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beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Beginner hole 7 draw help
Beginner hole 7 draw  help
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1 post
Mar 07, 2019
12:44 AM
New to the forum, and a thank you in advance as I have learned so much by reading previous posts.

Having just jammed along to blues previously i very rarely ventured above the 6th hole!

I'v decided to be more constructive with my practice and I am following a course at Harmonica Academy which I am enjoying.

As well as the blues part I decided to give the tunes study a go, Planxty Irwin has a lot of 7 and 8 hole notes......and I'm struggling to get a note especially on the draw. I thought it was my harp....but after trying 2 others...it must be me. I produce a kind of of thin sometimes screechy sound, or nothing!

I am quite surprised as holes 1-6 are ok, I can bend and control the bend reasonably well....but hole 7...I can hardly blow/draw a note most of the time.

I presume its my embouchure....but I can't correct it.......Help!.....I seem to be spending a lot of time going nowhere.

Update: I have sort of cracked it by relaxing and putting the tip of my tongue under the bottom of the harp, just sort of touching the comb.
Is this ok?.....I don't want to learn bad habits

Further update: With all this faffing about.....
(I tried a couple of harps with the same result).....I think I have learned myself to tongue block!
My tone has improved and I can understand how some of those blues player's came to play some of those licks. My blues playing has improved because of it, I can move notes much quicker lower down the scale.
My concern is whether I will ever need to play the higher notes without tongue blocking?

Sorry for the long post.
2 posts
Mar 07, 2019
9:13 AM
Well....after a bit of reading and you tube I realise I'm not tongue blocking at all, just using my tongue to focus the sound.....its quite useful as I can play 2 holes without having to move the harp much....is this a bad thing????
I really don't want to get into using bad habits that take months to unlearn!
350 posts
Mar 07, 2019
5:20 PM
Most lessons are on a key of C harp. The high end of the harp is often more sensitive to correct emboucher but in general, it’s good to have the harp deep in the mouth (front to back) and the higher the pitch, the gentler should be the draw or blow, I.e. BREATHE through the harp, don’t blow or suck. Gentle!

Dave Barrett is very much into tongue blocking. Not sure exactly what you’re doing but it’s not reall “pure” tongue blocking.
5842 posts
Mar 07, 2019
10:39 PM
There are more ways to kill a cat than choking it with butter; Dave Barrett teaches a particular brand of playing. It’s a good brand, and he has mapped it out carefully and thoroughly, but it’s not the only way of doing things.
The thing with harmonica, especially diatonic, is that it’s been ‘go as you please’ for a long time.
5843 posts
Mar 08, 2019
4:48 AM
And that means you will find lots of players, some with a high degree of skill and accomplishment, who have their own way of doing things.

It doesn’t mean it’s ‘wrong’ or ‘better’ if you do something in a different way.

You only have to see the discussion that ensues when people get on the topic of ‘tongue’ v ‘lip’. Everyone agrees that both are valid and have their own strengths, and yet they all want to argue at the same time.

The thing you are talking about really takes me back to when I was learning to use my tongue; I began using my tongue to play long before I encountered Dave Barrett, and while I adopted his recommended approach, I do wonder if I’d have been able to pick it up quite so easily if I’d been coming at it cold.

I’ve just started really playing chromatic. I’d taken one of Dave’s lessons on chromatic, and it was pretty good but I’ll tell you that learning to play ‘Fast Large One’ by listening to the record and trying to reproduce what I’m hearing is a world away from that study. As an exercise in tongue blocking it’s really something, but I’m also aware I’ve been blocking the Barrett way for around 9 years now and the articulations seem pretty intuitive. That’s good, because I know if I have to think about it for long, I’ll crash
5844 posts
Mar 08, 2019
4:53 AM
What I meant to say is that when I started blocking it was on the high end where I first saw the value. I was still slobbering trying to insert chords into folk songs when I began playing tongue blocked articulations around the high end and found it improved my high end playing out of sight
3 posts
Mar 08, 2019
10:17 AM
thanks for the replies...most appreciated.

I realised I'm not tongue blocking....but its helping my playing...hahhaa...I need all the help I can get.

I will record myself and listen to the tone with and without my tongue helping things out. I have heard some great tone from players and have tried to work on this from the start.
I will report back!
4 posts
Mar 13, 2019
3:04 AM
I've sussed it....I'm U-blocking!
Norton Buffalo....one of the famous U-blockers.

Works well for me on the upper notes....so I'm going to continue to use it up there.
255 posts
Mar 20, 2019
4:32 AM
I had heard not all people can do the tongue roll so I looked it up.
Apparently approximately 64 to 81 percent can do it. Fairly safe to say that about 25 percent of the population cannot do it.

It does help put the premise out there that some types of playing techniques are not applicable to all folks.

Every so often you come across folks who swear their way is the best..but usually I think it is best for them while you develop a technique which is best for oneself.

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