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Where do I start with learning the Harmonica?

Sometimes it feels that every busker on a city street corner is playing the harmonica. It is indeed a common site and a common sound. It has actually been named the most popular instrument on the planet with over 10 million harmonicas being sold each year. Yet just because the harmonica is a common and indeed rather cost effective instrument, does not mean that it is anyway inferior to other instruments. Indeed it was one of the key sounds in ”Love Me Do” by the Beatles and of course the very famous “Piano Man” by Billy Joel. So if you are thinking about giving it a try, why not?

There is a general consensus that the harmonica is an easy instrument to play, but this can be misleading. To play the harmonica well requires just as much dedication and practice as any other instrument, however in contrast to other instruments, there is a fast progression for early learners, who may find they are able to play a tune within a short space of time. Consequently the harmonica lends itself to online teaching and there are many resources to help you along the way. Online sites will charge approximately 90 dollars for a 12 month course which covers everything from beginners tips to advanced techniques. Much more cost effective than using a private teacher. The lessons are given by a mix of printed texts, diagrams videos and audio clips.

Buying a harmonica is not as easy as you might assume. There are many different types available and you need to ensure you are happy with your purchase. The cheapest of harmonicas are usually intended for children, perhaps also considered to be toy harmonicas. If you are taking your learning seriously it is advisable to opt for a Hohner Marine Band harmonica. This type of harmonica is a classic choice and remains popular for many professional players.

To help you along your way, we have put together our top five tips to make sure you get the most out of your harmonica.

  1. Make sure your harmonica stays clean, failure to do so can result in the sound being interfered with.
  2. Beginners of the harmonica will tend to salivate intro the instrument, make sure this is removed after practice.
  3. Maintain good fitness levels as the harmonica requires good breath control.
  4. Don’t limit yourself when it comes to style, try rock and roll, blue grass, country and folk.
  5. Never share your harmonica, it is just common sense.

The great thing about the harmonica is the ability to transport it easily and therefore enjoy an impromptu practice session. With the harmonica, progress is seen very quickly but this can be dangerous. Continual practice can cause pain in the lips and consequently put you off playing. It is advisable to break up practicing into small sessions of about 15 minutes, ideally twice a day.

And finally, playing harmonica pumps oxygen into the lungs and blood, which has an invigorating effect on the brain. It’s a win, win, situation.

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