with your harmonica! That's why you picked it up in the rst place. We hope you've just found yourself a new passion to last a lifetime. Play on, Dave Gage & Your friends at: http://www.harmonicalessons.com http://www.harmonicastore.com http://www.davegage.com

*Special E-Book edition- This version contains features not found in the hard copy book and includes: color photographs, linked page titles in the Table of Contents (click to go to the page or chapter), and if you are connected to the Internet, live links to our websites (see blue underlined links above).

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Chapter 1 : Getting Started


Chapter Includes: Which Harmonica Do I Need? Simple Technique Tips General Playing Tips Recommended Extras Good to Know

1
Getting Started

Getting Started
Welcome to Chapter 1we're ready to get started. First of all, let's make sure you have the correct type of harmonica for the instruction in this book. Next, you'll nd some quick technique and general info tips to get you started playing right away. When you're ready to advance further, you will nd more detailed information on these subjects in the following chapters, and within other volumes of our "Beginning Diatonic Harmonica Book Series".

Which Harmonica Do I Need?


You will need a standard 10-hole diatonic harmonica in the key of "C" for much of the instruction in this book. Double-rowed harmonicas (sometimes 8, 10, or 12 sets of double holes) are called Tremolo harmonicas and they are not the proper type of harmonica for our instruction. Keep reading for an explanation of the differences between standard diatonic and chromatic harmonicas.

Recommended harmonica: Lee Oskar or Hohner Special 20 diatonic in the key of "C".

Key of "C" Diatonic (standard 10-hole) Harmonica- You'll need a good quality diatonic type harmonica to learn and practice on with hole numbers imprinted above each hole. The standard 10-hole diatonic harmonica is used for most blues, folk, rock, and country styles. We like the Lee Oskar Major Diatonic and the Hohner Special 20 (both in the key of "C") best for players just starting out. The Lee Oskar has consistent volume, tone, and durability, and clearly states your 1st and 2nd Position keys (positions are explained in Chapter 2) on the ends.

The Hohner Special 20 is also one of the best diatonics around for the money. They may not last as long as some other models, but like the Lee Oskar, they sound and play great. (Can't decide? Pick one, and try the other when you need to buy another key.) Will my harmonica work with this book?- If your harmonica is not a standard 10-hole diatonic as previously described, you should try to obtain one because other types of harmonicas will not work well with this book. Tremolo harmonicas and chromatic harmonicas are not the proper type of harmonica for this book's instruction.

Stick with a basic 10-hole harmonica in the key of "C"- Diatonic harmonicas come in all twelve keys ("G", "Ab", "A", "Bb", "B", "C", "Db", "D", "Eb", "E", "F", "F#"), but for beginners it's easier if you start with a basic 10-hole harmonica in the key of "C". Generally speaking, the "G" harmonicas are very low and the "F" and "F#" harmonicas are very high pitch-wise, while the "C" is right in the middle. Key of "C" harmonicas are also the most common, and they also make understanding music theory much easier. Should I buy other key diatonic harmonicas as well?As you improve and begin to play with others or start playing along with CDs, you will want to pick up some of the other key diatonics. The keys of "C", "A", "D", "F", and "G" are a good place to startin roughly that order. The key of harmonica you need is determined by the key the song is in and the key of the song is usually set by the singer. If you are not playing along with other people or with CDs, all you need is a key of "C" for now. Will a key other than "C" work with this book? - You should note that all keys of standard 10-hole diatonic harmonicas are laid out and played the same way. That is, if you already own a standard 10-hole diatonic in a key other than the key of "C" (like an "A" or "D" for instance), it will work for the instruction and songs in this book. But, make the key of "C" your next purchase. A cheap harmonica is tough to learn on- Prices may vary, but it is best to buy one for no less than $20, because a cheap harmonica can be extremely difcult to learn on. Poor construction of inexpensive harmonicas causes them to leak air and makes them hard to play and difcult to learn important techniques like bending notes. Avoid these diatonics, and possibly "upgrade"- Avoid wooden combed harmonicas if you are just starting out for the same air leak problems mentioned in the last bullet point. The harmonicas that are included in the "Book with CD and Harmonica" packages are not recommended either. These are very inexpensive harmonicas and are included in the package

1
Getting Started

Pick up additional keys when you are ready to play with others and jam with CDs.

for convenience, but are typically low quality instruments. If you have any serious intentions at all with the harmonica, you should plan on an "upgrade". Should I buy a used one?- This is entirely up to you. But, we don't recommend it for obvious health reasons, and the fact that a brand new pro quality diatonic is between $20 and $60. Also, harmonicas do wear out over time. It's best to start with one that you know is in good condition and plays in tune. The Chromatic Harmonica is not appropriate for the instruction in this bookNumerous techniques and theory are applicable for both diatonic and chromatic harmonicas, but this book is designed for diatonic. For chromatic harmonica instruction, songs, and information, visit the chromatic harmonica section within the Members Area at HarmonicaLessons.com. Tremolo and "odd" harmonicas are not appropriate for the instruction in this bookAs mentioned earlier, double-row harmonicas (sometimes 8, 10, 12, or more sets of double holes) are called Tremolo harmonicas and will not work well with the instruction in this book. This is not to say there is anything wrong with them, but they will not work with the song tablature, much of the theory, and the bending technique.

Common Tremolo type harmonicas.

Simple Technique Tips


Holding the Harmonica/Playing Single Notes- For now, merely hold the harmonica on the ends with the numbers imprinted over the holes facing uphole number "1" to your left and hole number "10" to the right (low notes are to the left like on a piano). When you blow and draw (exhale and inhale), with the harmonica placed in your mouth, the sound you make is called a chord (two or more notes played simultaneously). This is ne for getting startedyou can play the songs from Chapter 4 with this "chord-y" sound for the rst few weeks. When you are ready to get serious with your rst playing technique, you should start with the Single Note Technique (explained in Chapter 3) so that your songs and riffs will come out clear, distinct, and recognizable. After a few weeks of practice, when you've become fairly comfortable and consistent with the single notes, you can then work on the more sophisticated method of holding/hand effects (also in Chapter 3).

Beginning method of holding -- low notes (hole number "1") to your left.

Breathing- There is no need at this point to be overly concerned with breathing technique. Do avoid pushing and pulling (sucking) the air with your lips. Stay relaxed, and when you blow (exhale), try to focus the air through the harmonica and not just into it. On the draw notes (inhale), concentrate on bringing the air through the harmonica and through your mouth, deep into the bottom of your lungs, past your chest. Problems with hole 2 Draw (and other draw notes)- It is normal for new players to have problems with hole 2 draw, other low draw holes, and the high draw notes. In 99% of the cases, with a decent quality harmonica, it is the player's technique and not a bad harmonica at fault. After a few weeks or so, take a look at the Breathing technique section in Chapter 3 for more detailed information if you are still having problems. If you stick with songs that are played between holes 4 through 7 on your key of "C" diatonic, you should not experience too much trouble with the blow or draw notes. For now, ignore hole 2 Draw. If needed, you can substitute hole 3 Blow (which is the same pitch as hole 2 Draw) when hole 2 Draw is required.

General Playing Tips


1. Good posture- When playing and practicing, stand erect with your head up, back straight, and body relaxed. 2. Knock out excess saliva- Get in the habit of frequently rapping the harmonica (mouthpiece side down) against your leg or palm to knock out the excess saliva and condensation from your breath that accumulates inside the harmonica. 3. Rinse your mouth after eating- Avoid allowing small food particles (or any small particles for that matter) to enter your harmonica. They tend to cause problems sooner or later. 4. Lick your lips and the mouthpiece- If you nd your lips sticking to the harmonica when you slide or move from hole to hole, lick your lips and the mouthpiece part of the harmonica before playing. Saliva works best for this purpose, you do not need additional lubricants. If fact, they tend to cause more problems (in the long run) than they will solve. 5. Move the harmonica, keep head still- Attempt to move the harmonica and not your head when going from hole to hole. Use a mirror to view your actual movement. 6. Do you have the right harmonica for this book?- Don't try to learn to bend notes or play blues without the proper type of harmonica. See the rst section of this chapter for more information. 7. Practice 2 or 3 times a day- 15 to 30 minutes of practice a day is a good amount of time if you can stick with it. You may nd it easier to practice for 10 minutes 2 or 3 times a day and build up your endurance (it won't more than a couple of weeks). It is perfectly normal to get winded and feel muscle fatigue in your lips and hands for the rst few months. Try not to "over do it" or "under do it". 8. Listen to harmonica playing- As your skill level continues to increase, try to copy or mimic the sounds and solos of your favorite harmonica players. Visit the "Recommended For Beginners" music CDs section of our HarmonicaStore.com for suggestions on players and CDs to listen to. 9. Maintenance and Repairs- At this point, you don't need to do much besides knocking out excess saliva, wiping your harmonica off, and placing it back in it's original case when nished, to keep it in good working order. The Repairs & Maintenance section in the Members Area of HarmonicaLessons.com has detailed information if you require it. 10. Ready for more quick tips?- For many more tips, take a look at the "One Liner Tips" in Chapter 8. Also, take a look at our "When In Doubt" section (in Chapter 5) for some general jamming tips. Simple Song Playing vs. Basic Jamming (1st Position vs. 2nd Position)- For simple song playing and melodies we play in what is called 1st Position (Straight Harp). By doing so, we will play songs on our key of "C" harmonica, in the key of "C", by mostly blowing in the middle part of the harmonica. Hole 4 Blow is a typical starting point and home base for 1st

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Getting Started

Position. You'll notice that the blow notes make a different sound than the draw notes do (as evidenced by the 1st position "Major Scale" in Chapter 4). For basic blues, rock, and country jamming, we play in what is called 2nd Position (Cross Harp). By doing so, we will play our key of "C" harmonica in the key of "G", by mostly drawing (inhaling) at the low end of the harmonica. Hole 3 Blow (or 2 Draw) is a good starting point and home base for 2nd Position blues jamming. More on 1st and 2nd Position can be found in Chapter 2.

Recommended Extras
What else do you need besides a good harmonica to get started? Not much really, but here are some "Recommended Extras" and accessories. And lucky you, some you may already have.

Mirror- A mirror can be your best friend. It allows you to see if what you think you're doing correctly, is actually what you are doing. This is the next best thing to the feedback a private teacher could give you by watching you play in person. Check in the mirror to monitor how relaxed you look, whether or not your head is in a normal position (not hanging down or tilted to one side), proper hand positions when holding, and whether you are moving the harmonica instead of moving your head when going between holes.

Use a mirror for instant visual feedback.

Recording Device (i.e. your computer or cassette recorder)- A recording device can also be a good friend. It allows you to actually hear if what you think you're doing correctly is actually correct (especially important for learning to play single notes and bending). This is the next best thing to the feedback a private teacher could give you by listening to you in person. When you record yourself, give it a day or two before you listen back. This way you can listen to it a bit more objectively (we tend to either be too hard on ourselves or too easy).

Many computers come with basic recording software. You can also nd and download freeware and shareware recording software on the Internet. Combine the computer software with a USB microphone, which are fairly inexpensive, and you will have a great set-up for simple recordings. CD Suggestions for Listening/Playing To- Visit the "Recommended For Beginners" music CDs section of our HarmonicaStore.com for suggestions on harmonica players' CDs to listen and jam to. You will see "Recommended For Beginners" following a CD description in our online store when the CD contains at least a few songs on it that can be played along with on a standard key of "C" diatonic. A few examples would be: "Bob Dylan - Greatest Hits Volume 2", "Blues Masters Vol. 4 - Harmonica Classics", "Willie Dixon - I Am the Blues", "Little Walter - His Best", and "Muddy Waters - Fathers and Sons". We also recommend certain CDs for beginners if the harmonica playing is good for "ear training", that is, simple enough that a new player can begin to copy some of the riffs, sounds, and techniques found on it. Be sure that the harmonica you are using is in the same key as what is being used on the particular CD track. The CDs: Song Keys section found in the Members Area at HarmonicaLessons.com, as well as Volume 3 of this Beginners Book Series will tell you which is the correct key of harmonica for many favorite albums. Additional Songs & Tabs- Although this book has 10 songs to get you going, you may have a thirst for more. Our website offers over 190 tabs (easy harmonica music notation) for songs and harmonica solos. If you desire complete piano music, or have a specic interest in a style of music or artist (i.e. Christmas, Blues, Fiddle tunes, Bob Dylan, Hymns & Gospel, Beatles, Little Walter, etc.) take an online trip to HarmonicaStore.com- Song & Tab Books section for third-party song and tab books. Patience- Take your time. The harmonica is deceptively difcult. Try not to spend your time worrying about how good you're becoming. As mentioned in this book's introduction, have fun with it! For example, if you had never picked up a tennis racket before, you couldn't expect to go out and win matches without some basic instruction, lots of practice, some passage of time for things to sink in. . . and lots more practice.

1
Getting Started

Good To Know
Here's some additional information that is "Good to Know." For instance, we may not be able to get together with you in person for a private harmonica lesson, but we can supply you with some tips to help you nd a teacher in your area.

How can I nd a Local Harmonica Instructor- Admittedly, harmonica can be a very tough instrument to learn without the help of an instructor to give you one-on-one feedback. Unfortunately, there aren't always qualied harmonica teachers available in every area of your country and throughout the world. Here's a few suggestions for trying to locate a teacher in your area: 1. Call the local music stores. Look in the yellow pages of your phone book for store listings. 2. Check for classes at the nearest community college(s). 3. When visiting local clubs to hear music, seek out any and all bands with a harmonica player and ask if he or she knows someone who teaches or if they might be willing to teach you. 4. Try a post at the HarmonicaLessons.com Discussion Forums. Occasionally, this question is asked and another member will know of a teacher in your area and respond. It's always worth a try. 5. Still can't nd a local harmonica teacher? Fear not, that's why we're here. Follow along in our book series, or visit the website, and you'll do just ne. What do "Position" and "Resolution" mean?- You'll be surprised how much you can learn about the world of harmonica and music by just reading through a related glossary of terms. The harmonica and music terms and denitions specic to this book are found at the end of Chapter 2. A more extensive listing of harmonica and music terms is found in "Vol. 4: Theory for Harmonica Players" in this Beginning Diatonic Harmonica Book Series, or in the Members Area of HarmonicaLessons.com. Use our HarmonicaStore.com for more detailed harmonica product info- If you're wondering what a Natural Minor tuned harmonica is used for, visit HarmonicaStore.com and read through its product description. Without even making a purchase, you can gain information about specic harmonicas and harmonica products by just reading through the product descriptions.

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Chapter 2 : General Overview


Chapter Includes: Diatonic vs. Chromatic Harmonica 1st & 2nd Position Positions Chart Terms & Denitions

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General Overview

Overview
Here's some important "big picture" information to read through before you get too far. Be sure to take a minute to read through the 1st and 2nd Position section. A basic understanding of these 2 playing positions will allow you to jam with friends almost immediately.

Diatonic vs. Chromatic Harmonica


Diatonic and Chromatic harmonicas are by far the most common and useful harmonica types in the world. We compare these two to help you conrm that you have selected the correct type of harmonica for the style of music and kind of sound that interests you. One is not better than the other, in fact, many people go on to learn and play both. Although this book is designed for a standard 10-hole diatonic, much of the technique found here will apply to both types of harmonicas.

The diatonic is mostly used for blues, folk, rock- There are two main types of harmonicas (sometimes referred to as "harps") the chromatic harmonica and diatonic harmonica. Although the chromatic is extremely versatile, the harmonica which is predominantly used in blues, rock, country, folk, etc. is called the diatonic harmonica (blues harp type). Bending gives you additional notes on the diatonic- The diatonic does not have easy access to all the 12 different notes, or pitches, in Western Culture music (like the chromatic harmonica), but many of the notes that are not naturally found can be acquired by "bending" certain draw (inhale) and blow (exhale) notes. Also, it is this "bending sound" of the diatonic which is what attracts most people to it. People who play the diatonic harmonica- Players associated with the diatonic would include Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, James Cotton, Sonny Boy Williamson, Mick Jagger (Rolling Stones), Little Walter, Paul Buttereld, Mickey Raphael (Willie Nelson Band), John Popper, Charlie Musselwhite, Huey Lewis, John Lennon, Jimmy Reed, Sonny Terry,

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Steven Tyler (Aerosmith), and many, many more. What is a chromatic harmonica?- The chromatic harmonica has a button on the right side which when NOT pressed in, allows you to play a standard major scale in the key of the chromatic (typically, the key of "C"). With the button depressed, gives you all the half-steps or notes in between. This creates a 12-note chromatic scale (all the notes possible in Western Culture musiclike the white and black keys of the piano) and allows you to play any type of scale (Major, Minor, Blues, etc.,) in all 12 keys of music. But, it's downside for some people is that it doesn't bend notes very well, so you don't get the same "bluesy" sound as found on the diatonic. The Chromatic Harmonica is not appropriate for the instruction in this book- As mentioned earlier, numerous techniques and theory are applicable for both diatonic and chromatic harmonicas, but this book is designed for diatonic. Reading music and song tab for the chromatic- The chromatic harmonica hole layout (sometimes referred to as "Solo" tuning) is similar to the diatonic hole layout (referred to as "Richter" tuning), but not the same, so song tablature is different. Many accomplished chromatic players are able to read standard music notation which eliminates the need for song tab. Reading standard music notation makes more sense and is more easily done on the chromatic harmonica than on the diatonic. The chromatic is mostly used for jazz, classical, and pop music- The chromatic harmonica is typically used in jazz, classical, pop, and music where the melodies require more than a 7-note scale (like the one on a standard diatonic). A classic example of where a chromatic would be required was on the theme song to "Midnight Cowboy". The original theme to "Sesame Street" was also played on a chromatic. People who play the chromatic harmonica- Stevie Wonder, Toots Thielemans, and Larry Adler are three of the best known players of this instrument. The 40's and 50's were the heyday of the harmonica bands (like the "Harmonicats" and "Harmonica Rascals") and were usually led by a chromatic harmonica player. Numerous players, primarily known for their diatonic playing, may also use the chromatic from time to time (i.e. Little Walter, Norton Buffalo, Charlie McCoy, James Cotton, and others). How to play chromatic harmonica- For chromatic harmonica instruction, tips, songs, scales, and more, visit the Chromatic Harmonica section within the Members Area at our website.

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1st & 2nd Position Overview


Although there are other positions (or keys) that may be played on standard diatonic harmonicas, 1st and 2nd Position are far and away the most common and useful positions. A basic understanding of these 2 playing positions will allow you to jam with friends almost immediately.

2
General Overview

1st Position (or Straight Harp):


1st Position or "Straight Harp"- These two terms mean precisely the same thing. We tend to use the more modern term "1st Position" here, but both are correct and interchangeable. Most beginners will start with simple songs played in the 1st Position. "C" Harmonica blows a "C" chord- You'll notice if you blow anywhere on a key of "C" Major harmonica you will get a C Major chord (C, E, and G notes). Other key diatonic harmonicas are laid out exactly the same, so if you blow into a key of "A" harmonica you will get an A chord (A, C#, and E notes). 1st Position puts you in the natural key of the harmonica- When you play mostly blow notes on your key of "C" harmonica you will be in the key of "C". If you have a diatonic harmonica in the key of "A" and did the same, your playing would then be in the key of "A". This style of playing is called 1st Position or "Straight Harp". Simple melodies and folk rock style - 1st Position is typically used for simple melodies like "Oh Susanna" or "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and widely used in a folk-rock context, a la Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen (and many other singer-songwriters). "1st Position" jamming, emphasize blow notes- If you take any song in a major key and use the same keyed major diatonic harmonica (i.e. key of "C" for both), you can instantly jam along with the song if you stay in the middle of the harmonica and primarily, but not exclusively, stick to the blow notes. (Bob Dylan songs, with or without harmonica, are a great place to try this out.) Resolution (meaning the sound comes to rest), to the key of the music, can be found on holes 4 and 7 Blow. Remember, chose the diatonic harmonica that is in the same key as the key of the song, or it just won't sound right. If you play only by yourself, the key of harmonica is not important.

2nd Position (or Cross Harp):


2nd Position or "Cross Harp"- These two terms mean precisely the same thing. We tend

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to use the more modern term "2nd Position" here, but both are correct and interchangeable. Most beginners will start with simple blues riffs played in the 2nd Position. Players who primarily use 2nd Position- include James Cotton, Sonny Boy Williamson (both I and II), Mick Jagger (Rolling Stones), Little Walter, Paul Buttereld, Mickey Raphael (Willie Nelson Band), John Popper, Charlie Musselwhite, Huey Lewis, Sonny Terry, Norton Buffalo, Steven Tyler (Aerosmith), Magic Dick (J. Geils Band), and many others. For blues, use 2nd Position- If you want to play to blues, rock, or country based music, your rst choice would not be the 1st Position (or "Straight Harp") style of playing. You will want to use the 2nd Position style of playing. 2nd Position emphasizes draw notes at the low end- If you want to jam to a song while playing 2nd Position, you must primarily, but not exclusively, play the draw (inhale) notes at the low end of the harmonica (holes 1 through 5 draw). Resolution (meaning the sound comes to rest), to the key of the music, can be found at hole 3 blow (and later on, also at holes 2 draw and 6 blow). The big advantage to 2nd Position is the bending- The advantage of the 2nd Position style of playing over 1st Position is that all these low draw notes can be bent down for effect and with practice will ultimately give you all the missing notes used in the blues and country scales. 2nd Position is in a different key- When you play in the 2nd Position, you are no longer in the key of the harmonica, but actually in a key which is a perfect 5th (seven half-steps) up from the key of the harmonica. You're playing your "C" harmonica in the key of "G"- If you play in 2nd Position on a key of "C" harmonica you will now be in the key of "G". This is the way most modern blues, rock, and country players will use the diatonic harmonica. Use the table in the next section to nd the 2nd Position key for the 12 different keys of diatonics. An easy shortcut to nd the 2nd Position key- If your thumb is the key of the harmonica (which is the same as the 1st Position key), count through the alphabet and stop at your "little nger" for the 2nd Position key. For example, your thumb is "C" and your little nger would be "G" (key of 2nd Position on the "C" harmonica). Try it with a key of "D" harmonica, counting from thumb to little nger you should get the key of "A" for 2nd Position. Please note, in music, "A" follows "G". There is no "H" note (C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C-D-E-F-G-A-B, etc.). Learn the 2nd Position "Almost Blues Scale"- See Chapter 5 for some tips on how to jam using 2nd Position.

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Chart of Harmonica Keys & Positions


Here is a basic chart for determining the 1st Position and 2nd Position key of any standard 10-hole major diatonic (as well the 3rd and 5th Position keys). A position on the harmonica (i.e. 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Position) refers to the emphasis of your note selections, especially starting and ending points, which in turn determines what key you are actually playing the harmonica in. For additional charts, information on positions, and harmonica theory, pick up Vol. 4: "Theory for Harmonica Players" in this Beginning Diatonic Harmonica Book Series or visit the Theory section within the Members Area at our website.

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General Overview

Key of Harmonicas & Positions


Key of Harmonica G Ab A Bb B C Db D Eb E F F#
Position starts on:
1st Position Key (Straight Harp) 2nd Position Key (Cross Harp) 3rd Position Key 5th Position Key

G Ab A Bb B C Db D Eb E F F# 4 Blow

D Eb E F F# G Ab A Bb B C Db 3 Blow
(or 2 Draw)

Am Bbm Bm Cm C#m Dm Ebm Em Fm F#m Gm Abm 4 Draw

Bm Cm C#m Dm D#m Em Fm F#m Gm G#m Am Bbm 2 Blow

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The harmonica, the position, the background music- For different positions to work properly, you would also need the background music (CD, guitar, piano, bass, etc.) to be in the same key as the position you are playing in. Chart use: 1st Position- If you would like to play a melody or play along with a song using the 1st Position, chose the diatonic harmonica that is in the same key as the key of the song. (See columns one and two of the chart.) Chart use: 2nd Position- If you would like to play to a blues, rock, or country song in the 2nd Position; using the chart, follow these steps: 1. Use the "2nd Position Key" gray column rst- Locate the key of the song you want to play to in the gray column called "2nd Position Key (Cross Harp)." 2. Use the "Key of Harmonica" column next- Then, nd the key of harmonica you will need to use from the bolded "Key of Harmonica" column to the left. 3. For example- If a blues song is played in the key of "F", locate the "2nd Position Key (Cross Harp)" column and go down to the fourth row where it indicates "F". Two columns to the left of it shows "Bb" (B at) in the "Key of Harmonica" column. You would now choose your "Bb" diatonic and play it in 2nd position for the blues song in the key of "F". Explanation of the 3rd position and the 5th position- These positions can be used by slightly more advanced diatonic players for songs in minor keys. Pick up Volume 4: "Theory for Harmonica Players" in this Beginning Diatonic Harmonica Book Series or visit the Theory section within the Members Area at our website, HarmonicaLessons.com.

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Terms & Denitions


Here are some common terms and concepts found in music and the world of harmonica playing that used throughout this book. A more extensive listing of harmonica and music terms is found in Vol. 4: "Theory for Harmonica Players" in this Beginning Diatonic Harmonica Book Series, or in the Members Area at our website.

2
General Overview

1st Position (Straight Harp)- When you play mostly blow notes (usually in the middle portion of the harmonica) on your key of "C" harmonica you will be in the key of "C". This style of playing is called Straight Harp or 1st Position. This is used often for simple melodies like "Oh Susanna" and widely used in a folk context, la Bob Dylan. See Chapter 2 for more information. 2nd Position (Cross Harp)- When you play predominately draw notes at the low end of the harmonica (holes 1 through 5 draw), you are no longer in the key of the harmonica, but actually in a key which is a perfect 5th (or seven half-steps) up from the key of the harmonica. If you play 2nd Position ("Cross Harp") on a key of "C" harmonica you will now be in the key of "G". This is the way most blues, rock, and country players will use the diatonic harmonica. See Chapter 2 for more information. Bending- A technique which allows you to change the actual pitch of a note. Standard diatonic harmonica bending technique will lower the note. Although bending is done primarily on the draw notes at the low end of the harmonica, there are four types of bending found on a diatonic harmonica. Bending of notes is not exclusive to the harmonica. This changing of pitch can be done on guitar, saxes, other string instruments, electronic keyboards, and more. Blow Note- A sound created by exhaling through the harmonica. Chord- Three or more notes played simultaneously. If you took a chord and played the notes one at a time, you would be playing an arpeggio. Chords are typically designated in music by using upper case Roman numerals for major chords (i.e. I, IV, and V, which are the rst, fourth, and fth chords in a key), and by using lower case Roman numerals for minor chords (i.e. ii, iii, and vi, which are the minor second, minor third, and minor sixth chords in a key). A chord of only two notes may be referred to as a partial chord. Chromatic Harmonica- The chromatic harmonica has a button on the side which when NOT pressed in, allows you to play a normal major scale, and with the button depressed, gives you all the half-steps or notes in between. It is typically used in jazz and classical music, but is

17

found in all styles of music. Bending doesn't work nearly as well on the chromatic as it does on the diatonic harmonica. See Chapter 2 for more information. Cross Harp (2nd Position) - See the denition for "2nd Position". Diatonic Harmonica- The diatonic harmonica does not normally have a complete selection of notes like the chromatic harmonica, but many of the notes that are not naturally found on the diatonic, can be acquired by "bending" particular draw (inhale) and blow (exhale) notes. Most professionals are predominantly diatonic players. This harmonica is typically used in blues, rock, country, and folk, but can be found in all styles of music. Sometimes referred to as a "blues harp", "harp", "short harp", "standard 10-hole" or just "diatonic". Draw Note- A sound created by inhaling through the harmonica. Harp (blues harp)- Slang term for a 10-hole diatonic harmonica. But, since a strummed stringed instrument already exists that is ofcially named the harp, we stick with the term harmonica in this book to avoid confusion for people just starting out. Improv- Short for improvisation. You literally make up a melody as you play. This is not as magical or esoteric as some musicians might like you to believe. Improv and "jamming" are based on putting together riffs and scales that you already know through previous practice and repetition. The real "improv" of it is that you can change the order and amount of repetition of your memorized patterns. Jam (jamming)- Many times jamming is used synonymously with "improv" (see above denition). Jamming can also refer to a group of two or more people playing together sometimes rehearsed, sometimes not. Key- A tonal center for a portion of music or a complete song. The key is the rst note (also referred to as the tonic) of the scale that is being used for the song melody or for improvising. The key can also be determined by the key signature of the sheet music. (Also see "resolution.") "Keyed"- When you take a particular song or CD track and determine the key it is played in, it is considered "keyed". This will allow the player to choose the correct key of diatonic harmonica or play the correct scale on a chromatic harmonica when playing along with a song. Major Scale- The major scale is the most common of diatonic scales (seven different notes). If you start on any "C" key on a piano and play only the white keys until you reach the next "C" key (an octave up), you will have played a "C" major scale. Other diatonic scales include: the harmonic minor scale, the natural minor scale, and the melodic minor scale.

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A major scale is differentiated from the other scales by the relationship of whole-steps and half-steps between it's scale degrees. A major scale can be sung as "do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do". Numerically, we sometimes look at the notes of the major scale as 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8. All scale related music theory is derived from the major scale. MIDI le- A computer document that contains the performance of a musical piece only in terms of the pitches of the notes played and the timing of these notes. The actual sounds to make the music will come from the computer's operating system. Additional software sound modules can be purchased separately if you desired better quality sounds. Any of the HarmonicaLessons.com MIDI les (or found elsewhere for that matter) can be played by your computer and you will not need any special equipment or software to do so. Minor- A type of scale, mode, or chord that has a dark, somber characteristic to it. The most important musical difference between a minor scale and a standard major scale is that the 3rd note of the minor scale is one half-step atter in relation to the 3rd note of the major scale. Pitch- The actual sound of a note. Sometimes expressed in vibrations per second as in "A"=440hz. You can change the pitch of some notes on the harmonica with the bending technique. Positions- A position on the harmonica (i.e. 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Position) refers to the emphasis of your note selection (and starting and ending points). This in turn determines what key you are actually playing the harmonica in. For instance, by emphasizing the lower draw holes, especially the hole 2 Draw, you would now be playing in the key of "G" on your key "C" harmonica. This is called 2nd Position. For different positions to work properly, you would also need the background music (guitar, piano, bass, etc.) to be in the same key as the position you are playing in. There are ultimately 12 different positions that can be played on a diatonic harmonica, but only the rst few are commonly used. Resolution- Whenever you return to the "key note", that is, the note which is the same as the key of the song, we call it resolving or resolution. This typically tends to happen at the end of a verse or chorus and almost always at the end of the song. Basically, resolution lets the listener know that you've nished. Riff- A slang term for a short musical phrase that is usually repeated or repeatable. In classical music, it is sometimes referred to as a "motif". Another slang term used for riff is "lick". Scale- A linear collection of notes that has a different letter name for each pitch (note). A "C" major scale would be "C", "D", "E", "F", "G", "A", "B", "C". All scales start and end on the same note. To ease communication, regardless of what key you are playing in, the rst note may be referred to as "1", the second note referred to as "2", etc. Please note that this particular

2
General Overview

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numbering system refers to the notes in a scale (which are applicable to any instrument) and should not be confused with the numbered holes on your harmonica. Single Notes- Playing only one note at a time is referred to as a "single note". Two or more notes played simultaneously is called a chord. See Chapter 3 for more information. Straight Harp (1st Position)- See the denition for "1st Position". Tabs (Tablature)- Tablature, or "tab", is a simplied way to notate music without having to formally read music. We use the "text" tab system (explained in Chapter 4) for notating songs and riffs. Guitar (and many other instruments), as well as different teaching methods, may choose to have their own system of tablature. Tongue Blocking (not covered in this book)- A slightly more advanced technique that is used to play single notes and create special effects. This is done by putting your mouth over 3 or 4 holes and covering all but one hole with the tip of your tongue. Typically, your tongue is on the left side and the single note is played out of the right side. Vertical Slot Method- (also referred to as "corner blocking"). A single note technique which is the advanced, admittedly more difcult, but preferred version of the "whistle method" (whistle method is also referred to as "lipping" or "pucker" method). Instead of involving your tongue to achieve single notes, as in Tongue Blocking, the Vertical Slot method creates the single note by dropping the jaw down and slightly back and then using the corners of the mouth to block the surrounding holes. This is in contrast to the whistle-type methods where you play a single note with tight, pursed lips. See Chapter 3 for more information.

A more extensive listing of harmonica and music terms is found in Vol. 4: "Theory for Harmonica Players" in this Beginning Diatonic Harmonica Book Series, or in the Members Area at HarmonicaLessons.com.

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Chapter 3: Basic Playing Techniques


Chapter Includes:
Single Notes Holding/Hand Effects Bending Breathing

3
Basic Playing Techniques

Basic Playing Techniques


This chapter contains the information and instruction you need to get started correctly with the 4 most basic and important techniques for playing harmonica. Perfection of these techniques is rarely possible the rst time around, but by taking your time with them initially, you can achieve a rm foundation which will continue to grow and improve as you continue to play.

Before getting "technical"- If you haven't already done so, play through and learn a song or two without any concern for techniques. A "chord-y" sound instead of Single Notes on songs is ne for the rst few weeks. Single Notes and Holding/Hand Effects- The two most common techniques for playing virtually any type of harmonica (in any musical style) are Single Notes and Holding/Hand Effects. Give these two some time before adding other techniques. Bending and Breathing- Be sure that you are fairly comfortable with the more basic techniques of Single Notes and Holding/Hand Effects before spending a lot of time on bending and breathing. A few weeks to a month of fairly accurate single noting is a good indicator of when to begin work on these two techniques. Also, a well practiced Vertical Slot single note technique will make the bending and breathing techniques much, much easier (not necessarily easy, but easier) when you move on to them. Why the 4 Basic Techniques are so important- Tone and timing are what make good players sound good. Good tone comes primarily from proper breathing technique, but without good single note technique, it is much more difcult to breathe correctly. In addition, holding the harmonica correctly facilitates better single note technique. Successful bending is more easily accomplished with correct breathing accompanied with good single note technique.

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Staying Relaxed (the missing 5th Basic Technique)- This applies to every technique at every level. Try to stay as relaxed as you can at all times and especially when working to improve your techniques. Bending and breathing are very difcult to do correctly with excess tension. Concentrate on relaxing your mouth, your lips (without losing the single notes), your eyes, your forehead, your whole face in general, your neck, your shoulders; basically, everything. Watch yourself in the mirror to be sure. Free technique sound le examples- Examples of these techniques can be heard at HarmonicaLessons.com. See Chapter 9 for details on how to gain access to the free audio/ video les.

Single Notes
Playing only one note at a time is referred to as a "single note" (like hitting one key of a piano). Two or more notes played simultaneously is called a chord. The two most common and useful ways to achieve a single note are by either the "Vertical Slot" method (advanced version of pucker, lipping, and whistle methods) or Tongue Blocking (Tongue Blocking is covered in Vol.2 of this series, or on our website). What a Single Note Should Sound Like (using your ngers)- To get the sound of a clean single note in your head, pick a hole to play a clean single note on, let's say 4 Blow. Place your index ngers tightly over holes 3 and 5 and cram the whole thing into your mouth. If your ngers are still tightly covering holes 3 and 5 then you should be hearing a nice clean single note out of hole 4. Do this over and over and over again until you've memorized the sound. If the ngers just aren't working for you, try putting tape over the holes surrounding hole 4. Whenever in doubt, come back to this drill. "Vertical Slot" method of single notes- The Vertical Slot method is our recommended single note technique, especially good for beginners who would also like to learn to bend notes. It is the advanced, admittedly more difcult, but preferred version of the "whistle", "lipping", "lip purse", or "pucker" methods. Instead of involving your tongue to achieve single notes, as in other single-noting methods, the Vertical Slot method creates the single note by dropping the jaw down and slightly back and then using the corners of the mouth to block the surrounding holes. This is in contrast to the simpler "whistle", "pucker", or "lipping" method where you play a single note with tight, pursed lips. Vertical Slot method is also known as corner blocking. Your lips should literally create a vertical slot- You have probably noticed that most mouths come in a fairly horizontal arrangement. This "natural" position of the lips is not good for playing single notes. What we want to do is recongure our lips so that they create more of a vertical slot. Try this in front of a mirror.

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Basic Playing Techniques

Our recommended method of obtaining single notes, the Vertical Slot. The tongue is not involved.

Try a "sh face" in front of a mirror- Have you ever made a "sh face" where you suck in your cheeks? This "sh face" is the idea we want to use to bring in the corners of our lips to create a small vertical slot in which to play a clean single note. If it helps, hold the harmonica with one hand and use the other hand to squeeze in the corners of your lips to maintain the single note and "vertical slot". Work with this in front of the mirror (rst without the harmonica) for a few minutes. Play with this for a week or so until your mouth begins to understand what it needs to do. Block the surrounding holes with the corners of your mouth and not with tight lipsThe is a key point and is what separates the vertical slot method from the other lip-based single note techniques. You DO NOT use your lips to create a small hole for the single note. Instead, you block out surrounding holes with the corners of your mouth. Do the best you can to get the harmonica further into your mouth, but not at the expense of playing single notes- If this is your rst experience with obtaining single notes, don't fret if you can't match what your hear and see in the instruction. If you need to use your lips a bit more than shown to obtain single notes, then that is ne. Remember, the Vertical Slot method is the advanced version of the other lip-based single note techniques. It is reasonable that you may have to work up to the full-blown Vertical Slot technique over time. Additional Info and Photos for Single Notes- More details on this technique, plus numerous other playing and jamming techniques are available in Vol. 2: "Playing & Jamming Techniques" of this Beginning Diatonic Harmonica Book Series or found in the Techniques section within the Members Area at our website.

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Holding/Hand Effects
Properly holding the harmonica is an important part of getting a full sound and creating hand effects. If you are new and still getting acquainted with the harmonica, you may want to hold the harmonica by it's ends (see photo in Chapter 1: Simple Technique Tips) a while longer before concerning yourself with hand effects.

Overview of Holding/Hand Tremolo- Your goal in properly holding the harmonica, is to hold it in such a way, that you can create the largest and most airtight cup possible, based on the size of your hands, and then trap the sound within them while leaving plenty of room to get the harmonica into your mouth. The larger and more airtight you can make this cup surrounding the back of the harmonica, the better the hand effects will be. Hold the harmonica in your left hand- To hold the harmonica properly for hand effects, it works best to hold it in your left hand (regardless of being left-handed or right-handed). This is because the biggest part of the cup you form around the harmonica will be around the low notes. As you advance, you will play more and more at the low end in 2nd Position for blues-

Correct left hand position without harmonica.

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styled playing, and the best hand effect sound comes from the biggest part of the cup (this is assuming that you are holding the harmonica with the numbers facing up, with the low notes to the left, like a piano). Harmonica sits on the "web like" ap of skin- Hold the harmonica with your left thumb and forenger as far back on the harmonica as possible, preferably against the slightly upturned ridges of the bottom and top cover plates. The left end of the harmonica should rest on top of the ap of "web like" skin between your thumb and forenger instead of being inserted between your thumb and forenger. This will seem awkward at rst, but it gets easier and more comfortable after a week or so of practice. You will see how quickly your thumb and forenger gain strength and endurance. The right hand is at with the ngers together- The left hand is basically done. The right hand should be at with the ngers together and the thumb out. Avoid wrapping the ngers of the right hand around your left hand. This creates a tendency to move the ngers of the right hand instead of opening the right hand itself. If you do not open the right hand, you will not achieve a change of sound. Check in the mirror to see that you have created a large, airtight cup with your hands.

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Basic Playing Techniques

Harmonica sits on the "web like" ap of skin and notice the at right hand.

The "tremolo" effect is a change of volume- We specically hold the harmonica in a way so that we can change the sound of a note or chord by opening and closing our hands. The technique is commonly referred to as "Hand Tremolo". Open with the right hand- To create your hand effects, you will open the right hand by bending it back while keeping the heels of both palms together and the bottom hand at. Watch yourself in the mirror so that you can see the back view where your hand opens.

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Keep your hands together and look for any gaps, especially at the back of the harmonica, to insure it is reasonably airtight and effective. Make it a point to open your right hand and then have it return to the same spot.

Back View: Hands in half-open position.

Tremolo is used on long held notes- A tremolo effect creates a wavering sound that is usually applied to long held notes or long held chords (which typically occur at the ends of phrases). The perceived change that occurs is not a change of pitch (this is usually referred to as "vibrato") but instead, it is a change of volume. Additional Info and Photos for Holding/Hand Effects- More details on this technique, plus numerous other playing and jamming techniques are available in Vol. 2: "Playing & Jamming Techniques" of this Beginning Diatonic Harmonica Book Series or found in the Techniques section within the Members Area at our website.

Bending
Bending is a technique used on the harmonica which allows you to change the actual pitch of a note (typically by lowering it). The bending of notes is not exclusive to the harmonica. This changing of pitch is also possible on guitar, saxes, other string instruments, electronic keyboards, and more. With bending, you can create a wailing, crying type sound. The bending technique also allows us to play some of the notes that appear to be missing on the diatonic harmonica. Beginner's Shortcut: Tilting the harmonica to bend- A quick, easy way to begin bending notes is to hold the harmonica by the ends and tilt the back of the harmonica up towards your

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nose (you should have it far enough into your mouth, with single notes, that it won't pop out). Listen for the note to go lower in pitch. This trick of physically tilting the harmonica up will create the same change of angle that we will strive to do internally. Make sure your single notes are strong and clear before attempting to bend.

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Basic Playing Techniques

Harmonica tilted up to bend draw note.

Bending can be one of the more difcult techniques- Bending, along with the Breathing technique tends to be the most difcult techniques to master on the harmonica. If you nd it difcult and slow-to-come, welcome to the club. Be patienttake your time, it will come. The most common and useful bends are found on the 2, 3, and 4 Draw holes- Draw bends can be done on holes 1-6 draw on a standard diatonic. But, the most common and most useful bends for blues, rock, and country are the bends on 2 Draw, 3 Draw, and 4 Draw. Although hole 5 draw technically can be bent, you should avoid doing so. Bending this note will not give you any new notes like the other holes do, but instead, has a tendency to ruin the 5 draw reed prematurely. Different holes bend different amounts- The holes 1, 4, and 6 Draw will each bend a halfstep down in pitch. Hole 2 Draw will bend down a complete whole step (two half-steps) and hole 3 Draw will actually bend down a step and a half (three half-steps). On a standard key of "C" diatonic, hole 1 Draw will bend from the note "D" down to "Db" (which is the same as "C#"). Hole 2 Draw will bend from the note "G" down a complete whole step to "F". Hole 3 Draw will bend from the note "B" down 3 half-steps to "Ab" ("Ab" is the same as "G#"). Hole 4 Draw (the same pitch as hole 1 Draw, but up a complete octave) will bend from the note "D" down to "Db" (which is the same as "C#"). And hole 6 Draw will bend from the note "A" down to "Ab" (or "G#").

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Bending consists of only two basic components: 1. Good Breathing Technique- That is, not sucking and blowing from the front of your mouth (lips). The more you suck the air in, instead of pulling the air through the harmonica and through your mouth, the harder it will be to bend a note. 2. Shifting (changing the angle of the airow)- "Shifting" means that you are changing the angle of the airow to cause a note to bend. Normally, for clean single notes, the ow of air is parallel to the cover plates and to the reed (the reed is a thin piece of brass inside the harmonica which creates sound when air passes over and causes it to vibrate). When you change the angle of airow, you put additional pressure on the reed which causes it to vibrate more slowly, thus lowering in pitch. So in essence, you are pulling the air from the harmonica at an angle to the upper pallet inside your mouth (see graphic below).

Airow Direction for Bent and Non-Bent Notes

Bending Tips
"Shifting" is a tough one to learn- It is extremely difcult to teach/learn this technique. Many books and instructors try to create a shortcut to bending by getting the student to say certain syllable and vowel combinations, ("wee-ou-wee" in the following tips) or have them move their tongue or jaw up or down, or back or forward. None of these tricks work for everyone every time. The bottom line is that you must change the angle of the airow for the note to change pitch. Do whatever it takes inside your mouth to make that happen. Don't think too much about this, it probably won't help. Picture the concept and let your body gure it out. Stay with the hole you have success with- Try to bend on hole 4 Draw. If it seems to be working, stay on it and repeat it over and over again to establish the muscle memory. If it doesn't seem to work, try the same thing on hole 1 Draw. If this one seems to be bending, stay on it and repeat it over and over again to establish the muscle memory. If you don't have any luck with either of those, try to bend hole 2 or 3 Draw.

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Normal 4 draw/bent 4 draw/normal 4 draw (i.e. "wee-ou-wee")- A trick that helps some players get a feel for bending is to use different vowel and consonant combinations in an attempt to get your tongue and mouth in the correct positions. Try a normal 4 draw/bent 4 draw/normal 4 draw by saying "wee-ou-wee" or "wah-ou-wah" when you inhale. The "ou" part would be the bent note. Hear the sounds in your head while you try to make the sounds with your mouth. Combine the "wee-ou-wee" with the tilting trick- Still no luck, try simultaneously using the "wee-ou-wee" with the tilting trick at the top of the Bending section. The "ou" sound should coincide with the tilted up position. Do this slowly enough so that you can focus on both tips at the same time. Get the sounds in your head rst- Your odds of success with bending go up about 1000% if you are able to hear the "un-bent and bent" sounds in your head. Memorize the sound le examples (see next bullet point) so that you can sing, hum, or whistle the un-bent and bent notes. "Hear" the bending sounds in your head while you try to match the same sounds with the harmonica. Free audio bending examples- Bending examples can be heard at HarmonicaLessons.com. See Chapter 9 for details on how to gain access to the free audio/video les. Listen to the sounds repeatedly (see bullet point above). Use a chromatic tuner- A great way to check to see if you are actually bending your chosen draw note to the pitch it should be bent to (see above bullet point "Different holes bend different amounts"), is to use an automatic Chromatic Tuner which will follow your pitch change progress. The tuner will let you know if you are accurately and completely achieving the bend. Chromatic tuners can be purchased at a local music store or by visiting the HarmonicaStore.com: Misc. Harmonica Products: Tuners section.

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Basic Playing Techniques

Use a chromatic tuning device to see how the note is actually bending and by how much.

Top 2 reasons beginners can't get bending- Reason No. 1 is that they are still struggling with single notes and are trying to think about two things at once (Solution: work on your

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single notes a few more weeks and then come back to bending). Reason No. 2 is that they cannot accurately hear in their head what bending should sound like. This confusion leads many to believe they are bending notes when in fact they are just changing the tone of the note slightly by some other means. Solution: listen repeatedly to the sound lessee bullet point "Free audio bending examples". In many cases, Reason No. 1 is the cause of Reason No. 2. Additional Info and Photos for Bending- More details on this technique, plus numerous other playing and jamming techniques are available in Vol. 2: "Playing & Jamming Techniques" of this Beginning Diatonic Harmonica Book Series or found in the Techniques section within the Members Area at our website.

Breathing
Proper breathing technique corrects the problems of a 'thin' weak sound and also xes trouble draw notes like holes 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, that don't seem to play well, play in tune, or at all (nope, it's not a bad harmonica). Be sure you are fairly comfortable with the more basic techniques of Single Notes and Holding/Hand Effects before spending too much time on your breathing. Put the harmonica as far into your mouth while maintaining single notes as you can- The easiest way to breath correctly with the harmonica is to play your Vertical Slot single notes with the harmonica as far into your mouth as possible. The further you put the harmonica into your mouth without losing the single note (see Single Note section in this chapter), the better. This will allow you to bypass the "sucking mechanism", the front of your mouth and lips, and force you to breath correctly from the bottom of your lungs. Try making a "ha" sound for every exhale (blow note) and every inhale (draw note) that you play.

Airow should always be parallel to the harmonica, reed plate, and reed itself unless trying to bend.

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Correct breathing for the harmonica means N O T sucking and N O T blowing into the harmonica- Sucking and blowing occurs with your lips and at the front of the mouth. This is the most instinctive method of getting air through the harmonica, but it is not correct. "Survival breathing" (for beginners)- It should be noted that the correct breathing on harmonica is not to be confused with what we might refer to as "survival breathing." All beginning harmonica players get winded and tired when they play for more than just a few minutes. Time, and conditioning through repetition will solve this problem. Remember to stay relaxed and try to breathe with, through, and around the harmonica. Don't force it. Endurance will develop naturally the more you play the harmonica. Why correct Single Note technique is important to your breathing- The act of dropping your jaw and expanding your oral cavity helps create better tone and volume. At the same time, creating a Vertical Slot for single notes, eliminates the ability to suck and blow with your lips (the major cause of thin tone and slightly out-of-tune notes) by allowing the harmonica to go further into your mouth and bypassing the "sucking mechanism", your lips. Both aspects, dropping your jaw, and putting the harmonica further into your mouth help proper breathing to occur naturally. Practice your breathing technique while standing- Whenever possible, be in a standing position if you are practicing or playing. Especially when you are working on your breathing technique, stand erect with your head up, back straight, and body relaxed so that you have a ghting chance of getting the airow to originate from deep in your lungs and not from your mouth. Correct breathing is done from the diaphragm- Although we breathe correctly and relaxed when we are sleeping, most of us don't do it much in our waking hours. If you have ever heard that when taking a deep breathe you need to ll up your chest, then you may have the wrong idea of what deep breathing is really about. The truly deep breathing is done from the stomach area/bottom of your lungs (diaphragm). Filling your upper chest with air is referred to as "shallow breathing". Try a "cough" to feel the diaphragmatic movement- To simulate the experience of the force of air originating from your diaphragm, try a few quick loud coughs from your throat. Now put a hand on your stomach and try it again. You should be able to feel your stomach move a split second before you hear the cough sound. Now try to get the same stomach movement without adding the cough. This is how correct breathing is initiated on all blow notes. Now with the harmonica between your teeth- Keep one hand on your stomach to monitor it's movement, and place the harmonica deep in your mouth between your teeth. Grip the harmonica with your teeth and take your hand away. With the harmonica this far into your

3
Basic Playing Techniques

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mouth you will be playing a big chord (3-5 notesthe bigger the better). Now, relax, breathe naturally, and try to initiate the air movement from your diaphragm (stomach area). "Follow through" with the airow- To get better tone, increased volume, and more accurate intonation when you play, focus your airow through the hole of the harmonica and not just into it. Think of the air going to the back of the hole, and out 3 inches beyond the harmonica and running parallel to the reed itself (airow straight in and airow straight out). This concept is exactly the same as "follow through," as found in virtually all sports and in martial arts.

Put the harmonica all the way into your mouth, clamp down with your teeth, and let go with your hands. This is breathing without sucking! Try to suck with your lipsyoull nd its not possible.

Angled airow is why 2 and 3 Draw (and 7, 8, and 9 Draw) may not sound goodAngled airow is why so many beginners cannot get a good sound out of 2 and 3 Draw. If there is any angle to your airow, then you will be unintentionally bending every note you play and some of the high draw or blow notes like holes 7, 8, and 9 (along with holes 2 and 3 draw), may not come out at all. This leads many beginners to the conclusion that they have a bad harmonica. The airow should be parallel to the reeds or the hole itself. (See the "Airow Direction" diagram in the preceding Bending section.) Additional Info and Photos for Breathing- More details on this technique, plus numerous other playing and jamming techniques are available in Vol. 2: "Playing & Jamming Techniques" of this Beginning Diatonic Harmonica Book Series or found in the Techniques section within the Members Area at our website.

32

Additional details on the 4 Basic Techniques, plus other playing and jamming techniques like Tonguing (articulation), Using Chords, Warbles, Slides, Tongue Blocking, Throat Vibrato, Blow Bends, and others are available in Vol. 2: "Playing & Jamming Techniques" of this Beginning Diatonic Harmonica Book Series or found in the Techniques section within the Members Area at our website.

3
Basic Playing Techniques

33

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34

Chapter 4 : Songs
Chapter Includes: Major Scale Mary Had a Little Lamb Row, Row, Row Your Boat Brahms Lullaby Jingle Bells Frere Jacques Oh Susanna Alouette Joy to the World Home on the Range Amazing Grace

4
Songs

Songs
Heres some fun, simple songs that anyone can play on diatonic harmonicayou don't need perfect single notes or other techniques to get started. If you desire additional songs or songs at a higher playing level, pick up "Vol. 5: Songs & Riffs" of this Beginning Diatonic Harmonica Book Series or visit the Tabs section within the Members Area at our website.

"Tabs" (or Tablature) dened- Tabs are a simplied way to notate harmonica solos, harmonica parts, melodies and songs, without having to formally read music. Directly below is an example of the HarmonicaLessons.com Text Tab system.

4B = hole 4 Blow

5D = hole 5 Draw

The 10-hole diatonic Text Tab system

Start with the "Major Scale" or "Mary Had a Little Lamb"- Pick one of the rst few beginning level songs (or better yet, the "Major Scale") and slowly read and play through it 3-5 times to get a feel for the melody. Were not striving for perfection or concentrating on techniques yet, we just want the melody to be recognizable. Commit it to memory- Once youve played a song enough and made it recognizable, look away from the song and then try to do it purely from memory. When you have committed it to memory, slow down and focus on your basic techniques. Play it correctly as many times as you can before moving on. Playing problems for songs with high notes- If you have problems with the high blow and draw notes found on holes 7-10 (or problems with holes 1, 2, and 3 draw), review the

35

Breathing section in Chapter 3 for info on how to correct the problem. Generally speaking, songs with a lot of high notes will sound better on lower keyed diatonic harmonicas like the keys of "G" and "A". Timing- The timing for the song tabs is not included, but is important. Focus rst on the songs that you already know well. If you dont know a song melody well, the notes may be in the correct order, but without including the proper timing, the song may be difcult for your listeners to recognize. Complete Sheet Music- If you would like complete sheet music for piano (or guitar) with chords and timing included, visit a local music store or HarmonicaStore.com for song, tab, and "fake" books that include numerous artists and styles of music. Free audio song examples- Many of these songs can be heard at HarmonicaLessons.com. See Chapter 9 for details on how to gain access to the free audio/video les. Play along with the sound le or listen to the timing.

36

"Major Scale"
Diatonic harmonica, played in 1st Position

Ascending:

4B

4D

5B

5D

6B

6D

7D

7B

4
Songs

Descending:

7B

7D

6D

6B

5D

5B

4D

4B

Text Tab System: 4B = hole 4 Blow 5D = hole 5 Draw

"The Major Scale"- Before you play your rst song melody, spend some time on the Major Scale. The best place to practice clean single notes is on the Major Scale (your basic "do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do"). Be sure to move the harmonica and not your head when you move from hole to hole (watch yourself in a mirror to check). If youre still struggling with the single notes, re-read the single note section in Chapter 3. For most people, it makes sense to take a step back and practice only on hole 4 blow and draw for consistency of single notes before doing the complete scale. The above "Major Scale" will be in the key of "C" on a key of "C" diatonic, in the key of "G" on a key of "G" diatonic, in the key of "A" on a key of "A" diatonic, in the key of "Bb" on a key of "Bb" diatonic, etc. "Ascending" in musical terms refers to an upward movement, and of course, "descending" refers to a downward movement.

37

"Mary Had a Little Lamb" - [Beginning level]


Diatonic harmonica, played in 1st Position

5B
Ma

4D
ry

4B
had

4D
a

5B
lit

5B
tle

lamb

5B

4D
lit -

4D
tle

4D
lamb

5B
lit -

6B
tle

6B
lamb

5B
Ma

4D
ry

4B
had

4D
a

5B
lit

5B
tle

lamb

5B

Fleece

4D

4D
was

white

5B

4D
as

snow.

4B

Text Tab System: 4B = hole 4 Blow 5D = hole 5 Draw

"Mary Had a Little Lamb"- If you are able to achieve single notes on the Major Scale 50% to 80% of the time, you can start playing simple melodies. This song only utilizes three different holes (holes 4-6), and thus makes it a perfect rst song.

38

"Row, Row, Row Your Boat" - [Beginning level]


Diatonic harmonica, played in 1st Position

4B
Row

4B
row

4B
row

4D
your

boat

5B 6B

4
Songs

5B 7B
Mer

gent

4D
ly

down

5B

5D
the

stream.

7B
ri

7B
ly

mer

6B 4B 4D
a

6B
ri

6B
ly

5B
Mer

5B
ri

5B
ly

mer

4B
ri

4B
ly

6B
Life

5D
is

5B
but

dream.

4B

Text Tab System: 4B = hole 4 Blow 5D = hole 5 Draw

"Row, Row, Row Your Boat"- This is a fun song that can be played in rounds. If you have a friend that also has a diatonic harmonica in the key of "C", have them play from the beginning of the song and when they start to play the "Merrily, Merrily" section (starting at hole 7B), you can begin the song at 4B.

39

"Brahms Lullaby" - [Beginning level]


Diatonic harmonica, played in 1st Position

5B 5B 4D 4D 4B 5B 4B 5B

5B 6B 5B 5D 4B 4B 4B 4B

6B 7B 5D 7D 7B 5D 7B 5D

5B 7D 4D 6D 6D 6B 6D 5B

5B 6D 4D 6B 5D 6D 5D 4D

6B 6D 5B 7D 6B 6B 6B 4B

6B 5D 7B

Text Tab System: 4B = hole 4 Blow 5D = hole 5 Draw

"Brahms Lullaby"- Who says you cant play classical melodies on harmonica? If you have problems with the jump from hole 5D to hole 7D in the 2nd section or with the jump from hole 4B to hole 7B in the 3rd section, isolate the move and practice it a number of times before trying the song again.

40

"Jingle Bells" - [Beginning level]


Diatonic harmonica, played in 1st Position

5B
Jin

5B
gle

5B 4B
all

bells

5B
jin

5B
gle way.

bells

5B

4
Songs

5B
Jin

6B
gle

4D
the

5B

5D
Oh

what

5D
a

5D
fun

5D
it horse

5D
is o

5B
to -

5B
ride sleigh_______.

5B
On

5B 5B
gle

5B
one

4D

4D 5B
gle way.

5B
pen

4D

6B

5B
Jin

5B
all

bells

5B
jin

bells

5B

5B
Jin

6B
gle

4B 5D
fun one

4D
the

5B 5D
is

5D
Oh

what

5D
a

5D
it horse

5B
to -

ride

5B

5B
On

5B

6B

6B

5D
o

4D
pen

sleigh.

4B

Text Tab System: 4B = hole 4 Blow 5D = hole 5 Draw

"Jingle Bells"- A fun, easy holiday favorite. If you have problems determining whether you are starting on the hole 5, place the tips of your index ngers over holes 4 and 6 and then hold a long blow note. Listen carefully to the sound, and when you think you can remember it, remove your ngers and try to nd the same note while playing your Vertical Slot single notes.

41

"Frere Jacques (Are You Sleeping?)" - [Beginning level]


Diatonic harmonica, played in 1st Position

4B
Are

4D
you

sleep

5B

4B 5B
Bro

ing?

4B
Are

4D
you

sleep

5B

4B

ing?

5B
Bro -

5D
ther

6B
John

5D
ther

6B
John.

Morn -

6B 6B 4B

6D
ing

6B 6B 4B

bells

5D
are

5B
ring

4B
ing

Morn -

6D
ing

bells

5D
are

5B
ring

4B
ing

Ding

3B

ding

dong

4B

ding

ding

3B

dong.

4B

Text Tab System: 4B = hole 4 Blow 5D = hole 5 Draw

"Frere Jacques"- When you play the last line of this song and move back and forth between holes 4B and 3B, use the same breath without breaking between the notes. This will make a smooth transition between the two blow notes. In music, a smooth connection between notes is referred to as "legato".

42

"Oh Susanna" - [Beginning level]


Diatonic harmonica, played in 1st Position

4B
Oh

4D
I've

come

5B

6B

from

6B
Al

6D
a

6B
ba

5B
ma

with

4B

4
Songs

4D
my

ban

5B

5B
jo

4D
on

4B
my

knee.

4D

4B
And

4D
I'm

goin'

5B 5B
love

6B
to

6B

Louis

6D
i

6B

an________ -

5B

4B
a

4D
my

true

5B 5D
Su

4D
for

4D
to

4B

see.

5D
Oh

6D
san

6D
na

6D
Now

don't

6B

6B
you

5B
cry

4B
for

4D
me.

4B
Oh

4D
I've

come

5B

6B

from

6B
Al

6D
a

6B
ba

5B
ma

4B
with

4D
my

5B
ban

5B
jo

4D
on

4D
my

knee.

4B

Text Tab System: 4B = hole 4 Blow 5D = hole 5 Draw

"Oh Susanna"- A classic campre song that most people know. Again, take your time and go as slow as needed to play clean single notes. You can make the long held single notes more interesting with hand tremolo effects (explained in Chapter 3).

43

"Alouette" - [Beginning level]


Diatonic harmonica, played in 1st Position

4B 4D 4B 4D 4B 6B 6B 6B 6B

4D 5B 4D 5B 4B 6D 6B 6B 5D

5B 4B 5B 4B 4B 6B 6B 6B 5B

5B 3B 5B 5B 5D 3B 3B

4D 4D 6B 5B 3B 3B

4B 4B 6B 4D 3B 3B 6B 4B

4D ... (back to top)

Text Tab System: 4B = hole 4 Blow 5D = hole 5 Draw

"Alouette"- If you have problems with the jump from hole 6B to hole 3B in the 3rd section, isolate the move and practice it a number of times before trying the song again.

44

"Joy to the World" - [Beginning level]


Diatonic harmonica, played in 1st Position

7B
Joy Let

7D
to earth

6D
the re

world, ceive

6B

5D
the

5B

Lord

4D
is

come!

4B

4
Songs

6B 7B
Let

6D 7B

6D 7D 7D 5B
en

7D

7D
her

King.

7B

ev_________

6D 6D 5B
and -

'ry_________

6B 6B

heart_______________ room_______________

6B 6B

5D 5D

5B 5B

7B
pre

pare________

7B 5B

him________

5B
And

heav

5B
na and

5D
ture na

6B
ture

sing.

5D 5B
and

And________

5B

4D
hea

4D
ven

4D 6D
and

4D 6B

5B 5D

5D

sing.

And________

4D 5B
na

hea -

4B 4D
ture

7B
ven sing.

heaven_____________

5B

5D

4B

Text Tab System: 4B = hole 4 Blow 5D = hole 5 Draw

"Joy to the World"- A very recognizable holiday melody. Take your time and go as slowly as needed to play clean single notes. Once you have the song memorized, try to add some hand tremolo on the longer held notes at the end of phrases. If you look closely, you will notice that the rst eight notes of the song are merely the descending Major Scale (played from high to low). This is a great example of how important timing is to songs is to create a melody.

45

"Home on the Range" - [Beg.-Int. level]


Diatonic harmonica, played in 1st Position

6B 7B 7B 6B 7B 9D 7B 9B 6B 7D 6B 7B 9D 7B

6B 7D 7B 6B 7D 9D 8D 9D 6B 7B 6B 7D 9D 8D

7B 6D 7B 7B 6D 8B 7B 8B 7B 8D 7B 6D 8B 7B

8D 9D 7D 8D 9D 8D 8D 7B 8D 9D 8D

8B 9D 7B 8B 9D 7B 8B 7B 8B 9D 7B

9D 8D 9D 8D

8B

9D

9B

7B

9D 8D

Text Tab System: 4B = hole 4 Blow 5D = hole 5 Draw

"Home on the Range"- This song is more difcult for most folks than the previous songs because of the high notes in the melody. If you have problems with the high blow and draw notes found on holes 7-10 (or problems with holes 1, 2, and 3 Draw), review the Breathing section in Chapter 3 for info on how to correct the problem. Generally speaking, songs with a lot of high notes will sound better on lower keyed diatonic harmonicas like the keys of "G" and "A".

46

"Amazing Grace" - [Beg-Int. level]


Diatonic harmonica, played in 1st Position

6B
A That

7B
maz saved

8B 8B 8B
now

ing________ a_________

7B 8D 9B
am

grace! wretch

8B

How

8D 8D
like

sweet

7B

6D
the

sound

6B

4
Songs

6B 8B 6B 6B

7B 9B

8B

9B
me.

I_________

once

was_______

8B

7B
lost

But________

6D 7B

7B

6D 8D

found.

6B
now

8B

8B

8D
I

7B
see.

Was

blind,

but________

Text Tab System: 4B = hole 4 Blow 5D = hole 5 Draw

"Amazing Grace"- Another classic melody, but more difcult than the many of previous songs because of the high notes you need to play. If you have problems with the high blow and draw notes found on holes 7-10 (or problems with holes 1, 2, and 3 Draw), review the Breathing section in Chapter 3 for info on how to correct the problem. Generally speaking, songs with a lot of high notes will sound better on lower keyed diatonic harmonicas like the keys of "G" and "A".

47

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48

Chapter 5: Jamming
Chapter Includes:
Jamming Overview The "Almost" Blues Scale ABS Riffs "When In Doubt" (Improv Tips)

5
Jamming

Jamming
What is "Jamming?" Jamming is basically the same as improv, which is short for improvisation. (We use these terms interchangeably throughout our books and website.) Instead of playing pre-written music to a song, you are making it up as you go. Jamming is not only a lot of fun, but it is much easier to do than many people would imagine. Free sound le examples for the riffs in this chapter are available on our website. See Chapter 9 for details on how to gain access.

Jamming Overview
It's easier than it looks- Improv and jamming are based on using riffs (a short melodic phrase) and scales that you already know well (they've been ingrained by countless repetitions which creates muscle memory). The real "improv" of it is that you can change the order and amount of repetition of your memorized patterns and combine them in new and different ways. The more you do this, the better you get, and the more fun it becomes. Folk, rock, country, reggae, hip-hop, etc.- Although the main improv tab in this chapter is called the "Almost Blues Scale," the collection of notes will work with many of the types of popular music you would like to jam to. The average person that picks up harmonica does so because of an interest in blues and blues harmonica, but the information in this chapter will allow you to jam to all sorts of music like folk, rock, country, reggae, dance, hip-hop, heavy metal, grunge, and so forth. But, because blues has a simple repetitive structure, (in most cases it uses the "12-Bar Blues" chord progression), it is a great place to learn to jam regardless of which musical styles you ultimately want to play. Playing in the 2nd Position- The "Almost Blues Scale" is played in 2nd Position. For more information on 2nd Position, see Chapter 2, the section on 2nd Position. Commit it to memory- Once you've played a riff or scale enough times to feel comfortable, look away from the book and then try to do it purely from memory. When you have committed it

49

to memory, slow down and focus on your basic techniques (i.e. single notes and hand effects). Play it correctly as many times as you can before moving on. Always memorize your riffs and scales before jamming. You will able to impart more "feel" than if you are reading the music or tab. Using Hole 3B or Hole 2D?- Hole 3 Blow and hole 2 Draw are the same note ("G" on a key of "C" diatonic). We use the hole 3B (3 Blow) in this book because it is much easier for beginners to play than the hole 2D (2 Draw). If you don't have a problem playing the hole 2D, it is to your advantage to play it instead of hole 3B. The reason is that the hole 2 Draw is bendable, whereas the hole 3 Blow is not. See Chapter 3 for information on bending notes. Free "Jam-To" Blues MIDI le- If you would like a quick, easy background song to begin jamming to, you can use the free downloadable "Jam-To" MIDI File in "G" from our website that will play on your computer. See Chapter 9 for details on how to gain access to this MIDI le. CDs "keyed" to jam to- The CDs: Song Keys section found in the Members Area at HarmonicaLessons.com, as well as Volume 3 of this Beginning Book Series will tell you which is the correct key of harmonica for many favorite albums. Be sure that the harmonica you are using is in the same key as what is being used on the particular CD track. "Tabs" (or Tablature) dened- Tabs are a simplied way to notate harmonica solos, harmonica parts, melodies and songs, without having to formally read music. Directly below is an example of the HarmonicaLessons.com Text Tab system. The "Almost Blues Scale" is displayed in this tab style:

4B = hole 4 Blow

5D = hole 5 Draw

The 10-hole diatonic Text Tab system

For additional information on jamming- If you crave more information and different approaches to jamming, pick up "Vol. 3: Basic Blues Improv" of this Beginning Diatonic Harmonica Book Series or visit the Basic Blues Improv section within the Members Area at our website.

50

The "Almost Blues Scale"


The "Almost Blues Scale" is a blues scale without any bending. It is not a true blues scale, so we call it the "Almost" Blues Scale. This scale works great for beginners who haven't yet mastered bending, but who are ready to jump into jamming. The "real" blues scale (for advanced beginners and up who are accomplished at bending) is covered in "Vol. 3: Basic Blues Improv" or in the Members Area at our website.

5
Jamming

The "Almost Blues Scale"


Diatonic harmonica, played in 2nd Position

3B 5D

3D 4D

4B 4B

4D 3D

5D 3B

6B

Text Tab System: 4B = hole 4 Blow 5D = hole 5 Draw

Blues Riffs- A riff is a slang term for a short musical phrase that is usually repeated or repeatable. Simple blues riffs are perhaps the most common way for one to begin improvising on the harmonica. Use repetition of a single riff, and pauses between these riffs, to create a more melodic feeling to your playing.

Almost Blues Scale


51

Here's some examples of riffs from the "Almost Blues Scale": (ABS Riff = Almost Blues Scale Riff).

ABS Riff #1

3B 3D 4B 4D 4B 3D 3B

ABS Riff #2

4D 5D 4D 5D 6B

ABS Riff #3 (the Mannish Boy Riff)

3B 4B 3D 3B 3B 3B 3B 4B 3D 3B 3B 3B

ABS Riff #4

6B 5D 4D 5D 6B

ABS Riff #5

6B 5D 4D 4B 3D 3B

52

ABS Riff #6

3B 6B 5D 4D 3B 6B 5D 4D 3B 6B 5D 4D 3B
5
Jamming

Use your own timing- You can use your own timing with these riffs to make them t into whichever song you are playing with. The easiest way to do this is to begin with long-held notes. The notes that will almost always sound good when held would be the 3B, 4D, 5D, and 6B. How to make up your own riffs from the "Almost Blues Scale"- Play through the scale repeatedly until you can comfortably do it from memory. Then, take a small portion of it and repeat it. This section is now a new riff. You can start at the bottom, top, or anywhere in the middle of the scale to create a riff. Make it as long or as short as you'd like. Hold notes and add pauses between notes. You do not have to play the notes in the order of the scale. Change direction (up or down) within a riff, or don't. It will all sound good. Write down and/or record your favorites so you don't forget how they go. Resolution- Whenever you return to the "key note", that is, the note that is the same as the key of the song, this is called resolving or resolution. It typically tends to happen at the end of a verse or chorus and almost always at the end of the song. Basically, resolution lets the listener know that you've nished. Since you are playing in 2nd Position, this would be either hole 3B or 6B. (As you advance, you can use the hole 2 Draw instead of 3 Blow for resolution.) You do not need to resolve every riff or every time you nish. Play with the concept for a while and see how it works and sounds. Add techniques to your riffs- To add some interest to your notes, apply a technique or two. The Hand Tremolo (covered in Chapter 3) will work and sound great on long-held notes. Start with 3B, 4D, 5D, and 6B. If you are capable of bending notes (also covered in Chapter 3), try bending the hole 4 Draw. If you are more advanced and have substituted 2D for hole 3B, you can also add bending to the hole 2 Draw.

53

"When In Doubt" (Improv Tips)


Here's a collection of simple thoughts, tips, and basic concepts to keep in mind for jamming and for most general practice and playing situationsgood for players of all levels.

Jamming Tips & Shortcuts


When In Doubt... Use the "2 Draw4 Draw" Rule. Stick with holes 2 and 4 draw for all basic 2nd Position style jamming, especially blues. Use bending, hand effects, or any other techniques you know to create your own riffs. If you have problems playing hole 2 Draw, substitute 3 Blow until you are more successful with the hole 2 Draw. When In Doubt... Of what to play rhythmically: use more long-held notes for slow, medium, and fast tempos (tempo is the speed of the music). Add some dynamics (loud and softs), hand effects, or bending to these notes for interest. When In Doubt... Primarily play blow notes in the middle part of the harmonica to jam in 1st Position. When In Doubt... Primarily play draw notes at the low end of the harmonica to jam in 2nd Position. When In Doubt... ...of the key of the song, that the band you're jamming with is in... ask someone! Bass players or keyboard players usually are the best rst choice(s). When In Doubt... As to whether you're playing too much or too little when jamming with others, play less. If you'd like to be invited back, give the other musicians plenty of space to play and be heard, especially the singer. Try to play in the "ll" areas between vocal lines when the singer is not singing versus playing over their singing and then stopping when they stop. Drowning out the singer tends to really annoy them. If you want to play while they sing, play very simple riffs or chords and bring your volume down. When In Doubt... Of what to play when jamming: keep it real simple, and stick with the stuff you know you can

54

do. Avoid playing anything you've been practicing the last few weeksyou don't have it perfected yet. Repeat your riffs for a more melodic feel. When In Doubt... ...of how to get a "blusier" 2nd Position sound, use more bending on holes 2 and 4 Draw. When In Doubt... ...of how to get a more "country" 2nd Position sound, use more 3 Draw bending. When In Doubt... Don't think too much, close your eyes, play, and have fun.

5
Jamming

General Practicing/Jamming
When In Doubt... Lick your lips and the mouthpiece part of the harmonica before playing to prevent your lips from sticking to the harmonica. Repeat whenever necessary. When In Doubt... Knock the excess saliva out of the harmonica by rapping the harmonica (mouthpiece side down) against your leg or palm to keep the holes from clogging up. Repeat whenever necessary. When In Doubt... Get up off the chair and stand up for practicing and jamming to facilitate good breathing/ single note habits. Try to stand erect with your head up, back straight, and body relaxed.

55

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56

Chapter 6: Lesson Plans


Chapter Includes:
Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6

Lesson Plans
To help you focus in on what should be done rst, second, third, etc., we give you the Lesson Plans. Following the agenda below, week by week, will allow you to improve your playing skills in a logical and orderly fashion. Everyone learns differently, if lesson plans do not suit you, keep up with a regular practice and playing routine and you will do just ne.

6
Lesson Plans

Lesson Plan use- If you are a beginner, it's to your benet to stick to this schedule for the rst 4-6 six weeks. Fifteen minutes to an hour a day is a good amount of practice time. More practice time of course is better, but if you are consistent with your allotted time for a few months, you will improve tremendously from where you originally started. Don't rush your practicing, strive for quality and not quantity. For the "long haul," take more time- If you are in this for the "long haul", you will ultimately create better playing habits if you take the plans for Weeks 1-6 and do each week lesson plan for two weeks instead of one. It takes more patience to do it this way, but if you allow 2 months to work on the rst four weeks of lesson plans by focusing on single notes, hand effects, bending, only a few songs, etc., you will give yourself a much better chance to master the basic techniques of playing that you will use for a lifetime of harmonica playing. Take your time. If you don't feel comfortable moving on to a new weeks lesson plan, then don't. Move on when you feel ready. Like taking a private lesson- These weekly plans are based on the schedule you would be on if you were taking weekly 30-60 minute private lessons. Stay consistent with your practice and on schedule, and you will in essence be your own teacher.

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Week 1
Browse through the book- Read through Chapter 1: Getting Started rst, then browse through the rest of the book and see what is contained within. Make sure your harmonica is the correct type for this instruction. Play a bit- Before getting really serious, rst have some fun with your harmonica. Make up a song or melody, or try to gure out a simple song you already know without looking at the music (this is great ear training). Holding the harmonica- for now, hold the harmonica on the ends as outlined in Chapter 1: Simple Technique Tips. First Song- We know it may not be everyone's all-time favorite, but a great song to start with is "Mary Had A Little Lamb". At this point, only attempt to make the song recognizable, don't worry about playing techniques or making it "musical". Keep it simple for now. After playing the song 5-10 times, try to play it from memory. If you can't play the whole song, learn one section at a time. 1st Technique: Single Notes- Multiple notes (chords) are ne in the beginning, but to improve your sound and clean up your melodies, begin working on Single Notes using the "Vertical Slot" method. Don't jump around from hole to hole. Spend the majority of your time on the hole 4 blow and draw until you are 80-90% consistent (this may take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks). Use the "Use your ngers to hear a clear single note" trick (from the Chapter 3: Single Note section) to get the sound in your head. You can also visit HarmonicaLessons.com and listen to the free sound le examples that go with this book (see Chapter 9: Free Audio/Video les in the back of the book for more information).

Week 2
General Overview- Read through the explanations for the 1st and 2nd Positions found in Chapter 2: General Overview. A basic understanding of these two playing positions will allow you to jam with friends almost immediately. 2nd Technique: Hand Effects- Your second basic technique should be learning to hold the harmonica properly and how to use hand effects. Work through the Hand Effects section found in Chapter 3. Second Song- Read through and play "Oh Susanna" 5-10 times (use the sound le on our

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website for the timing and overall sound). When this is completed, try to play the song from memory. Only look at the notes when you are really stuck. Review- Continue working on your single note technique. At this point, single note playing is the most important technique for advancing on the harmonica. Go for the quality of notes and not quantity (i.e. go slow). Also, keep playing "Mary Had A Little Lamb" from memory. Slow, correct repetition is the key to fast improvement. 1st Scale- Read through and play the "Major Scale" 5-10 times (use the sound le on our website for the timing and overall sound). When this is completed, try to play the scale from memory. Remember to move the harmonica and not your head when you go from hole to hole (check in the mirror).

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Lesson Plans

Week 3
Breathing- Read through the Breathing section in Chapter 3. Mastering the breathing technique for harmonica takes many years, but a great deal can be done in the rst few weeks or months by following the tips in that section. Combining Techniques- Going very slowly, play through either "Mary Had A Little Lamb" or "Oh Susanna" from memory. After success on one song, you can try the other later. Now, even more slowly, try to play the song with perfectly clean, clear single notes. Remember to move the harmonica and not your head when you go from hole to hole. When, and only when you can do this successfully, add the Hand Tremolo effect on the long held notes of each song. Review- Continue working on your single note technique. The cleaner and more naturally you can play single notes, the easier the bending technique will be. Also, keep playing your two songs and the "Major Scale" from memory. Slow correct repetition is the key to fast improvement. When practicing the hand tremolo technique (use the major scale one note at a time), play as loudly as possible to achieve the maximum effect. New Song- "Home On The Range". Use the breathing tips from Chapter 3 if you have problems with the high draw notes (use the sound le on our website for the timing and overall sound). Many times songs like this with high notes sound better and are easier to play on lower keyed diatonics. Lower keyed harmonicas like "G" and "A" can be purchased through HarmonicaStore.com in the Diatonics Harmonicas section. If you feel ready to buy another key, the key of "A" is an excellent choice. One Liner tips- If you haven't done so, read through Chapter 8: One Liner Tips. You will nd that re-reading this section from time to time is very helpful.

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Ear Training- Beginning "ear training" is an easy, fun way to develop your ability to recognize and pick out musical sounds, melodies, and patterns. The sooner you start, the sooner your "ear" begins to develop. This ability will allow you to work out your favorite riffs, songs, and melodies in the very near future. Begin by selecting a simple, beginning level song, that you are very familiar with. Use Chapter 4 to nd a recognizable melody. "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" is a great choice (if you are familiar with it). Do not play through the song, merely observe the starting note (very rst note of songin this case, hole 4 Blow). Look away from the monitor or your printout and try to play the song by feel. As you work out the beginning notes of the song, write them down and continue working out the melody. Don't give up and "cheat" by looking at the correct notation. This may take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days to work out. It's hard for everyone at rst, but it gets easier each time you try a new song.

Week 4
Use the Mirror- If you haven't been doing so, stand in from of the mirror and practice single notes on just hole 4 and then on the "Major Scale" from Chapter 4. Look for any signs of visible tension in your forehead and eye area, around your mouth, neck, shoulders, and upper body in general. Try to eliminate any visible tension or tightening you can nd. Don't make "faces" when you play, try to look condent and in control (even if you feel otherwise). Keep your head up. Remember to move the harmonica and not your head when you go from hole to hole. Once or twice a week, re-check yourself on the above points in front of the mirror.

Use a mirror for instant visual feedback.

Bending- If your single note playing is now consistent, carefully go through the Bending section in Chapter 3. It is particularly important to listen to the Bending sound les on our

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website, both "correct" and "incorrect" examples, numerous times to make sure you clearly recognize a correct bending sound vs. an incorrect bending sound. It's important that you know when you are truly successful and when you are not. Stay with whatever hole seems to give you the best results. Most likely this will be either hole 4 Draw or hole 2 Draw. If you don't have much luck with either of these, try the hole 1 Draw. If hole 2 Draw sounds awful, read through the breathing tips in Chapter 3. New Song- Pick any song from Chapter 4 that you haven't done, but would like to do. Additional songs are available in "Vol. 5: Songs & Riffs" of this Beginning Diatonic Harmonica Book Series or from within the Members Area on our website. Avoid learning too many songs at once. It's better to play a few well than many songs not-so-good. Review- Review everything you know how to play up to this point. Whenever you practice, begin by going over your "old stuff" to get yourself warmed up. Then work on the newer techniques, songs, and riffs. Make sure you clearly understand the difference between the 1st and 2nd Positions (from Chapter 2) and how to use them. Ear Training- Pick another song or two from Chapter 4 that you've never played or have not played much. Follow the same instructions as outlined in the "Week 3: Ear Training" assignment. Remember to pick out the notes by yourself. Reading the tablature does not improve your "musical ear". Don't give up, it really does get easier, and the reward is worth the hard work.

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Lesson Plans

Week 5
Terms & Denitions- If you haven't done so, read through the Terms & Denitions section of Chapter 2. Many of the music and harmonica-related terms from this book are explained in this section. Simple Blues Improv- "Let's Jam!" Chapter 5: Jamming explains an easy approach to jamming with blues music (or even rock or country). Learn the "Almost Blues Scale", and use this set of notes to play along with the 12 bar blues MIDI le in the key of "G", Slow_Blues_in_ G.mid (available for free at the website). If you already own a CD or two that you know the keys to, you can also jam to any of the songs that are in the key of "G" with your "C" diatonic harmonica (played in 2nd Position). Techniques, Songs, Improv- After a month or two of playing, you should be spending roughly equal amounts of time on techniques, songs, and improv (jamming). Not necessarily in every practice session, but by the end of the week, your practicing should have covered all three areas. Technique practice allows you to do more with your songs and improv. Song practice teaches you a sense of melodicism that ultimately is applied to your jamming. The

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improv practice teaches you a sense of freedom and creativity that ultimately is applied to your song playing. Review & continue work on bending- Continue focusing your time and attention on the Single Notes and Bending techniques. At this point, these are the two most important vvtechniques for advancing on the harmonica. If you are not having much luck with Bending, you may need to: 1. Better your Single Note playing. 2. Use the Bending sound les (on the website) to ascertain that you absolutely know the difference between a true bent note and a note that "changes sound but isn't really bending", 3. Obtain a lower and/or higher pitched harmonica which you may nd easier to bend on (not a guarantee, but its works for many people having problems- try the key of "A" for lower and key of "F" for higher), or... 4. All of the above suggestions. Listen to music with harmonica- Start listening more intently to music with harmonica in it. The HarmonicaStore.comMusic CDs section has many great choices for listening and playing to. Check out the "Recommended For Beginners CDs" page for suggested CDs for the person just getting started. All the songs on these CDs have been "keyed" and are available in the Members Area, the CDs: Song Keys section of our website, or in "Volume 3: Basic Blues Improv" of this book series. It's important to use the correct key harmonica when jamming with CDs. Ear Training- It's now time to nd out how easy to learn and easy to play some of your favorite folk-rock singer's harmonica playing really is. Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Alanis Morissette, Billy Joel, John Lennon, etc., are great singers and musicians, but are not expert harmonica players (technique-wise, they are at a beginner to intermediate level). These musicians predominately blow and draw in the middle of the harmonica and "fake" a little bending (no new notes obtainedjust a slight bending effect, but nothing fancy or difcult). As mentioned in the previous bullet point, use the CDs: Song Keys section to determine the key of harmonica that is used on a favorite song by one of these artists. Through trial and error, you can play what they played. Really, it's not tough stuff. *Very Important Note- play along to the song with the same key harmonica that the player originally used.

Week 6
"Further in your mouth"- Being especially careful not to lose your single notes, attempt to put the harmonica a bit further into your mouth (a 1/16 to an 1/8 of an inch is a good start). Review the Vertical Slot instruction in Chapter 3 if needed. This will improve your tone, your

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volume, and force you to breathe more from the diaphragm. We want to avoid the pushing and pulling of air that naturally occurs at the front of the mouth from your lips. Basic Blues Improv- At this point, if you would like to better your jamming skills and understanding, you may want to consider picking up "Vol. 3: Basic Blues Improv" of this book series (the info is also found in the Members Area of our website). The different approaches to jamming that are discussed include "Techniques Improv", "Blues Riffs", and "Target Notes". New Harmonica(s)- If it is not a nancial burden, we recommend that you purchase one or more additional keys of diatonics. As previously stated, the bending technique may be easier for some people on a lower or higher pitched harmonica. Also, a few more keys of harmonicas will allow you to play along to more songs on your favorite CDs. Ultimately, you will want to get most or all of the 12 different keys so that you can play to any song in any key of music. After the key of "C," you should pick up an "A", "D", "F", "G", and "Bb"roughly in that order. You certainly don't need to buy them all at once. Review- Continue focusing your time and attention on the Single Notes and Bending techniques. At this point, these are the two most important techniques for advancing on the harmonica (intentionally repeated from the Week 5 Lesson Plan). Review and practice any other techniques you know that were mentioned in the previous 5 weeks of Lesson Plans. Also, review all your songs and riffs. New Songs and Riffs- If you're ready for additional songs and riffs, pick up "Volume 4: Songs & Riffs" (or head to our website). Any songs that you like that are labeled Beginning Level should not be a problem for you to play. You may be able to begin playing some of the Intermediate Level songs and riffs. (The Intermediate Level songs and riffs contain bent notes which are used in the melody, along with standard blow and draw notes.)

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Lesson Plans

Congratulations! If you've made it through the six weeks of Lesson Plans in an evenly paced 6-12 weeks of practicing, you may now ofcially call yourself an Intermediate Level player. At this point, keep trying to better your playing technique, keep learning new songs, keep jamming along with CDs, and when ever possible, play with real live people.

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Chapter 7: Frequently Asked Questions


Chapter Includes:
Starting Out Harmonica Purchases Playing Technique Theory and Jamming Questions Advanced/Miscellaneous Repairs and Maintenance

FAQs
Here is a collection of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) that will help if you're just getting started. Take a look at the various categories list above - you are likely to nd your question(s) answered within those topics.

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FAQs

Starting Out
Can anyone, even without a musical background, learn to play harmonica? Yes. Do I need to be able to read music to play harmonica? No. We use a system for notating harmonica music called the "Text Tab System." Tabs are a simplied way to notate harmonica solos, harmonica parts, melodies and songs, without having to formally read music. In this system, 4B means blow (exhale) through hole 4 and 5D means to draw (inhale) through hole 5. What is the difference between a chromatic and diatonic harmonica? They are really two different instruments. See Chapter 2 for an in-depth look at the two. Most good players specialize in one or the other. It is less common to nd players that excel on both, but they are out there. Is it OK to hold the harmonica by the ends when just starting out? Yes. It makes good sense to only work on or concentrate on one thing at a time. If you're memorizing a song or practicing single notes, you don't need to worry about what your hands are doing. Keep it simple, have fun, focus on one point at a time, and you'll progress more quickly.

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If certain holes don't play correctly, like my hole 2 draw (or not at all,) how do I know if it is me or the harmonica? 99% of the time it is the player. Beginning (and sometimes intermediate players) have a tough time getting a good sound out of the 2, 3, 7, 8, and 9 draw holes. This is normally caused by incorrect breathing habits (i.e. sucking the air in from your lips and into your mouth instead of breathing in through the harmonica and continuing that breath through your mouth down to your diaphragm.) From time to time, you will get a bad harmonica out of the box, but is not as likely with the better brands and models. See Chapter 3, Breathing section for more information. Are there any shortcuts to getting good quickly with the different playing techniques? Yes and no. Yes, by not getting into bad habits early on that you may have to break later, you will save time in the long run. And no, it's not merely a matter of how much you know and how much you practice. It takes time for new ideas and abilities to really sink in. It is said that to truly master any art form, it takes a minimum of 5-10 years. This doesn't mean that you can't get very good in a shorter amount of time, it just means you will lack the experience that makes the masters really the masters. The longer you play, the more this makes sense. Is it normal for my mouth and hands to get tired after playing for a while? People starting out may nd that if they practice or play for more than 10 minutes, their lips and possibly their hands get tired and begin to fatigue. This is normal. The best thing to do is to practice for 10 minutes 2 or 3 times a day and build up the associated muscles and your endurance (it won't take too long). Remember, even 5 or 10 minutes a day is better than no minutes. How much should I practice? The simple answer is... as much as possible. The problem is that a lot of us don't have unlimited time in our day to practice as much as we would like. If you want to keep improving you need to practice and play whenever possible. 15 to 30 minutes a day is a good amount of time if you can stick with it. There are a number of professional musicians that practice an hour or two a day, everyday, and have done so for many years or decades. Do what you can, it will pay off over time. As mentioned above, beginners may nd it easier to practice for 10 minutes 2 or 3 times a day and build up endurance (it won't take too long). Remember, even 5 or 10 minutes a day is better than no minutes. What is the difference between practicing and playing? Thinking vs. doing. When you practice, take your time and think about what you're doing so you can build up the correct patterns and muscle memory. When you "play" or perform, you shouldn't be thinking at all. Let the muscle memory you've built up "do it's thing" and just let

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it happen. There is an old Zen saying that gets right to the point for all performance situations, "Don't think, do." I've heard some players soak their harmonicas before they play. Should I do this? No. Soaking ruins wood harmonicas and does nothing for plastic or metal ones. This practice was done decades ago when all that was available was wood-combed harmonicas. The soaking caused the wood to swell up and make the harmonica more airtight and easier to play. These soaked harmonicas didn't last the players very long (and still don't). How do I know if I'm a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player? Ultimately, it doesn't matter as long as you are having fun playing. With that said, it can help when learning to know roughly where you stand so that you can choose the appropriate techniques, songs, and information for your skill and knowledge level. Beginning Level: Anywhere from never having touched a harmonica before, to having put in the equivalent of a few months of practice on basic techniques, songs, and improv. Intermediate Level: You've been playing regularly for 3-6 months or longer. You should be comfortable (but not necessarily perfect) with the four basic techniques: single notes, hand effects, bending, breathing, and have at least a few songs and riffs memorized. If you haven't already done so, this is the time to start playing with others. Advanced Level: You've been playing for a few years or longer. You are familiar with most everything harmonica players do, but you still need work in some areas to have the condence to call yourself a "pro". How do I use other key diatonic harmonicas after I learn to play the key of "C" harmonica? The different keyed diatonic harmonicas are all designed to play the same. A key of "G" diatonic will play the same as a key of "C" harmonica (only lower). The correct sharps or ats are added to the different keys to make them play the same. Therefore, your songs and riffs that you learned on the "C", will start and end on the same holes on the other eleven keys of diatonic harmonicas. You don't have to do anything other than to know you are now playing in a different key. If you are playing with other musicians, be sure to let them know what key you are in. Why is it that holes 2 Draw and 3 Blow on my "C" diatonic are the same note, "G"? Wouldn't it make more sense to have an "F" note in hole 2 Draw, so you wouldn't need to bend to play a complete "Major Scale" on the rst four holes? First of all, if you never needed to bend a note on a diatonic harmonica, it would basically be a chromatic harmonica (without use of the button). The bent notes and bending sound is what gives the diatonic its character.

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FAQs

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The duplicate notes on the hole 2 Draw and the hole 3 Blow allow the player to play both a "C" chord on the blow and a "G" chord on the draw (on a standard key of "C" diatonic). Both of these chords must contain a "G" note to be correct. This goes back to the original design and layout of the diatonic harmonica (called the Richter Tuning), which enables you to play the two most important chords for simple songs of that era (the "C" and "G" chords for the key of "C"). This design ultimately led to the unintentional, yet very fortunate discovery of 2nd Position (or "Cross Harp") blues style, that is now the norm. I'm very eager to learn to play the harmonica, but sometimes I get confused when reading instructions or looking at notes. Are there any tips that you could give me? Take your time, and read over the information as many times as it takes for you to understand it. Going over material three or four times is not considered unreasonable when trying to learn a brand new skill.

Harmonica Purchases
Why should I buy a more expensive harmonica if I'm just starting out? Without store discounts, the best quality, most expensive diatonic harmonicas are around $20-$60. That is pretty cheap for a good quality instrument. Learning the harmonica, or anything else for that matter from scratch, can be very difcult and frustrating at times. Cheap harmonicas tend to be poorly constructed and therefore leak a lot of air. This means they are hard to play (for anyone, at any level). Pay the extra $10 or $20 and get a harmonica you can count on to play great right out of the box. Are wood harmonicas better than the plastic ones? No. Quality wise, it tends to be just the opposite. Most of the wood harmonicas leak too much air and are not recommended for beginners. In terms of the sound or tone, the choice between wood and plastic (or metal) combs comes down to personal preference. Any reasonable quality harmonica in the hands of a good player will sound good. *Footnote- there are specialists out there that make or modify wood combs to play better and they are quite nice, although many times not inexpensive. Hohner makes a harmonica called a "Blues Harp". Is this better for playing blues than a standard diatonic harmonica like the Lee Oskar or Special 20? No. The "Blues Harp" is just a name for a wood combed diatonic that is made by the Hohner Company. It is no better for playing blues than any other harmonica that has "Blues" in it's name. Are there many different types of harmonicas? Yes, quite a few, but none are used as much as the diatonic and chromatic harmonicas. Some of the other types include: bass harmonica, chord harmonica, tremolo and echo effects harmonicas, etc. 68

What is the difference between a harp (or blues harp) and a standard diatonic harmonica? Nothing. The term harp is short for "blues harp" and they are both slang for harmonica. Yes, it is a bit confusing at times when people use the term "harp" to refer to the harmonica since there is another instrument called harp that is used in classical music (and made popular in the movies by one of the Marx Bros). That's slang for ya. Other slang terms for harmonica include: mouth organ, tin sandwich, French harp, short harp, and Mississippi saxophone. How useful is it to buy songbooks (specically for the harmonica?) Very useful for some people. Buy the books with the songs that you like and know. Anything that gets you to play, practice, and have fun, is good. Visit our HarmonicaStore.com for recommended song and tab books. How can I go about getting the song sheets or harmonica tablature so that I can learn to play the harmonica licks on the blues albums I own? First, you can check at HarmonicaStore.com to see if there is a book which has the transposed riffs for the songs or album you are looking for (i.e. the tab book, "The Harp Styles of Bob Dylan" has harmonica tablature along with lyrics, and chord changes). Unfortunately, you may not nd precisely what you are looking for. If this is the case, check with your local music stores for a harmonica teacher that can work out the riffs for you. Even a guitar teacher with a bit of harmonica knowledge can gure out simple harmonica riffs on the guitar and then help you transpose them into harmonica tablature. You can also post a request for assistance in the forums at HarmonicaLesssons.com. It's possible a kind soul will be willing to help. Aside from what you've mentioned earlier, are there any other recommended purchases I could make that would help in my learning and playing? Yes: 1. A rhythm or timing device is a great tool to work with. An amplied drum machine is the best choice (or a computer with a sound card that can play MIDI les). With a drum machine, you can hear and FEEL the beat. They can be expensive, but if you can nd a used one, you won't be disappointed. (Try looking at one of the auctions sites like Ebay.com or at Craigslist.com.) For a new drum machine, check at your local music store or at HarmonicaStore.com for recommendations. 2. A metronome is also a good choice, but avoid the ones with ashing lights and try to nd one that is loud enough to hear while you are playing. The last time I checked, Seiko made a nice Metronome card. The trick is to put it in a place where you can hear it. You can stick it in a cap, on or near your ear. Or, you can hold it in front of you in your hand (with the mini speaker up) between your little nger and the nger next to it, so that you can hear the beat. 3. The Lee Oskar Harmonica System Tool Kit for repairs and modications. It comes with a simple instruction booklet that explains what needs to be done and why. 4. An electronic chromatic tuner will come in handy for keeping your harmonica playing in tune and checking your bending skill.

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FAQs

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5. There are many other fun and useful accessories like: carrying cases, microphones and amps, neck racks, T-shirts, CDs, and more. But, all you really need to get started is a decent harmonica, a healthy interest, some spare time, and this book. I don't want to buy all 12 key harmonicas at once. Which are the best ones to get rst and in what order? Start with a harmonica in the key of "C". Then you should pick up an "A", "D", "F", "G", and "Bb"roughly in that order, but you don't need to buy them all at once. What are the best keys of harmonicas for playing the blues? The key the song is in is usually determined by what key the singer is comfortable singing in. Most commonly, you will nd the keys of "A", "C", "D", "E", "F", "G", and "Bb" in blues, rock, country and folk. Remember that you have to do the math on the key of the music to gure out which harmonica you need to play 2nd Position (Cross Harp) in that key (i.e. for the key of "E" you would play 2nd Position on a key of "A" diatonic). How long should a harmonica typically last before one of the reeds (notes) goes "bad" (i. e. at) and I have to buy a new one? Harmonicas can last anywhere from 2 weeks to a year or longer depending on how much it gets used, how hard it's being played, how correctly it's being played, and the luck of the draw (sometimes we get a good one, sometimes not). On the average, most people playing consistently will get 3-6 months out of their harmonica before notes go "at" or become unplayable. Unfortunately, the more air-tight the harmonica is, the easier it is to playand because you can get more air through the harmonica with less difculty, it takes "more of a beating" and won't last as long as a lesser quality harmonica that leaks air and is difcult to play. Sometimes you just can't win. Keep in mind that Lee Oskar and most Hohner harmonicas are capable of having the reed plates replaced instead of replacing the whole harmonica. The replacement reed plates are available through HarmonicaStore.com. I just purchased a harmonica that has no numbers on it. How do I play along with the tablature system that you use for songs and riffs? Hold it with the low notes to the left and the left most hole will be hole 1. If you're serious about playing, you are better off just buying a new harmonica that has numbers. We recommend the Lee Oskar harmonica or the Hohner Special 20 in the key of "C" for anyone starting out.

Playing Technique
Does it matter which hand you hold the harmonica with? Yes. It works best to hold it in your left hand (regardless of being left-handed or right-handed) because then the biggest part of the cup you form around the harmonica will surround the

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low notes. As you advance, you will play more and more at the low end, and the bigger hand effect sound comes from the biggest part of the cup (this is assuming that you are holding the harmonica with the numbers facing up, with the low notes to the left, like a piano). A couple of great players, Sonny Terry and Paul Buttereld, held the harmonica in their right hand, but they also had to hold the harmonica upside down. There is no advantage to this if you already know the correct way to hold it. Is it OK to play chords (two or more notes) if I can't play single notes? Yes. Many players use chords on purpose for effect and for contrast to single notes. Keep practicing your single notes so that you ultimately have the choice between the two. Why is it that sometimes I get great single notes and other times I don't? Numerous reasons. Most likely you are going too fast or trying to do too much. Slow down, take your time, listen to what your doing, and let the muscle memory develop with clean correct single notes. Another reason could be that your lips and mouth are getting tired. Take a break and come back to it after a few minutes. As the weeks and months pass, you will naturally gain the endurance to play as long as you like. If you lose your single notes while going up or down the harmonica, check in the mirror to see that you are moving the harmonica and not your head. What if I can't tell if I'm playing a clean single note or not? Pick a hole to play a clean single note on, let's say 4 Blow. Place your index ngers tightly over holes 3 and 5 and cram the whole thing into your mouth. If your ngers are still tightly covering holes 3 and 5 then you should be hearing a nice clean single note out of hole 4. Do this over and over and over again until you've memorized the sound. If the ngers just aren't working for you, try putting tape over the holes surrounding hole 4. When in doubt, come back to this drill. Why don't you recommend curling your tongue (U-blocking) to achieve a single note? We don't recommend the U-block method (sometimes called the tube-tongue method) for beginners. First, it can only be done by people that were born with a certain set of genes (about 50-70% of the population). The rest of the world cannot physically put their tongue into a tube to produce a single note no matter how hard they try. Second, the U-block method utilizes the tongue to achieve a single note, and although it is possible, it is much more difcult for a beginner to learn to bend notes and to get a big, fat tone. Also with practice, both the Vertical Slot method and the Tongue Blocking will ultimately give you a full bodied tone on chords and single notes which is created by dropping your jaw and expanding your oral cavity for optimum resonance. It is very hard to get this full bodied tone with the U-block method because the technique tends to limit the airow and resonance chamber. 71

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FAQs

When I play songs or riffs, should I move the harmonica or my head to get to the next note? From day 1, try to get in the habit of moving the harmonica and not your head. Watch yourself in the mirror to see if you are moving the harmonica correctly. Most of us tend to move our heads in the beginning. This is one of the most common causes of losing single notes. Is it easier to bend notes on a "F" harmonica than on a key of "C" harmonica? It is for some and not for others. Typically, if someone nds it easier to bend on a high harmonica like an "F", then they may have problems bending on a low one like a "G", and vice-versa for the rest of the folks. If you are learning to bend and have better luck with an "F" or "G" harmonica versus the standard key of "C", by all means stick with the easiest one to bend and work on the other keys later. I noticed that when I have a string of blow-draw notes back to back, my playing sounds kind of choppy. Are there any tricks to make these blow-draw patterns come out more smoothly? One of the big reasons the harmonica can sound like a "toy" instead of a real instrument is because of the choppy blow-draw sound. A lot of pros go out of their way to make the harmonica sound less choppy. They do it by purposely attempting to smooth out (make legato) the blow-draw motion. This is done by playing around with the pattern and listening closely to what you do, until it sounds as smooth as you can get it. Also, if you can predominately stick to draw notes or predominately stick to blow notes in your playing, you will be able to play a true legato sound. Remember, you have to completely stop the airow momentarily to change air direction when you do a blow-draw pattern and the brief stop is what makes it choppy or "staccato". Of course this is not always possible when you play, but since 2nd Position is primarily draw notes anyway, you can make it work in your improv. Paul Buttereld got around this problem by "over-emphasizing" the blow-draw patterns. By exaggeration, he was able to make this innate weakness into a strength. Is the "Tongue Blocking" method better than the "Vertical Slot" (advanced version of whistle or lipping or pucker) method for playing blues? Many great blues players use the Tongue Blocking method of producing single notes and creating special effects. Then again, many great blues players use the Vertical Slot method for what they play. More commonly, you will nd the good players use both methods and switch back and forth when one seems more appropriate to use. The Chicago blues style is typically characterized by Tongue Blocking and the sounds and effects that go with it. Tongue Blocking adds great additional sounds for the intermediate and advanced players, whereas, the Vertical Slot method is better for beginners, especially if they are learning to bend. It is possible to bend notes while Tongue Blocking, but it is much easier to bend using the Vertical Slot method at all skill levels. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages.

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I just got a harmonica holder. I'd like to be able to play while I'm playing guitar. But this thing feels so unnatural. Any tips on how to properly use a neck holder? Can I play 2nd Position or only 1st Position (as many people seem to do)? It seems that it pops out every time I put any pressure on it. You need to buy a better one. It is possible to play 2nd Position with a neck holder, but it is a bit tougher. John Hammond Jr. is a singer/guitar and harmonica player that does a great job playing blues with the harmonica on a rack. Visit HarmonicaStore.com for harmonica holder choices.

Theory & Jamming Questions


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What is the difference between 1st Position and 2nd Position? 1st Position (or "Straight Harp") is mostly, but not exclusively, blowing in the middle part of the harmonica which means you are playing your "C" major diatonic harmonica in the key of "C". 2nd Position ("Cross Harp") is predominately, but not exclusively, drawing at the low end of the harmonica. 2nd Position puts you in the key of "G" on a "C" major diatonic harmonica. Why do so many players use the 2nd Position instead of 1st Position? Because the important notes in 2nd Position are the low draw notes (1, 2, 3, and 4 draw) and these low draw notes can be bent down for a bluesy effect and will soon give you all the missing notes on the harmonica that are used in blues, rock, and country. What is a "riff" or "lick?" A short musical phrase usually repeated or repeatable. In classical music, it is sometimes referred to as a "motif". How do I gure out which harmonica to pick up when I want to play 2nd Position ("Cross Harp" style) on a song? The 2nd Position key on a diatonic harmonica is always a "perfect 5th" or seven half-steps above the key of the harmonica. If you purchase a Lee Oskar harmonica, you will notice there is a handy little chart included in the box that shows you the 2nd Position key for every key harmonica. Also, each Lee Oskar harmonica has the appropriate 1st and 2nd Position keys printed on the ends. We've also included a "Harmonica Keys & Positions Chart" in Chapter 2 for easy reference. Is there a way to nd out what keys the songs on a CD are played in, so as to know in advance which harmonica I need to jam to it with? And how would I know what key a song is in that is being played on the radio? Playing to the radio is difcult for anyone on any instrument. We don't recommend it unless you've been playing a long time (heck, sometimes before you can gure what key of harmonica works best, the song ends). The best way to get CD's "keyed" is to have a friend come over

FAQs

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who is a guitar player or keyboard player with a good ear and ask them to "key" the songs for you. If that doesn't work, go to a local music store and try to nd a harmonica teacher who can do it for you in a private lesson. For keying songs, a half hour lesson with a guitar teacher will work also. Any teacher worth his salt should be able to key songs extremely quickly (5-10 CD's is possible). It is denitely worth the money to get your favorite CD's keyed. It's not good to play to music with the wrong key harmonica, it makes it difcult for you to recognize when you are playing in-tune or out-of-tune. What is "12-Bar Blues?" "12-Bar Blues" is short for a 12-measure (measure is another word for bar) chord progression, which at completion, cycles through and repeats itself as many times as needed for the verses, choruses, and solos in a song. An extremely high percentage of blues tunes have this as the background for the singing and lead playing. The 12-Bar chord progression is generally played by the rhythm guitar, piano, and bass. You will even hear many early rock and roll, country, and pop songs that use a 12-Bar Blues chord progression as their backdrop.

Advanced/Miscellaneous
Which is the best microphone and amp combination for using on stage? First of all, don't buy anything based purely on price, specications, personal recommendations, or pro endorsements. Your purchases should be based on the way they sound. When possible, try to play through the equipment rst and then A/B (compare) with other mics and amps. Take a musician friend with you when you are trying out equipment to get another opinion. Many of the great and inuential players play (or played) through junk equipment. It is really about 95% "you", and 5% the equipment for that nal great sound. Also, aside from the sound (tone) you get from a mic and amp combo, don't forget to pay attention to how much volume you can get before feedback. The best tone in the world won't do you any good if you can't get it loud enough so people can hear you before feedback level (high pitched squealing from an amp or PA system). Many of the top blues players prefer old Fender amps (typically the Fender Bassman), and use a bullet microphone (typically the Shure Green Bullet). You'll have better feedback control if you get a mic that has a volume control or an on/off switch. See Vol. 3: "Basic Blues Improv" of this Beginning Diatonic Harmonica Book Series for more information. How do I stay inspired to play when I don't have anyone to jam and practice with? (Philosophical answer) It mostly comes down to who "you" are. The majority of people that start playing harmonica will quit fairly soon because after the initial excitement and newness wears off, they realize

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it's very difcult to "get good" and they're not willing to put in the required time and energy it typically takes many years. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. If harmonica is just not in your soul, it can't be forced in. Most people quit new activities like golf or piano or karate for the same reason. Those of us that stick with the harmonica through the good and the bad times, do so because we are natural born harmonica players (based on a love for it, not talent) and must consider ourselves lucky that we found the harmonica. Having a love for a specic activity is not mandatory and can not be forced. Time will tell if harmonica is a short lived past-time for you or a lifelong passion. Either way, have fun and enjoy what you do. How do I stay inspired to play when I don't have anyone to jam and practice with? (Practical answer) Find ways to make your practicing more fun. Different is good. When you are repeating the same things over and over again to commit them to muscle memoryand this is the ONLY way to get good, then change something else in your environment to add interest. Try practicing while watching TV, or listening to talk radio, or when you go for a walk. Or, play in a room or place you don't normally practice (i.e. the garage, backyard, friend's house, car, bathroom, school room). Or, in a place with naturally good acoustics (i.e. like a large hallway, bathroom, or stairwell), or in a neighboring place of beauty (i.e. local beach, mountain, desert, forest, park). You may also nd it more fun to play and practice with a CD or MIDI le that is in the same key that you are playing in. Lastly, nd people to play with (see next question). What are the best ways to nd other people to jam with? Unless you get real lucky, jamming partners won't nd you, you will have to nd them. Ask friends and family members if they know of anyone that plays guitar, or keyboards, or sings, who might like to jam. Don't be afraid to ask people. There are millions of "closet" musicians out there that are too shy to ask someone else to play with them. Don't be shy and don't worry that you may not be good enough. Everyone has to start somewhere. If someone you talk to doesn't think you're good enough to play with them, ne, move on and ask someone else. You can also try posting ads at local music stores, in local papers, at local supermarkets, or on the web. Just be careful and smart when dealing with people you don't know. Talk to them on the phone rst and then think about taking a friend with you if you schedule a jam session. I have recently acquired an unusual harmonica. How can I get some information on it? Check out some of the websites on this page: http://www.harmonicalinks.com/others.html. Someone at one of these sites should be able to help you out.

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I have a four hole harmonica. Do you have any tips for 4 hole harmonicas? This refers to the mini-harmonicas (sometimes made into a necklace) or a real simple kids' harmonica. In most cases, the rst hole (lowest note) is equivalent to the hole 4 on a standard 10-hole diatonic harmonica. Any songs that would start on hole 4 on a standard diatonic would now start on hole 1. Hole 1 is the beginning of the major scale. Playing options are limited, but they can be a fun diversion. Is there an advantage to closing your eyes when you perform (or practice)? For many people, closing their eyes allows them better concentration and focus on the matter at hand. When your eyes are open you are constantly taking in visual data which can distract you, without you even being aware of it. You may have noticed that some musicians that don't close their eyes sometimes stare blankly into space. This accomplishes the same thing. Whatever keeps you focused in the moment (of playing) is good. To play the blues well, do I need to live it? No. Although it may seem to be the case from time to time, life is not a "B" movie. The most soulful players, blues or otherwise, play what feels good to them and not what they think they are supposed to play. After you repeat riffs and scales hundreds or thousands of times, they start to become instinctive and just ow out. There are no shortcuts for this to happen, it just takes time, and it comes when it comes. The less you think about it, the faster it comes (or seems to anyway). My two year old daughter would like to play harmonica. Can she start learning at this age? That may be a little young to get started, but the decision should be made by the parent. If you do decide to give your child a harmonica, be sure to give her a harmonica large enough so that she can't accidentally swallow it. There are oversize kid harmonicas available. Take a look at Harmonica4kids.com for more information.

Repairs & Maintenance


If I nd a problem with the harmonica, can I take/send it back to where it was purchased for an exchange? You can only return harmonicas, faulty or not, if they haven't yet been played (and that is hard to prove). Federal and State health laws prohibit their return and it is in everyone's best interest as consumers to limit any possible spread of disease or viruses. If you have played the harmonica, your best choices are to send it back to the manufacturer, try to x it yourself, or send it to a 3rd party repair person. If everything works ne except the hole 2 Draw, read the next question.

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If certain holes don't play correctly like my hole 2 Draw (or not at all), how do I know if it is me or the harmonica? Most of the holes seem to work just ne. 99% of the time it is the player. Beginning (and sometimes intermediate players) have a tough time getting a good sound out of 2, 3, 7, 8, and 9 draw holes. This is normally caused by incorrect breathing habits (i.e. sucking the air in from your lips and into your mouth instead of breathing in through the harmonica and continuing that breath through your mouth down to your diaphragm). From time to time you will get a bad harmonica out of the box, but is not as likely with the better brands and models. See the Breathing section in Chapter 3 for more information. How long should a harmonica typically last before one of the reeds (notes) goes "bad" (i. e. at?) Harmonicas can last anywhere from 2 weeks to a year or longer depending on how much it gets used, how hard it's being played, how correctly it's being played, and the luck of the draw (sometimes we get a good one, sometimes not). On the average, most people will get 3-9 months out of their harmonica before notes go "at" or become unplayable. Unfortunately, the more air tight the harmonica is, the easier it is to play and because you can get more air through the harmonica, it takes "more of a beating" and won't last as long as a harmonica that leaks air and is difcult to play. Sometimes you just can't win. Keep in mind that Lee Oskar and most Hohner harmonicas are capable of having the reed plates replaced instead of replacing the whole harmonica. The replacement reed plates are available through our online Store. How do I keep the excess saliva and the condensation from my breath from getting in the harmonica and gumming up the reeds? Get in the habit of frequently rapping the harmonica (mouthpiece side down) against your leg or palm to knock out the excess saliva and condensation from your breath. Do this before and after you put the harmonica into your mouth. If the reeds are stuck together with saliva, they can't vibrate and make sound. I notice when I remove the cover plates that there is a reed plate on the top and a reed plate on the bottom of the comb. Is one reed plate for the blows and one for the draw notes? Yes. When you hold the harmonica so that the low notes are to the left (the shorter reeds should be to the right with the cover plates removed), the top reed plate houses the blow reeds and the bottom reed plate houses the draw reeds. I have a hole (note) on the harmonica, that plays and makes a sound, but it sometimes hesitates before coming out. It seems to not play and then it does. Is there a way to x this or adjust the reed so that it doesn't "hesitate"? Many times when notes seem to "hesitate" or "stick", they need to be adjusted (i.e. "gapped").

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The reed that is hesitating, is most likely even with (or parallel) to the reed plate that it is attached to. You may notice that the surrounding reeds that do not "stick" when you play them, are slightly away from the reed plate. This is referred to as "gapping". The vibrating end of the reed should be slightly away (up) from the reed plate so that your air can get between the reed and reed plate to make the reed vibrate and thus create the sound. If the air cannot easily get between the two, the note seems to "hesitate" or "stick". At some point, you may want to pick up a The Lee Oskar Harmonica Tool Kit which contains all the tools you need for simple repairs and comes with a well written pamphlet on how to use the tools and details what problems you may encounter. Visit the Repairs & Maintenance section in the Members Area at HarmonicaLessons.com for more information as well as illustrative photos. What do I do if my harmonica breaks? Many times when harmonicas seem broken, they are not. There may be a stuck reed which has a little piece of gunk lodged in it that keeps it from vibrating. You can remove the cover plates and sh out the piece of gunk with a small pin or needle. I've heard some players soak their harmonicas before they play. Should I do this? No. Soaking ruins wood harmonicas and does nothing for plastic or metal ones. This practice was done decades ago when all that was available was wood-combed harmonicas. The soaking caused the wood to swell up and make the harmonica more airtight and easier to play. These soaked harmonicas didn't last the players very long (and still don't). What is the best way to clean and sanitize an old or used harmonica before playing it? Very carefully, take the harmonica apart, or at least as much as you need to, and then take Q-tips and Hydrogen Peroxide solution (found at any drug store and most supermarkets) and clean the areas that seem to need cleaning. The Hydrogen Peroxide will sanitize, clean, disinfect, and is perfectly safe. Focus special attention on the areas where you will be putting your mouth. Be very careful not to leave any of the extra fuzz from the Q-tips, especially around the reeds (the little thin brass things with a rivet at one end). If you can nd some Q-tip type swabs that are not made of cotton but made of some material that doesn't leave lint, that would be even better. The bigger metal and plastic parts (cover plates and combs) of the harmonica can be cleaned separately by scrubbing them with an old toothbrush and warm water and soap. Rinse well. If this harmonica has a button on the side and white plastic valves over the reeds (which you would see when you took off the metal cover plates,) it is a chromatic harmonica and you need to be careful not to disturb those white plastic wind saver valves. By the way, NEVER SOAK A CHROMATIC HARMONICA OR RUN WATER THROUGH IT, this can ruin it. Also, nd a safe place to temporarily store the little screws and nuts that you will get from

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your disassembly, because they will disappear forever if they fall into your carpet. What about true sterilization of a harmonica? From one of our friends in the medical industry: "It is true that Hydrogen Peroxide will not completely sterilize a harmonica. Unfortunately, true sterilization is very difcult. In the medical ofce, we use an autoclave (combination of high temperature and high pressure,) which is very reliable, but expensive and not available to the public. In addition, autoclave conditions can damage many materialsI have my doubts that a harmonica would survive. Gas sterilization is used as an alternative for medical instruments such as arthroscopes, etc. which contain latex, plastic, or other materials which would not survive in an autoclave. This is also not available to the public. The general public has access to soap and water, rubbing alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide. Of these, alcohol is probably the best disinfectant, but again this depends on the contact time, and not all organisms can be killed with this. Protected areas (i.e. under a reed plate, etc) may harbor organisms and the alcohol may not penetrate there, limiting its effectiveness. Alcohol also needs to be rinsed off very well. Peroxide is effective for certain organisms, but as I recall, its action spectrum is not as broad as alcohol. I do not know the effects of alcohol or peroxide on the long-term viability of the harmonica itself."

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Chapter 8: One Liner Tips


Chapter Includes:
Starting Out General Tips Technique Becoming More Musical

One Liner Tips


Here is a collection of instructional tips and thoughts. They include rules of thumb, playing tips, and common sense rules of physics and nature that apply to harmonica playing (and many other activities for that matter). The rotating "Tip of the Day" on the homepage of HarmonicaLessons.com is taken from this collection of tips.

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One Liner Tips

Starting Out
Breathing tip- The further you can put the harmonica into your mouth without losing the single note, the better. A good Vertical Slot single note technique allows you to do this. "Playing music"- If you are just starting out on harmonica, don't try to "play music" right away. Spend a couple of weeks merely concentrating on the basic techniquesestablishing good habits with single notes, holding the harmonica, etc. The "music" will come soon enough. Stay relaxed- Stay as relaxed as you can when you play and practice. You will use your energy much more efciently and ultimately be able to play faster and last longer. The trouble areas for tension are usually: the shoulders, the neck, and the whole face in general, but especially the eyes and mouth area. Watch yourself in the mirror. No such thing as cheating in music- There is no such thing as cheating in music. Do the best you can to follow the rules and steps in learning the basics, but foremost, try to make things work. Bending is a great example. Do whatever it takes to make the note bendyou can clean up the technique later. Moisten your lips- If you nd your lips sticking to the harmonica when you slide or move from hole to hole, lick your lips and the mouthpiece part of the harmonica before playing. Do this whenever necessary.

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Improve even when you're not playing- Listen to as much harmonica as you can. Make a CD for the car, or transfer tunes onto your MP3 player of your favorite players and songs and listen over and over again. Drive time is ideal for this. Ultimately, try to copy the riffs, techniques, and ideas you hear on CDs with harmonica playing on them. Use "keyed" CDs without harmonica on them to practice your execution without being inuenced or distracted by the harmonica already there. Not as easy as it looks- Bottom line: The harmonica is not always as easy as most people would like to believe. Stick with it and you'll get good as you want to be. Depending upon how high you set your sights, this could be days, weeks, months, or years. Have fun and stick with it- Learn to enjoy the process: All musical instruments, sports, and activities like karate and yoga, take a ton of time and commitment to achieve abilities beyond beginner status. The people that love harmonica, love golf, love piano, will get good. This means that they don't mind all the time and practice that must go into harmonica playing and practice (in fact, they love every minute of it). Enjoy yourself. We all want to be good, but only those that persevere through the good, bad, and boring times of learning and practicing will become better players. Relax, have fun, and try to enjoy the ride. Some harmonica styles are easy, others aren't- Don't be intimidated by your favorite harmonica playing. Some recorded harmonica is difcult and complexit could be years before you can approach this kind of playing. But, much of recorded harmonica isn't. Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Billy Joel, etc., are great musicians but are not expert harmonica players (technique-wise, they are at a beginner to intermediate level). You do not have to be a technical expert on harmonica to make good music. How to gure out harmonica parts by your favorite players- The above mentioned musicians (Dylan, Neil Young, etc.) predominately blow and draw in the middle of the harmonica and "fake" a little bending (no new notes obtained -- just a slight bending effect), nothing fancy. It's not tough, you can do it too. Use the CDs: Song Keys section (in "Volume 3: Basic Blues Improv" or, in the Members Area on the website) to determine the key of harmonica that is played on a favorite song of yours. Play along to the song with the same key harmonica that was originally used. Through trial and error, you can play what they played, really. By doing this you will: become more familiar with the harmonica, be able to create your own "tabs", make your ear better for learning music, and demonstrate that not everything ever recorded is difcult to play. The more you work at it, the easier it gets. Brand and model of favorite player's harmonica- Using the exact brand and model of diatonic harmonica that your favorite player(s) uses because you would like to sound like them when you play, won't get you very far. Learning to play the way they play is what will make you sound like them. As long as you have a reasonably good quality, airtight harmonica, you are in good shape. The brand and model are unimportant.

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Making music- There is no big prize at the end of your musical journey except that you're making music, making friends while making music, and that you've accomplished something of worth that you did by yourself for yourself (and for all the lucky people that get to hear you play).

General Tips
Knock out the saliva- Get in the habit of frequently rapping the harmonica (mouthpiece side down) against your leg or palm to knock out the excess saliva and condensation from your breath. Do this before and after you put the harmonica into your mouth. If the reeds are stuck together with saliva, they can't vibrate and make sound.

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Practicing advice- To get the best results from your practice sessions, "don't over do it and don't under do it". There is no need to work on something so long that you get so fatigued that you can't play again after a reasonable amount of rest. It's easy to burn out mentally if you frustrate yourself by expecting results and perfection too soon. On the other hand, don't give up too quickly. Sometimes persistence, quality repetition, and a little sweat, are the best ways to gain improvement. Stand when you play- Whenever possible, be in a standing position if you are playing or practicing. Especially when you are working on your breathing technique, stand erect with your head up, back straight, and body relaxed so that you have a ghting chance of getting the airow to originate from your diaphragm and not your mouth. Bendable holes on a diatonic- Generally speaking, on a standard diatonic harmonica, holes 1-6 Draw and 7-10 Blow are capable of being bent (to a lower note). But, the holes 5 Draw and 7 Blow don't bend much and constant bending may cause their premature demise. Bent notes are lower- Whenever you do a basic draw or blow bend on the harmonica, it will always go down in pitch (a lower sound). When bending notes on a stringed instrument like the guitar, the note will always go up in pitch. Differing rules of physics. Lots of repetitioncreate Muscle Memory- Your body remembers whatever it repeats. This is called muscle memory. Every time you play something, right or wrong, your body is learning it. Take your time when you practice, do it slowly and correctly, and then play it as many times as you can. This creates what is referred to as a "good habit".

One Liner Tips

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Technique
Correct breathing for the harmonica means N O T sucking and N O T blowingSucking and blowing occurs with your lips and at the front of the mouth. Put the harmonica further into your mouth to avoid this problem. See the section on Vertical Slot and Breathing in Chapter 3. Stomach moves rst- The rst thing, physically, that should happen when you play a note on the harmonica, is that your stomach (diaphragm) moves. This movement creates the airow that ultimately makes the sound come out the harmonica. For most, this will develop naturally over years of playing. Good hand effects: large, airtight cup- The secret to great hand effects is understanding what makes them, and when to use them. The object is to trap the sound into the largest and most airtight cup you can make with your hands. The perceived change of sound is actually a change of volume. Opening and closing your bottom hand rapidly will create what is called "hand tremelo". You can apply this effect to long held notes which tend to fall at the ends of phrases. Play loud for better hand effects- When you are learning and practicing the hand tremolo technique, always play as loud as you can so that you really hear the difference between the "hands closed sound" and the "hands open sound". Move the harmonica and not your head- Always try to move the harmonica and not your head when you play. This will allow you to play faster and more efciently in the future. Watch yourself in the mirror to REALLY check. Intermediate/Advanced single note tip- Avoid "over-single noting". Always try to use 100% of the hole, that is, the whole hole, when making single notes to gain better volume, tone, and so that you use less effort when you play. (This tip is directed more at the intermediate and advanced players, the people struggling with attaining clean single notes should focus on that rst.) Breathing and tone tip- To get better tone, increased volume, and more accurate intonation when you play, focus your airow through the hole of the harmonica and not just into it. *NOTE: Angled airow is why so many beginners cannot get a good sound out of 2 and 3 Draw (and 7, 8, and 9 Draw also.) If there is any angle to your airow, then you will be unintentionally bending every note you play and some of the high notes may not come out at all.

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Bending: broken down to two aspects- Bending is only two things: 1. Breathing & 2. Shifting. Breathing is what makes the sound come out and shifting is what actually makes the note change pitch. Shifting is accomplished by changing the angle of the airow. *NOTE- This angle of airow is not the same on every bendable note. Each reed, based on how far it is capable of bending, determines where its own "sweet spot" is. It may seem like it takes different techniques on different holes to make them bend, but the only thing that should change technically is the "sweet spot" from the different angles of airow.

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One Liner Tips

Becoming More Musical


What makes a great player?- All great players have two things in common: good tone (sound) and good timing (rhythm). Their note selections and riffs may vary greatly, but they make whatever it is they play sound good. Few short riffs = Long Riff- To be able to play longer riffs and phrases, you need to string together some shorter riffs. Be sure to commit your own riffs/melodies to memory. Commit your songs to memory- One of the rst things you should do after playing a new song or riff a few times, is to close the book, turn over the sheet, or look away from the monitor and then try to play it from memory. The sooner you do this, the sooner you will commit it to memory and put some "feel" into the song or riff. You may not get it perfect the rst time when you're not looking, but that's OK. You can always take another peek and correct your mistakes. This is also a simple, easy way to do some ear training, if you don't give in too soon and look at the notes. Try to sound it out, it gets easier as your ear gets better. Hum, sing, or whistle- Get the music in your head rst. If you can't hum, sing, or whistle a riff or song, you don't have it in your head, and therefore, don't really know it yet.

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To create a more melodic solo- Play any simple riff two or more times, and use longer pauses between riffs. The repetition keeps your playing less complex and more memorable. The longer pauses (or rests) gives your listeners time to take in and digest what you just played. Use the "2 Draw4 Draw" Rule- Stick with holes 2 and 4 Draw for all basic 2nd Position style jamming, especially blues. Use bending, hand effects, or any other techniques you know to create your own riffs. If you have problems playing hole 2 Draw, substitute 3 Blow until you are more successful with the hole 2 Draw. Good timing means good playing- All harmonica players and musicians in general should continue to work on their timing, regardless of their level. The best way to do this is to practice quarter (1/4) notes (typically, one foot tap) and whole notes (4 foot taps) to an amplied drum machine or to a drum sequence played on your computer through speakers. With a drum machine, you can hear and FEEL the beat. A metronome is a second choice, but if you use one, make sure you can really hear it at your best harmonica playing volume. Avoid using the blinking lights that come with some metronomes because it doesn't simulate a real musical situation. Straight vs. Swung 1/8 notes- The basic beat of most music, 1/4 notes, can be divided into two types of 1/8 notes. Straight 1/8 notes are 1/4 notes exactly divided in half and give you a "rock" feel. Shufed or swung 1/8 notes are actually the rst and third notes of a triplet, (a 1/4 note broken into three even beats). The shufe is the most common groove or feel in blues and early rock and roll. Less is more (better)- It's always better to learn 3 songs (or riffs) well, then it is to learn 10 songs not as well. Put another way, it's better to sound good on only 3 songs then to sound mediocre on 10. Good music is simply what you like- Don't confuse good technique with "good music". Good music has very little to do with the perfection of technique. Good music is simply what you like. The reason for perfecting your techniques and learning music theory is so that you can make "good music" in different ways. It's nice to have choices (fast or slow, clean or sloppy, full or thin tone, bluesy or country, etc.). Jamming: when to play and how much- Fills vs. Leads vs. Backup- make sure that when you are playing with people, at any given moment, you know your role. Should you be playing a solo, or playing lls between vocal lines, or playing backup, or nothing? Avoid over playing and under playing. If you don't know whether you're doing one or the other, ask the people you're playing with. Or better yet, record yourself, let it sit a day or two and then you be the judge.

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Sitting in with bandsDon't play all the time!- If you jam with bands or small groups in clubs, don't monopolize the audio space. If you play constantly, especially when someone is singing, it is unlikely you will be invited back. As much as the audience wants to hear you play, they mean "along with the band" and not instead of it. Play lls (between vocal lines) and wait for your solo spot. Zen Saying- "Don't follow in the footsteps of the masters, walk where they walked." Listen, learn, and move on. The great players became great somehow, so can you. All you need is a good attitude and lots of playing and practicing. They had their sound and style and it's okay for you to sound like "you".

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One Liner Tips

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Chapter 9: Free Audio/Video Files


Chapter Includes:
How to receive your: "Book Buyer Mini-Membership" at HarmonicaLessons.com.

Audio/Video Files
Throughout this book, we make reference to audio or video les that can be accessed at our website for further instruction and understanding. Sound le examples for techniques, songs, blues riffs, and more are yours by following the simple steps below and letting us know that you've purchased this book. For a 3-month period, you'll get the "Book Buyer Mini-Membership", which includes: *Sound le examples *Jam-To Blues MIDI le *135 Terms & Denitions *Discussion Forums *Games *Harmonica History

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Audio/Video Files

Follow these Steps:


Visit our "Contact Us" page- Go to: http://www.harmonicalessons.com/contact.html. (If you are currently connected to the Internet, click on the above link to go to our Contact Page.) Fill in "Name" eld- Be sure to use the name of the book purchaser. "Subject" eld- Select: (Book_Buyer_Requesting_Login_) in the "Subject" eld.
The HarmonicaLessons.com Contact page.

"Message" eld- In the "Message" area, please include your Date of Purchase, Receipt Number, and the title of the book you bought (i.e. Vol. 1: "Beginners Start Here").

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Click the "Submit" button- Within 2 business days, you will be sent an email with the information you need to log in and access the sound les for your book. Upgrade Your Free Mini-Membership to a Full Membership- Gaining access to your Book Buyer Mini-Membership, will also allow you to become a Full Member at HarmonicaLessons.com for the discounted member renewal rate. Don't forget, while you're at HarmonicaLessons.com, be sure to take advantage of our free Discussion Forums for your playing questions and problems.

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Final Words
You can have fun playing harmonica at any level from raw beginner to professional. If you want to keep improving, all you need to do is to keep playingit's just that simple. If you've made it through this book, then you can ofcially title yourself an advanced-beginner and you are most likely ready for more instruction, songs, theory, riffs, information, etc. Don't worry that you haven't yet "mastered" the 4 Basic Playing Techniques, they will improve as you continue to play and practice. Where to go from here? You can either continue with our book series, (volumes and titles are listed on the back cover) or you can join up at HarmonicaLessons.com. Our Members Area contains all the information contained within our book series, plus additional content (see back cover for website features). If you enjoy jamming, keep playing along with MIDI les and CDs. Also, now is a great time to begin checking with you friends and family to see if you can hunt up a guitar or piano player to jam with. You DO NOT need to be an expert to play along with others. The only requirement is that both parties are interested in jamming. Consider yourself lucky if you can nd better musicians to jam with. Playing with better musicians will help raise your musical level. Whatever you do or whichever direction you go with the harmonica, the secret to improvement is to keep playing. And, if you remember to have fun when you play and practice, you should have a lifetime of musical fulllment ahead of youregardless of what level of player you become. Play on, Dave Gage

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About Dave Gage


Dave Gage is the founder, author, programmer, and photographer of HarmonicaLessons.com, the largest and most visited harmonica website in the world. He constructed the site in 1999 as an off-shoot of the ever growing popularity of the instruction and information for learning harmonica found at DaveGage.com. Dave is also the founder of HarmonicaStore.com, Harmonica4Kids.com and other harmonica websites. He currently teaches in Santa Monica, CA, where he has been a part time/full time instructor since 1980. Through mostly one-on-one private lessons, and as a class and seminar teacher, he has logged over 10,000 hours of harmonica instruction. Dave has been playing diatonic and chromatic harmonica for over 30 years. Before forming the Dave Gage Band (now called GAGE), he played with numerous cover and original bands doing everything from folk and bluegrass to 60"s and 70's rock, funk and Top 40, hard rock and heavy metal and all of these primarily playing harmonica. His unique use of the "tongue-switching" technique is the closest you will nd, to duplicating on harmonica, the guitar playing style of "tapping" ( la Eddie Van Halen). He has 2 albums available through www.davegage.com: "Well You Can't, Now Can You" (released in 1990) and "Love You Just The Same" (released in 2000) which both feature his harmonica playing, singing, song writing, and production. Throughout the years, he has played harmonica on, as well as produced, the music for various radio and TV commercials. He has played or recorded with artists such as Andy Summer (Police), Mark Mothersbaugh and Bob Casale (Devo), Rick Springeld, Bill Ward (Black Sabbath), Jack Bruce, Lee Oskar, and others. He was also one of the songwriters and lyricists for the Disney Channel show "Adventures in Wonderland".

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[Back Cover]

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