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Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > Playing the harmonica using nose clips
Playing the harmonica using nose clips
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5 posts
Mar 03, 2022
2:23 PM
Hello harp friends!

Sorry if i ask too many questions but this is a great forum with lots of great information!

Someone suggested me to practice the harmonica using a swimmer nose clip to learn how to breath properly with the instrument.

Using the clip my tone is so much better!

Do you think it's a good practice? I believe that I have to learn to close my nose without the clip... It's like riding a bicycle using training wheels. Any thoughts?
34 posts
Mar 03, 2022
4:49 PM
I am not sure what benefits you would be trying to obtain by using a nose clip. Maybe there are things it can help with.

I know that I certainly breath though my nose a lot while playing - usually because I need to move extra air into or out of my lungs. Generally, you breath in so much playing second position, that sometimes you need to blow out lots of air. You might not be able to do it all out your mouth, so you blow out your nose and mouth simultaneously. It works in reverse too, if you have a passage with lots of blow notes, you may need to breath in through both mouth and nose at the same time just to get enough air. Finally it might be that you need to bring in or expel air without playing a note - and without pulling your mouth away from the harmonica.

Last Edited by Bluebird on Mar 03, 2022 4:49 PM
2290 posts
Mar 04, 2022
7:00 AM
There are times when you need to breathe through your nose while playing, though you need to learn to stop that airflow internally, too.

I think it is best to practice playing as you would in a normal situation, without nose clips.

Using clips for a limited time could possibly focus your attention on proper breathing while stopping airflow through your nose, though I am not convinced it will help much. The clips might offer an example to direct your attention to nasal airflow while playing.

In the long run, you need to practice opening and closing airflow through your nose without holding your nose or using clips. It has to become automatic, and to learn to direct the flow or shut it off you need to play without the clips.

I am not saying it will hurt to use clips briefly as an example for yourself of playing harp while shutting off air through your nose. I do think it is of limited utility in the bigger picture. You need to learn to direct airflow without clips.

Regarding "how to breathe properly through the instrument", I think that practicing dropping your jaw to open your airway and learning to breathe from your diaphragm and not just your upper chest would better serve your development than focusing your attention on nasal airflow.

A lot of practice over time will pull all the elements together.

Doug S.

Last Edited by dougharps on Mar 04, 2022 7:01 AM
187 posts
Mar 04, 2022
2:54 PM
This post hit home with me. I've struggled with this for a while. My nose is really crooked inside, deviated septum or whatever. I can close airflow through my right nostril, but cannot stop flow through the left. I don't think it affects my tone, but is does make me run out of breath sooner due to air coming into my lungs from somewhere besides through the reeds. I've never tried using a nose clip, makes sense though. I would think if your nose doesn't have any problems, you shouldn't need to try this nose clip idea. Just practice breathing in through your nose and then squeeze your nose shut.
105 posts
Mar 06, 2022
9:44 PM
I have noticed how difficult it is to play with a stuffed nose due to having a cold. I imagine wearing a nose clip would feel about the same. Also, could it be possible that playing with a closed nose be harmful to someone, maybe unduly affecting the sinuses and/or ears due to back pressure? As I write, I'm thinking the effect may be similar to pinching one's nose and blowing with their mouth shut to pop one's ears. I'm of a mind that playing with a nose clip is not a good idea. One most certainly needs to be able to take on air and to dump excess air according to the passages played. The synchronized, simultaneous use of the the mouth and nose become second nature with practice, it's not a big deal or something to fret about. Imagine if you had to play with your mouth taped shut, using only your nose.
Honkin On Bobo
1546 posts
Mar 08, 2022
8:13 AM
I really don’t see how this is a good idea. I’m a big whatever works kinda guy, but this just seems ridiculous.

With practice you should be able to get good basic tone without any kind of trick or gimmick. I’m not even sure why it would produce “better” tone.
993 posts
Mar 08, 2022
9:51 AM
"Someone suggested me to practice the harmonica using a swimmer nose clip to learn how to breath properly with the instrument"

Heres your sign!
Soap Music
94 posts
Mar 11, 2022
10:51 AM
I had a Vindaloo last night and a nose clip was just what l needed when putting pressure on my diaphragm.
407 posts
Mar 13, 2022
9:52 AM
Good response to a silly prank question Soap!
Soap Music
95 posts
Mar 14, 2022
1:08 PM
Cheers, Sunny.
I just bought myself a Gastric Marine Band harmonica, lose weight and no gas problems.

Last Edited by Soap Music on Mar 14, 2022 1:35 PM
347 posts
Mar 21, 2022
4:08 AM
I'm firmly in the learn-to-close-off-your-nasal-passages camp, but jeez cut the guy some slack.
9 posts
Mar 21, 2022
5:05 AM
Not-so-cool responses guys but thanks a lot for themore serious insights.

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