Never Played an Instrument, Can't Read Music -- Help Me Learn the Harmonica
January 4, 2005 3:18 PM   Subscribe

HarmonicaFilter: I was just given a harmonica as a gift, but I can't even read music, and have never played an instrument before. Instead of selling the harmonica on eBay, I would really like to learn to play the instrument. Any tips, helpful hints or resources (free is best) are much appreciated.
posted by LouMac to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There are a couple of previous threads on harmonicas that may provide some useful insight.
posted by Danelope at 3:48 PM on January 4, 2005

What style do you want to play? Blues, country, rock? What kind of harmonica is it, diatonic (it will say what tone it's in, like "C", for example) or chromatic (it won'r be in any particular tone and will have a funky knob-like thing sticking out of it)?
I learned to play blues harmonica with a skinny book from Hohner called something like "Blues Harmonica", very clear and easy to follow, and by jamming to some muddy waters CDs.
For now, focus on being able to play single notes consistently.
posted by signal at 3:52 PM on January 4, 2005

I'm guessing it's diatonic, probably in the key of C. This means that you won't be able to play along with songs that aren't in the right key.

This also means that you can't accidentally play anything out of key, so it's a very easy instrument to play in that regard. Work on trying to play single notes by pursing your lips just right (this is quite a lip work-out for a while, and will leave you with a numb mouth), and you'll figure it out.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 4:52 PM on January 4, 2005

Go to any music store and there are very cheap books on learning the harmonica, some with tapes or CDs and written in easy to follow harmonica tab (numbers for holes, arrows for blow or suck).
posted by planetkyoto at 5:09 PM on January 4, 2005

Response by poster: Yup, it's a diatonic, and playing single notes isn't a problem. But transitioning between them is. As far as what I want to play, certainly blues and rock.
posted by LouMac at 5:12 PM on January 4, 2005

I frequently get catalogs in the mail from the local community colleges, offering crazy one-off night or weekend classes for things like Chinese brush painting, and one of the things I often think about actually doing is the "learn to play blues harmonica" course.

Check your local listings.
posted by padraigin at 9:14 PM on January 4, 2005

Harmonica and Blues Harp Page by Glenn Weiser

Where you can learn to play Little Walter's Juke

which is to harmonica as Coleman Hawkins' Body And Soul is to saxophone

There's a RealAudio clip of it here on the right.

More links at Harmonica Tabs & Lessons
posted by y2karl at 10:48 PM on January 4, 2005

How to play the harmonica at Everything2
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:10 AM on January 5, 2005

My brother learned to play ten years ago just from the Klutz book and tape, and his harmonica skills are smoking.
posted by Miko at 8:15 AM on January 5, 2005

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