Music Theory · Playing Tips · Study Tools

Theory Quick Reference for Blues Harmonica Players

I’ve put together a collection of scale, chord and position references for blues players. It contains all the commonly used (and some uncommonly used) scales. There’s a lot more that could be included but I think this is a good start, and I can always update it. Theory Quick Reference for the Blues Harmonica Player… Continue reading Theory Quick Reference for Blues Harmonica Players

Harmonica Music · Playing Tips · Study Tools · Videos

Christmas Horns

A great – and seasonally appropriate – tune here from Lowell Fulson. A lovely loping blues.

There’s no harmonica on it, but there’s a great horn section, and those parts can be played on your harp. In fact, approaching accompaniment as if you were a horn player is a great way to play, especially if you find yourself relying on a few cliche blues licks.

Listen to those nice swells that follow the chord changes. Try playing an octave on the 3+ 6+ for the I chord and 5+ 2+ for the IV. Start as quiet as you can and slowly build in volume as Lowell sings. This is great breath control practice by the way.

The lick that comes in on the V chord is 1+ 1′ 1 repeated (or 4+ 4′ 4 if you want to do it an octave higher).

It’s a fun way to play, and sounds especially good amplified through a nice warm tube amp.

Here’s the song pitch shifted so you can play along on a C harmonica. Enjoy!

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Expectation Management!

“Man, this is harder than I thought,” is the inevitable reaction from new players after a few weeks. Yup, I nod. But it’s cool, and look what you’ve already achieved.

Harmonica is challenging. All musical instruments are. And intrinsically understanding and feeling the music in your bones then channeling it through your instrument is more challenging still.

It’s trite but true: It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.

You’ll never be the player you want to be. You’ll never know it all. But every time you pick up your harp you are developing, learning, living in a moment when you are making something from nothing.

And no matter how far on the journey you are, you’re making music. To my mind that’s a pretty awesome thing to be doing.

I’ve watched this video dozens of times over the years and it always entertains and inspires. 

Playing Tips · Study Tools

Frequent Practicing trumps Long Practicing

This is one of the most valuable tips (along with practicing slowly) you may ever get, so please pay attention. I speak from experience, and I don’t want you to suffer the same setbacks I’ve had. Here’s the tip: If you do frequent, short practices you will improve faster than if you do infrequent, long… Continue reading Frequent Practicing trumps Long Practicing