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Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > What technique and skills have you been working on
What technique and skills have you been working on
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91 posts
Jan 12, 2022
5:20 PM
For the past 2 years I think a majority of musicians haven't been able to gig, practice, or collaborate live nearly much as we had prior to Covid.

In order to stay positive I decided to set musical goals for myself. I wanted to come out of the pandemic a better musician and feel like I accomplished something, so I hit the woodshed and really got focused.

Some of my goals:

-Really learn to tongue block.
-Pick 1 blues album per week and listen and study intently
-learn bass guitar
-use 3rd position for more than just minor songs

I would be interested to see how you have occupied your practice time?

Hope everyone stays healthy.

Last Edited by agarner on Jan 12, 2022 5:21 PM
3014 posts
Jan 13, 2022
6:55 AM
Lemme whip up a clip playing the blues, I’ll be back.
3421 posts
Jan 13, 2022
2:49 PM
Au contriaire. Here where we settled in early 2020, yes it was very shut down in that spring, but starting in the fall we began busking on the street here. We actually played a gig at one club in October as well and it was a great gig all around. We continued to busk until New Year's weekend 2020.
January 7 found my guitar partner and best gal ever in emergency surgery for a cancerous tumor. This DID put a damper on music for about 10 weeks to 2 months.
March 2021 found Jolene healed up quite a bit and ready to play out again, so we did.
Here and there we made a few live videos.
In late May or early June 2021 Jo had some spinal issues which again laid her up pretty hard. Still, she found the inner resources to get back out for a time and play on the street and even play a couple of gigs. This past fall we decided that I should learn to play guitar toward the day when she would no longer be able to join me. We found a very nice chrome over brass Dobro, and I began learning slide guitar. Meanwhile Jo is still accompanying me in busking here and we are actually hoping to get another gig or two as weather permits.

I don't claim to know a lot of the ins and outs of playing harmonica, but I do know a few things, having worked hard over the past 25 or so years, and struggled over the 25 before that. If I have found a song I like I have studied it and brought it to the table. If Jo has decided on a new song to cover I will study it as well and also fit my part to what she works out on guitar. We have written and produced 3 CD's since 2009, all original material and all worked up by us exclusively. So in one respect I have studied certain specific elements about playing a particular song or part.
My position is I am more a peoples' player than a player's player. I no doubt could benefit from more focused study in specific directions but I don't know where I'd find the time.
Music and travel destroy prejudice.





Last Edited by jbone on Jan 13, 2022 7:02 PM
John M G
451 posts
Jan 13, 2022
4:35 PM
I've put more effort into tongue blocking and continued to practice overblows and overdraws.
I've also worked on my bend accuracy, I'm trying to get Sonny Boy II's Mighty Long Time really accurate, such a great song along with No More Nights Alone.
I've put a lot more effort into my chromatic playing to.
Speed is something I still feel that I have to work on for some numbers but when you're knocking on the door of 70 I guess you just have to give yourself a bit of a break and not be too hard on yourself!
2160 posts
Jan 13, 2022
7:59 PM
I have downloaded the Tonal Energy app and am working on my 2 and 3 hole bends.

BronzeWailer's YouTube

Last Edited by BronzeWailer on Jan 13, 2022 8:02 PM
1741 posts
Jan 15, 2022
2:03 PM
Mostly exploring the PentaHarp in the last few months, and working on my composing/arranging/recording skills.
Harmonica lessons with one of the world's foremost experts
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ted burke
934 posts
Jan 17, 2022
4:49 PM
Playing faster.

3427 posts
Jan 18, 2022
6:20 AM
We've been invited to collaborate with another artist and work up several of his songs in our style, and also to provide some of our material for his project. The goal will be to put an internet based album together for airplay across a few different stations. It's really cool that this guy thinks enough of us to want us in on his work. We expect this may take months to put together on our end.
Music and travel destroy prejudice.




92 posts
Jan 21, 2022
12:23 AM
I have a Maceo Parker album I have been jamming with, one song in particular. I don't aspire to keep up with his syncopated licks & riffs note-for-note all the way through but, learning some of the lines his back-up horns are playing and getting what I can of licks within his solos does help my own playing and it helps me "get off the downbeat"....with hope that some of the feel will make it's way into and through my own playing. There is a Jimmy Smith and a Coltrane album "Tranes Blues" that I have been doing this with too. Harmonically cannot keep up with Coltrane of course but some of the tunes heads' are in Dorian Mode so you can get the head of tune and them I improvise in 3rd position.....picking up fragments of licks where I can.
10389 posts
Jan 21, 2022
10:33 AM
I've been doing lots of things in small amounts- practicing gapping my harps, expanding my knowledge of music theory, listening to old recordings and thinking about what I'd do differently with them now. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out new ways to explain musical concepts to people... in particular I'm trying to figure out better ways to explain modes and positions to people.

I keep meaning to make some very basic tutorial videos but I hate the way my voice sounds on recordings (not so much when I'm singing, but when I'm talking).

I've been playing mostly Paddy Richters lately.

Thread Organizer (A list of all sorts of useful threads)

First Post- May 8, 2009
391 posts
Jan 24, 2022
11:32 AM
I work mostly at being fluid in my playing.
So even when I'm working on tune that I already do I find some of them sound to stiff or choppy so working on fluidity.
Also I work a fair amount on technique esp now that I'm giving it a go with the valved diatonics from Pt Gazell
style of playing.
283 posts
Jan 25, 2022
10:16 PM
In 55 years of playing I’ve never practiced with any regularity. At the beginning of the pandemic, March to September 2020, I practiced 1-1 1/2 hours 5-6 days per week - tongue blocking, playing along to blues and jazz songs, practicing horn and piano solos - everything from T-Bone Walker and Paul Desmond to Django Reinhardt and Vince Guaraldi. By October 2020 I was working almost exclusively on re-writing and arranging songs for an upcoming CD (negligible practice time). April - August was recording, mixing, and mastering of a live album - 15 songs, 15 musicians - and November to now, promoting it to DJs (while still not playing out to promote it). So, no practicing for a year. Lately (last two weeks) I went back to writing songs so I’m playing a little in accompaniment but it’s a reminder that I’m WAY out of practice and need to work on chops, tone, and muscle memory.
179 posts
Jan 26, 2022
6:02 AM
My practice routine has always been haphazard cosisting mostly of playing along w/ the greats , bactracks and karaoke. New to me lately, scales and visual aids. I visited The Harmonica Layout Chart page and began using their numerical layouts. I just left the full blown up pic on my monitor while playing and was surprised by the effects it had . The whole visual aspect of having something to look at seemed foreign and almost like cheating, like eyesight to the blind. Im no stranger to the richter layout but the minds eye view Ive been using hasnt been as clear as the real deal. That minds eye view is changing and becoming clearer,thats progress :). Then I began working scales in different positions again very effective and progressive. Finally, I reconfigured the layout pics for Natural Minor tuned harps in 1, 2, 3, and 6/11th positions and that has been eye opening. Very.... Im playing stuff I never have and connecting things I never did before. Still getting better!!!
2300 posts
Jan 27, 2022
11:42 AM
Blow g to f trill on chromatic. 7 to 6
100 posts
Feb 01, 2022
5:19 PM
Working on arrangements.

I’ve been playing in a ‘blues harmonica ensemble’ for many years – and that is about as niche as you get! At the moment we’re concentrating and working on “arranging” for our unique group – pulling a song apart so that all the different aspects of it can be tailored for harmonica. It’s usually a bass line, then rhythm/melody, then solos/fills and then 'following the vocals'. Sometimes it’s more complex than that. You don’t often see sheet music or tab written for 5th harmonica! It’s almost always done on diatonics, although we use chromatics a fair bit and the occasional bass and even a chord. We used to do only instrumentals, but now we have convinced two of our number to do vocals as well.

We play some improvised bits, but when you’ve got six or so harps on the go concurrently, there needs to be a pretty well organised plan! Blues jams and other ‘normal’ bands are our outlets for the more traditional blues harp work – and that doesn’t require the arranging the ensemble needs to do to avoid sounding like an elementary school recorder band.
403 posts
Apr 19, 2022
9:33 AM
New Technique
Turns out I need to start practicing playing with a
mask on.
That's one technique I would never have foreseen that's for sure !
We are just starting to get gigs again at assisted living places like we did before the pandemic which basically ended our gigs for 2 yrs.
Last time I tried scrunching the mask up which really just pushed it up into my eyes.
So for todays practice I just said screw it and placed my harp under my mask and played.
It wasn't as bad as I thought but I certainty see breaking a few of those ear loops strings in the course of an hrs gig.
I would be interested if others have had to deal with it or what they did.
I haven't tried it holding a mic figure I'll need to swap to a microphone stand.
6 posts
Apr 20, 2022
11:49 AM
I've been practicing harmonica customization, especially reed work and tuning...i do love me some obscure layouts!

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