Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > Newbie
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Mustang
1 post
Apr 08, 2019
12:55 PM
Hello. I started playing just on a whim back in the beginning on January. So roughly 3 months. I started on a Lee Oskar C and liked it a lot but then I tried cleaning it and slightly tuning it and I slightly broke it lol. I then ordered new reed plates and it’s back to fine now but in the interim I ordered a 3 kit of Suzuki Manjis A, C, G. As much as I thought I liked the Lee Oskar i find the Suzuki’s to be much easier to play and much louder and way more easy to bend.
Speaking of bending, I’m not the best but I can bend the 4 hole easily. I can get like 2 or 3 different bends on a 3 hole but can’t seem to take it to that last low bend I hear on YouTube and my worst bend comes on the 2 hole. It bends a bit but seems like it take a lot more air than it’s supposed to or maybe that normal. I can play a lot of songs good but not great. I can make the blues sound good but again not great. I try learning Riffs to make it sound more uniform as opposed to random which I’m all over the place. I like jamming to guitar back tracks in which ever key I have available and again it all sound pretty good but just not great. I need to get to the next level I guess so I thought I’d try a forum for advice or maybe just to feel I’m not doing all that bad for just 3 months.
I do find myself not being able to play a song unless I can sing along to it in my head or what happens is I start out playing 1 song and find myself playing a different similar sounding song by the end lol. Is that normal?
Anyway I look forward to reading, listening and asking a lot of questions because I am now addicted to playing and my chapped lips are proof.
Any newbie advice to progress is welcomed and TY in advance.
John
The Iceman
3815 posts
Apr 08, 2019
1:40 PM
Take it 1 step at a time. Don't try to learn everything all at once.

Best to find 1 face to face teacher with good credentials and stick with him, his philosophy and his approach until you've gotten everything you can from him.

DO NOT mix and match different teachers/videos in your haste to learn.
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The Iceman
jbone
2883 posts
Apr 08, 2019
2:36 PM
Sounds like you're about where you should be. Starting out I found a couple of bends and little runs that I put in everything until even I got sick of them! As time goes on though you learn new stuff.
I didn't take instruction and never took music class so I was a long time hardhead learner. Monkey hear, monkey do- badly.
I think finding a course of study- there are plenty of good ones- and going to the end, will get you much farther much faster than the 20 years I spent stumbling around. My first 20 were okay sometimes but it's been the last 26 or so that have been the gold mine for me. Not fiscally so much but in terms of knowing how to make "that sound" or play the way "that guy" did.

If you are truly addicted you will be keeping a harp in your face a lot which is necessary and turns out to be a great time. I like Manji a lot and use them a lot for acoustic outdoors where we don't use amps and I want to be heard. Marine Band Deluxe are a nice harp too but mainly I like to use them with an amp and not play as hard.

Sure hope you hang around and go crazy with us!
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Joe_L
2867 posts
Apr 08, 2019
3:16 PM
John - My suggestion is to ditch the backing tracks. Listen to and play along with records. Preferably the masters. (I like Jimmy Reed for this.) Start off with slow tunes and gradually work your way to faster tunes.. Try to decipher what the player is doing. Try to get the sound down exactly as you hear it on the record. Each player has subtle tonal variations. Learn those as well, if you can. The most important thing is to have fun,, that way it doens't seem like work.

If your goal is to play blues on harmonica, you're going to have to learn at least two things. First, you'll need to learn how to operate the instrument. Second (and the hardest for some people), learn the music. Learn what fits where and what doesn't fit. Do more of what fits and less of what doesn't. That's going to require you to listen to a lot of players. Think of it as learning a new language. Eventually, your own sound will develop.

Last Edited by Joe_L on Apr 08, 2019 3:19 PM
Mustang
2 posts
Apr 08, 2019
4:44 PM
Well I appreciate the advice from everyone. I definitely listen and play along as much as possible with many many artist and songs both old and new and in between. I play a lot to the Eagles songs and similar ones that are medium speed and hittable notes. Me times I hit every note exactly like the song where as you can’t tell a song is even playing over the speakers. Love both the blues and playing songs equally.
I think what I’m learning that the blues are not just a bunch of cross harp draws and bends. I’m realizing that will get you so far but that there are organized riffs and runs that serve a purpose and are mandatory to succeed at the blues. I’m probably have the worst time with Chugging and speed riffs etc. and I know it takes time but mentally, I’m just not coordinating my breathing with the speed of the blows and draws without either losing concentration or eating slightly out of breath. I hear so many words pronounced in different ways to try and help the speed chugs going between single holes and chords and I get them or think I do for a bit but then realize it’s not that easy so I’m getting a bit frustrated I guess. Any blues hints or advice and to picking up my speed? Ty
jbone
2884 posts
Apr 08, 2019
6:37 PM
I started with a Doobie Bros record that had the song Long Train Running. Then Lynrd Skynrd and some ZZ Top. Bob Dylan, Neil Young. I could not figure out what my real heroes were doing, guys like James Cotton and Little Walter and Sonny Terry, but I went forward any way I could.


Something you may or may not know, is that there are different ways to play harmonica in a given key. Jimmy Reed used straight or first position a lot where he played a harp in the same key as the song. He was the first black artist who crossed over into country music. I recall his songs on jukeboxes when I was very young. Guys like James Cotton, Howlin' Wolf, and Sonnyboy Williamson, played a lot in the sort of traditional cross harp style, second position. When West Coast Swing blues became a thing, George "Harmonica" Smith broke into slant or third position harp and that's a more jazz-y style.


This may be too much information early on. But if you want to listen to different artists and work on their stuff you do need to know what harp, song key, and what position they played in. Maybe be discriminating and keep it simple at first.


The mechanics of playing encompass you, from the diaphragm through the lungs, throat, tongue, jaw, teeth, and lips. Then there is cupping with hands. This stuff all take knowledge, practice, and stubbornness. Later, a lot of players explore the whole mic, amp, and maybe effects box thing as well. All of this can wait though. Acoustic technique is first and foremost in my book and many agree to that.


You are in for a cool ride man. Stick with it, get help, here and YouTube, and personal instruction if you can. It will pay off.

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Mustang
3 posts
Apr 08, 2019
7:19 PM
Im loving the harp. I can’t get enough. I play every chance I get. I do wanna someday jam in local bands or open mic nights but not just yet. I feel I need to understand why and how and when to puts blues runs and riffs together to sound like the guys on YouTube or on the radio or pandora. All the historical players and modern alike. I practice Riff after Riff and get them pretty well but tend to forget them a week later so I just feel I keep hitting a dead end.
I am learning that I can hit more clear notes when I breath from my diaphragm vs. my mouth or throat. Even the bends when more air and slightly harder air is pronounced thru the holes except not always on the 7,8,9,10. I do have trouble on mainly the C harp in that upper range mostly draw notes. They squeal or don’t make any sound at all but then all of a sudden they work but I don’t know why or what I did. Frustrating. I appreciate any help with all my concerns and look forward to learning from the experience of others. Ty
Blind Melon
110 posts
Apr 09, 2019
9:13 AM
Well, it sounds like you are doing good, but not great. :)

I would like to add getting a face-to-face teacher as Iceman suggests.

I would also recommend Jerry Portnoy's Harmonica Masterclass 3 CD set. This really helped me to learn "how" to play the harmonica, including tongue blocking and bends.

Then I would check out Adam Gussow's beginners lessons. This will get you started with playing actual blues.

Just my two cents, for what it's worth.

Last Edited by Blind Melon on Apr 09, 2019 9:16 AM
snowman
432 posts
Apr 09, 2019
9:16 AM
I live in a small rural mountain community--No harp teachers here-other wise I'd take lessons

Don't burn out—Keep doing what yr doing---Both yr mistakes and good playing are helping yr “MUSCLE MEMORY” whether u realize that or not

If yr learning Eagles, dylan, Neil etc---its probably following the “melody” of the song---
Its probably in 1st pos

I'd break my practice time into parts;
1] Learning and practicing melodies either 1st or second pos----
2] Keep doing improv over jam tracks
3] Practice particular songs and licks in the song
[ sometimes with the song itself ]
[ sometimes with jam tracks]
U don't need to know this yet, but you'll find
the lick only works in certain parts of the
song
thats bcuz its played over a certain chord----Im referring mostly to blues

Later on: If time allows; take a little time to learn difference between a shuffle and straight 4/4

WHY One lick or pattern sounds great in a shuffle ---but must be played with different feel in straight 4/4 time ----or it won't work at all in 4/4

THIS SHOULD PROBABLY BE FIRST

1] GET A SLOWDOWNER FOR YR COMPUTER
IE; “TRANSCRIBE” -”THE GREAT SLOWDOWNER” …... TONS OF THEM---THERE CHEAP
AND IF U GET IT NOW U CAN LEARN THE PROGRAM AS
YR GOING

THEIR VERY SIMPLE ----

say u want to learn a certain James cotton lick----
1]put in yr slowdowner and u can
2] find out “what key” song is in
3] figure out the “tempo” and find or make an
appropriate jam track for it
4] select “only the lick” and play it over n
over
5] Can play it any speed----slow at first, then at
tempo

later on:
Check out “Audacity” for recording stuff on line and it will record “WHAT U HEAR” on yr computer--
It will record the slowed down version form “transcribe” or record from u tube
PS not for re-sale just for practice

A LOT OF BLUES HARP PLAYERS ARE STUBBORN AND SAY
' I just do my own thing', why learn another guys licks
' Now after playin for 40+ plus years I get to hear these guys, years later and frankly “they stink” they sound the same as they did 25 years ago

Ask any great harp player who influenced them or who did they learn from –inevitably they have an artist or several, that they practiced to or “TRIED TO COPY'

What happens is; u learn their lick, pattern or song, their way as close to note for note as possible

U discover ; “Hey if Im so good “ why am I having a hard time learning these licks or songs---it opens up new avenues of the harp---it forces u to play a DIFFERENT PATTERN---

In other words u do exactly what the greats b4 u did---THEY STUDIED THE GREAT PLAYERS OF THEiR TIME OR PAST

Eventually after u learn a great players song or lick as close to “note for note” as possible-

U hear their version in yr head and can play it. Now u start adding and taking away and incorporating the way u hear it or want to play it. BUT KEY ---U can play it their way and now yr way

I talk too much lol
but I do realize;
"the value of my un-importance"
Mustang
4 posts
Apr 09, 2019
11:13 AM
Again ty for al the input. It really varies from player to player I see. I have a friend who is very good on the harp and plays locally with a few bands and open mic nights and I asked him for some pointers and he offered to show me everything he knows so other than YouTube, and a lot of playing back tracks and or playing along to songs I’m hoping playing with an experienced player will click my mind into the next phase of this instrument. I’m really quite proud of what I can already do in just 3 months but feel I need instruction from forums like this and actual physical lessons. I don’t know of anyone else who teaches around me so I’m gunna see how this works out and I’ll keep in touch on here too. Thanks all again. John
Raven
152 posts
Apr 09, 2019
12:28 PM
John, Since everyone else seemed to overlook one of our basic formalities, let me be the first to say, "Welcome to the forum!" You've hit upon the best forum out there and the most active. Members range from rank beginners just starting out to well accomplished players like Jason Ricci (Mooncat) or Brendan Power (BeePee). You'll find vast amounts of valuable information on everything from techniques to customizing your equipment. You'll also find that there are a lot of different opinions about which are the best harps,the best sounding mics, elements, amps, speakers, how to change out tubes in an amp for different sound, lip pursing versus tongue blocking...and the list goes on and on. The main thing, and most will agree, is to have fun. Like Snowman said, don't burn out. Keep practicing and experimenting, select a teacher appropriate to where you want to take your art. The most common problem with newer players is breath control. The tendency is to blow too hard thinking you'll sound louder and then wondering why the notes won't come out, why your reeds are fatiguing or going flat. I think you've already hit upon that concept in your second post. Check out the beginners guide in the 4th blue box on the left...you might find that helpful as well. There's a whole new world opening up for the harp nowadays...alternate tunings, magnetic and electronic processing. Keep an open mind, but above all...Have fun!
Mustang
5 posts
Apr 11, 2019
12:06 PM
Thank you Raven and everyone. I am very excited about this instrument because I feel I can do it and I really am getting much better at single notes, bending and breathing lately without thinking or over thinking. It for some reason just seems to click easier now than even a few weeks ago. My friend offered to teach me even though he isn’t a formal teacher but is amazing to hear play live. So I look forward to learning from a live person to person lesson vs. YouTube which has also helped me. I am going to concentrate on learning licks a couple at a time until I can remember them naturally instead of playing them 10 times and then never again. The blues intrigues me as does all types of playing and the more I understand How to put these licks together in conjunction with bends, warbles, and chugging the more excited I get. I am defiantly having an issue with fast chugging type playing even when I try the word pronunciations that they try to teach you on video. I just can’t seem to get the speed down or I run out of breath occasionally so that’s a challenge to me. But I will continue to ask for help from everyone here and appreciate the help and knowledge. Ty again and we will talk soon I’m sure. Ty. John
jbone
2886 posts
Apr 11, 2019
3:14 PM
John, You are doing everything right I think. spending time working with the harp, every chance you get, and add to that YT and some personal face to face, you will make good progress.

Who inspired you to take up harp? They may be a good one to try and emulate. For starters. There are so many great players who have informed my playing I can't name them all.

Try and stay relaxed and focused and above all don't draw so hard you wreck reeds! It'll come together.

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Mustang
6 posts
Apr 12, 2019
11:00 AM
Hi jbone. I’m not sure exactly why I got the curiosity to start playing. I’ve always loved the sound of the harp. I always loved music but never stuck to any instrument long enough to really become good. I took guitar lesson, and quit after 3 months. I took piano lessons and again quit after so long but both I can play some songs by ear and pretty well. I also find myself playing Songs on the harp mainly by ear. I watch the tabs video of a song, I repeat several time what they do but then I find I can nail the notes just as good or very close by playing by ear and I tend remember songs that way vs. memorizing holes and tabs and blows or draws so little by little I can play over 60 songs by memory just by picking u. The key I need but not super fancy like some videos. More like just straight boring but yet pretty good. I don’t have very much bravado except for hand or hand wawa. I try to do throat bravado but I tend to mess up the note while trying to do both. But bravado definitely enhances a song as does hand motions and bending. But I try.
As far as bending goes I try to do a lot of different techniques to bend 1/4 and 1/2 notes which sound good but not really like some guys on video. I do feel I get over powerful when I’m in the groove and make some really deeeeeep draws which I think I broke my harp lol but it seems fine so far afterwards. I really don’t wanna lose the work I’ve put into this in 3 months and quit like the other instruments and I feel I’m getting it more than I did the others so we will see where I go. I need to realize that 3 months is not very long considering most great players are 20+ years. I do love it in every key although so far I only have the manjis in C, A, G so far. Not sure what to try next or if I should purchase another entire full set for $360 with 7 and a choice of a low. I see a lot of Bb and F and D. Any suggestions or just stick with 3 for now?
Ty
John
jbone
2887 posts
Apr 12, 2019
5:06 PM
You're talking about vibrato are you not? It's a good effect and eventually you may get the drift of doing it with your throat.

You have some natural ability I think. With that in mind You may not feel like doing some of the stuff that's typically taught, but I would suggest that you learn scales and some of the other basic things a harp can do. One issue I've always had, because I never took any music courses and never sat down with a harp course or teacher, is I have no way to describe what I'm doing on a harp. And no measurable way to repeat some things like getting all the bends on a given harp without squealing out or killing a reed. I feel like it's way too late for me having messed with these things for 47 years now and played with bands for about 25. I have a measure of success doing things the wrong way essentially. If I'd taken piano or music theory along the way I would have had much better musical "language" and maybe could have taught some kids how to play. That's something I failed at a few years ago.

Regarding more keys of harp, early on I was trying to jam with friends and so I added keys as suggested. Bb, and D, and if you can get a low F it's a really cool sound as well. I find regular F to be pretty high for my taste but it does do pretty well in acoustic settings. My kit these days has most keys excluding F# and E and B, which I never had use for.


You seem taken with the blues thing which is in cross or 2nd position a lot but also guys like Jimmy Reed and some others who played a lot of country/blues in 1st or straight harp, and 3rd or slant position is a great swingy jazzy position. There are 12 positions in all, but I have stuck to these 3 mostly.

For now You may want to stay in one position until you get more basic stuff down.

One hugely important thing to be aware of is, not to draw too damn hard even when it sounds great! Because you will def wreck reeds that way. A set of reed plates for Manji are about $35 each. You can blow some dough needlessly by putting too much air through a harp. You've seen how small a reed is and how small the slot it works within, it will take just so much before they fatigue and crack.


Let me say one more thing here. I was obsessed with playing harp from early on. I would keep one in my face at every opportunity, around the house, walking in the woods, whatever. It took me DECADES to get halfway decent and begin to actually play sort of like my heroes. There were times it began to seem like a JOB just to keep trying to improve. Many times I'd just have to put the damn things down for awhile. BUT. The cool thing was, even if I was not doing the treadmill thing, my mind was working and sorting. When I would take a break and come back a week or so later, new stuff was all of a sudden, there. So work hard, learn hard. But you can take a break and let your mind catch up.

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Mustang
7 posts
Apr 14, 2019
6:29 AM
Hi jbone. Yes, vibrato lol. It can go with bravado after a few beers I guess.
I am trying to pick up on music notes, beats, bars etc as well but I find I’m not patient enough sometimes but I still do try to do atleast 12 bars tapping my foot etc. like I said after I hear a song, I seem to play it well after playing it 6 or 7 times, I write it down, and I play it every day afterwards even if once. Some songs like Dylan on Pandora I can nail without missing a note. Except the high notes. I’m either playing them too hard or too soft but they squeal on me and sound like crap on draws mainly so I need to work on those especially on C. A and G are much better although they are a manji on both and everything seems easier to me than on my Lee Oskar. I seem to have to work harder on the Oskar. I also notice the 1st hole on the Manjis are a tad smaller than the remaining holes. Due to air consumption I assume? I just noticed that.
I do wish I can read music better because tabs don’t tell you any beats or notes so ya have to listen a few times and memorize which I’m ok with I guess but hopefully I’ll pick up some things while learning since most of the better teachers use bars and counts etc so I do listen.
If ya have or anyone has any tips on easily playing 8,9,10 on any harp but mainly the C, let me lol. It’s frustrating me.
Also chugging and speed licks. I know pronunciation is key as you play and everyone has a certain phrase to try but any other tips to speed my playing up properly would be appreciated.
Ty
John
jbone
2888 posts
Apr 14, 2019
10:46 AM
Of course first is practice. And different harps respond differently even on the same note, say 1 draw or 10 blow.
Breath control, which will come with time and practice. This is where an Adam Gussow, Richard Sleigh, Joe Filisko, or any of a dozen other true pros can guide you better than I can. Focus of air and not force is crucial to getting those smaller reeds to sound right. I use some top end notes ad\\nd mostly on straight or first position play ala Jimmy Reed and some Dylan stuff etc.


I'm sort of an idiot savant in a way. I really can't tell you how I do "that", I can demonstrate and try to describe where my tongue is etc., but as I mentioned earlier I am not fluent in the actual accepted language used for harp playing.

Some of you guys better at teaching will chime in here I hope! Iceman, Snowman, Adam?

My wife and music partner recently had a fracture of a vertebra in her lower back, which has slowed us down considerably. She's knitting but it will be a while yet. Meantime we're playing 2 or 3 songs at a sitting. Be grateful for your opportunities! We hope to be in this area long enough to play some along the coast here in North Carolina.
Jolene and I have been doing music for about 15 years now. About 13 of it as gigging musicians. We've "learned" each other to a deep extent. Previous to that I worked with several bands and partners over a few decades, and hit every open mic and jam I could find. Playing with other musicians, especially those who were better than me, challenged me to keep improving.


The minutiae of playing you will pick up, from practice and from anyone who can teach you. The harmonica thing has gotten so huge in recent years and there are a lot of great resources available. Depending on where you live there may be a teacher for you a few miles away, or a skype session.

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The Iceman
3817 posts
Apr 14, 2019
12:36 PM
jbone sez "
Some of you guys better at teaching will chime in here I hope! Iceman?"

OK.
Blowing is for putting out Birthday candles.
Sucking is for that last piece of spaghetti.
Drawing is for sketching.


One BREATHES the harmonica - inhale and exhale.
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The Iceman
HandicappedHarpist
2 posts
Apr 14, 2019
1:27 PM
Interesting that you can bend hole 4 with little trouble, but have a tougher time with holes 2 and 3. For me, the lower the note, the easier to bend. I find hole 2 to be an incredibly easy bend. Hole 3 is a bit harder, and hole 4 is really hard for me to bend.

And I've been "playing" harmonica for over 20 years.

Guess we both need to keep working at it.

Happy Harping.
Mustang
8 posts
Apr 15, 2019
10:15 AM
Yes I find #2 harder to bend due to the amount of air needed maybe to inhale? 3 I can bend three octaves I guess but can't get that lowest sound some great players can do. I may not be bending totally correctly either I guess. I need lessons, advice, encouragement and time. Speed is my biggest issue which I guess will come in time I hear. Any advice on speaking pronouncing certain phrases or words to make playing cleaner or faster?
The Iceman
3820 posts
Apr 15, 2019
12:26 PM
Mustang, you are all over the map.

Just pick one aspect and work on it until you "own" it.

Bending = tongue placement. It's as simple as that - has NOTHING to do with amount of air needed.

There have been many discussions on bending technique here on this forum, so there is a wealth of info here if you put forth the effort to look for it.
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The Iceman
HandicappedHarpist
6 posts
Apr 15, 2019
1:14 PM
Mustang, I agree with The Iceman. Don't try to do too much too fast, and don't immediately try the more complicated techniques. I was playing harmonica for many years before I got serious about bending. Besides, Iceman is right. Bending has nothing to do with how much air is needed.

Start with and master the basics, such as how to hold the harp in your hands, and proper embouchure with your lips. Then I would recommend some scale exercises. Practice playing the scale in 1st position. Then practice the 2nd position (Blues) scale. Get a good feel for where all the notes are on your harmonica. Some tunes will call for jumping from a Blow on hole 4 to a Draw on 6. Practice smoothly jumping from one hole to another, and not just from one to the next, but between holes that are not adjacent.

Bending is one of the trickier harp techniques. It's useful. And I suppose a lot of people may want to learn it right away. But give yourself a good foundation in the basics, first. It'll make you a better harpist.

HH
The Iceman
3821 posts
Apr 15, 2019
1:51 PM
HH sez "Bending is one of the trickier harp techniques."

Sorry, but that's a myth....Bending is very easy if you use the right approach. Personally, I've taught rank beginners on the harmonica how to bend to exact pitch within 2 weeks after showing them the tongue placement approach.

It's one of those techniques that if you say "it takes YEARS to learn how to bend", the harmonica will say "Yes, Master". If you say "it takes 2 weeks to learn how to bend", the harmonica will say "Yes, Master".
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The Iceman
HandicappedHarpist
8 posts
Apr 15, 2019
2:20 PM
Okay, I stand corrected.
Mustang
9 posts
Apr 15, 2019
4:46 PM
I do skip around a lot with different techniques and different teachers, videos and lessons mainly due to YouTube and Auto play which randomly covers a Wide variety of both players, techniques and curiosities. I have a passion to learn it all. I love the sound. I love when something clicks and works like it’s supposed to. I probably am in hurry to learn to much at one time. I’m only playing 3 months but don’t consider myself a beginner. I can bend and yes with my tongue and some facial movement and use bends often. They don’t always sound correct and like some pros but I’m not upset because I have nothing but time and enjoy trying newer things and different ways to create common sounds. I may just slow down a bit and take an occasional break like previously suggested. My lips and corners of my mouth are hurting anyway so maybe a break is needed.
Thanks for everyone’s opinions and suggestions. Take care.
HandicappedHarpist
13 posts
Apr 16, 2019
3:53 PM
Having the passion for it is most important. If you don't love what you're doing--whether it be playing harmonica, or anything else--you won't stick with it very long. Rather than being fun, practice will become a chore. You'll lose interest. Someday, you'll see your harmonica sitting on a shelf somewhere and say to yourself, "Wow, I can't remember the last time I played that thing!"

Take your practice seriously, but not so seriously that it ceases to be fun.

HH
Mustang
10 posts
Apr 17, 2019
2:20 PM
I do have fun and enjoy every minute. Every time I think I'm Gunna take a break I hear a song I like and I pick one up and start jamming along and the next thing I know it's 4 hours later and my lips are raw lol. I mainly meant the lower keys demand more air on the lower holes than do say a C or even A. I find it easier to bend on a C than a G for whatever reason that is. I find it more difficult to bend 2 hole than a 4 for whatever reason. I can do both but I'm more consistent in a 4 draw. 3 draws I can hit everything but the whole step bend. I Practice it often too and I understand about the tongue position and restriction of air etc but I can also bend by simply puckering my lips out or slightly tipping up the harp at the same time and doesn't always involve my tongue like most draws. But either way I will Hopefully continue my practice and learn from experienced players to to take this to the next level. I play into my iPad apps and record along with some Dylan type songs and have gotten pretty good but when I replay them the crappy microphone really sounds tinny and I'm not pleased. I may need something better to record into so it sounds better. It really helps me to listen to myself play and then redo it again and again until I don't miss any notes. But thanks again. And I was impressed with your life story too.

Last Edited by Mustang on Apr 17, 2019 2:24 PM
HandicappedHarpist
17 posts
Apr 18, 2019
1:00 AM
That you were impressed with my story is a compliment for which I am grateful. And I will be glad to encourage you in your endeavors to learn harmonica. And remember this, any advice I give you is merely my opinion, based on my own experience. If you find that anything I suggest doesn't work for you, then by all means, do something different.

To that end, allow me to share this story with you...

A friend once said, "I could never play harmonica and make it sound good; not like you can."

I looked at him as if he'd lost his mind and said, "Are you crazy? You play the bass. That requires a lot of finger work that I could never do. Having Cerebral Palsy, my fingers just don't have the dexterity for that. With the harmonica, I just hold it up to my mouth and blow. If I can do it, anyone can."

He shook his head and said, "No, I'd never be able to play it and make it sound good like you do."

That reminded me of an article I'd read several years ago. The author said that a lot of people get frustrated, wondering, "Why can't I sound like this guy, or that guy? I'm playing the same notes. But I can't mimic what so-and-so does."

The author explained that every single harmonica player has his/her own unique style of playing. How you play harmonica is as unique to you as your personality. In fact, I call it your harmonica personality. This is the artistic aspect of harping that cannot be taught or learned. It will simply develop over time.

So what I found interesting about what my friend said to me is that he wasn't saying that he could never learn to play a melody on a harmonica. He's intelligent enough for me to know he'd be able to do that. But he was saying that he'd never be able to play with any kind of style and character (personality) that is needed to truly make the harmonica sound good.

I would encourage you to keep that in mind as you go forward.

Happy Harping.
Mustang
11 posts
Apr 18, 2019
5:50 PM
Thanks For the story. I believe that is true that everyone has a path. My path will be different than anyone else’s. I’m cool with that. I’m happy with the fact I’m still very very interested after 3 months and also that I progressed so much from day 1. I know I have a long way to go. I’m ok with that also. I do feel a need to go to a teacher or like I said a friend who is very good on the harp and is willing to clear some things up for me. I will then see my next step . I’m trying to stay off for a few days because my lips are literally chapped and red from playing. I will keep in touch and thanks for the advice. Take care.
John

Last Edited by Mustang on Apr 18, 2019 5:51 PM
jbone
2894 posts
Apr 18, 2019
9:20 PM
Slightly off topic, but HH, take a look at Cedell Davis. Handicapped from a fairly young age but still made a career out of guitar.


Mustang, the sore lips can tell you a couple of things. One, you may be a bit obsessive about playing right now and the danger is getting burned out. Two, You may be pushing the harp into your lips way too hard and sliding with too much "lip lock" will shred your lips. These days a lot of models are either sealed wood or plastic or composite combs which don't swell and thus you don't have that issue. Unsealed wood combs swell out across the middle holes and play hell with the lips. Of course with the Manji this is not an issue.
You have the rest of your life to make progress in, why not ease up a bit and try a gentler approach? Very seldom do I end up with sore lips even if we play 3 or 4 sets in a night (which we rarely do these days).
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Mustang
12 posts
Apr 19, 2019
9:31 AM
I hear ya jbone. I took yesterday off totally and notice a difference. I just think I’m over playing. The manji are very comfortable so I think I’m just over playing. Sometimes I’ll play 4 hours at a time with only 2 or 3 hours between then start playing again. I get into a groove and start playing with songs that are in the keys I have and like I said, it’s then 4 hours later. I don’t wanna stop but I think it’s ok to not play for 2 or 3 days. It actually reignites my interest and excitement. And I do tend to play hard when I’m doing the blues. Not so much if I’m just playing to a Dylan song. But all is good and thanks. Love the harp.

Last Edited by Mustang on Apr 19, 2019 9:31 AM
Fingers
238 posts
Apr 19, 2019
11:29 AM
Hi Mustang! I don't often comment on the forum but one thing I have noticed in over 30 years of playing is it is beneficial to have time off from playing!....you will find everything you have been working on becomes fixed in your brain in the off time,you will find you can recall it all easier, it's like it is cemented into the brain!!.
I can remember playing gigs after months off with no practice and never even meeting the band before and it was like I've never been away.......so all in all I guess I'm saying ......a break is a good thing. all the best Fingers.
jbone
2896 posts
Apr 19, 2019
5:15 PM
@Mustang, thanks. Manji are my go to harp for street/acoustic stuff. They last like nothing else I've used and reed plates are not too spendy. Yes I do wear out a reed here and there but not like I once did! Do what works for you.


@Fingers, exactly how I see it. Isn't the human brain marvelous!
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Mustang
13 posts
Apr 20, 2019
1:24 PM
Very true Fingers. Even when I take a 24 hour break I find my notes to be much more clear vs. when I over play everything seems to tighten up and sound awful so I agree totally on that aspect.
Jbone yes the Manjis seem to be my favorite so far but I’ve only had lee Oskar to compare too and find these so much clearer and just more air tight and they fit my mouth better and I also like that the hole #s are barely noticeable if at all. The Lee Oskar #s are very deep and rough. Thanks again.
jbone
2900 posts
Apr 20, 2019
7:49 PM
There are plenty of good choices re brand and model of harp. Oskar, Hohner, Seydel, Suzuki. Eastop, and more that I have yet to even try. You can spend a lot of time and $ as you go along and seek out what you like the best. I started out when Hohner was king. Lee Oskar brought the replacement reed plate model out and changed the whole game. Others, in Europe and Asia, and South America, joined to fray and we have some great harps to choose from. But as a beginner I think the Manji will take some abuse and stand up well. Ultimately when you learn more about control, focus vs breath force, you may want to try some sweeter and smoother playing other flavors.
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Music and travel destroy prejudice.

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