How to Play the Harmonica
It is a classic image. The crowd thickens around a stooped man in well worn overalls merrily playing the blues harmonica, the notes seeming to fly from the hands cupped around his mouth to the poised ears of the inspired listeners. Playing the harmonica has always seemed to carry a unique and definite charm.

How hard could it be? One way to define playing the harmonica is that it is supremely easy to learn to play, but on the other hand, extremely difficult to master.

Yet, if you’re sure that playing the harmonica is the hobby for you, then take some time to look into your options and sign up for lessons or hire a private tutor. Everyone wants their time spent to be worthwhile; and with playing the harmonica it is no different.

But this choosing between a private tutor and a music school may not be easy. Obvious benefits of a tutor are the flexibilities of the schedule, time saved in transport, and more. Still, if you are set on playing the harmonica, whether you learn from private lessons through a tutor or group lessons in a school, you will get out of it what you put in.

Since the harmonica can lend itself to many different musical styles, if choosing a teacher, be sure and communicate your musical preferences and let him know what you are after. (I say “he” because although I’m sure there must be some female harmonica teachers out there, very few exist at the time of this article. Hopefully in the future more women will be inspired to play this instrument.) For instance, playing blues and modern rock styles can be very different from folk and country. Folk in particular tends to be based more on chordal stylings, and blues tends to be more single note scale oriented.

But this choosing between a private tutor and a music school may not be easy. Obvious benefits of a tutor are the flexibilities of the schedule, time saved in transport, and more. Still, if you are set on playing the harmonica, whether you learn from private lessons through a tutor or group lessons in a school, you will get out of it what you put in.

There is also the online option for learning. Many websites offer good accredited schools with a music course that teaches playing the harmonica. Other websites recommend books on the subject for purchase. Most online programs will include traditional harmonica lessons, harmonica notes, harmonica tablature, harmonica player interviews, notes and keys, free harmonica music, and more.

The instrument you choose for playing the harmonica has an effect. There is not a one-size-fits-all, as harmonicas come in different keys. Some harmonica players would prefer a lower key and others a higher one, for example. The brand makes a difference to the sound, as does the size. Traditionally, the Hohner is the most famous brand of harmonica (the instrument is also known as the “mouth organ”), and is generally accepted worldwide as the standard.

Photo Credit:Alan Levine

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