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beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Constructive Crticism Request
Constructive Crticism Request
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7 posts
Apr 05, 2019
6:51 AM
I'm working on getting clean single notes and breathing. The first video was recorded a few weeks after starting to learn harp playing. The second video was after about a month. The lessons are from the Harmonica Primer that I purchased from cvls.com. Constructive comments requested.


Jeff B

Last Edited by Pickn5 on Apr 15, 2019 7:37 AM
1088 posts
Apr 05, 2019
6:29 PM
Nice melody!

You got that single notes! That is a huge first step!

Now you need to take the next step: bend to pitch.

Keep it up!
Sorry for any misspell, english is not my first language.
5864 posts
Apr 06, 2019
12:20 AM
sounds good. i guess thats a whole step bend in hole 3; i thought you were doing quite well with it really. Rogonzab is right of course, getting those bends on pitch and fluent is really the key skill to master, but theres plenty of time for that and you should feel good about the progress you've made.

i dont really remember when i started playing but i know it was after 95 and before 99. i'm going with '97, the year my daughter was born.
anyway, i thought i had bending going quite well by 2008, when i audaciously rang up a pro harp player and nervously demonstrated my skills. he told me to work on bending.
in 2011 i rang up Christelle Berthon on skype. she prescribed bending exercises. i was playing in a couple of bands by this time.
in 2012 i started taking lessons with Jimi Lee. JL was the first tutor who really showed me how to get better at bending.

I believe Dennis Gruenling knows how to teach bending, and Iceman likely does too. Once you have control of the process you still have to calibrate it and teaching your ears to hear relative pitch is a big part of that. You must get control of the process though; until you have that, it doesn't really matter how many tunes yu play which require you to hit specific pitches. those are good but they help most after you have learned the control.
sorry, that is more information than is strictly relevant here.

i do believe the types of tunes you are playing are valuable exercises in becoming familiar with the harp and in ear training. perhaps you already have well-trained hearing.

i would say you are doing well
9 posts
Apr 06, 2019
6:42 AM
@rogonzab, thank you for the encouraging words. I'm working on getting clean single notes as its the first lesson section in the book/DVD that I have.
Jeff B
10 posts
Apr 06, 2019
7:02 AM
@SuperBee, I was just working on getting clean single notes as that is the first section in my lesson book/DVD. I was also working on breathing so I could get through the tune more than once without running out of air. If I bent a note, it was accidental. I must have inhaled to strongly when drawing one of the notes.

I really like Christelle Berthon's playing. I also like Charlie McCoy and have his Beginning Country Harp DVD.

My hearing isn't all that good due to hearing loss and tinnitus. I've been learning the 5string banjo for about 7 years and that has helped with my ear training.

Thank you for your comments, I appreciate it.

Jeff B
5868 posts
Apr 07, 2019
1:48 AM
Hi, Jeff.
Ha ha, that is slightly amusing then. I picked up an Ab harp and just found a way to play the tune. Of course I knew it was unlikely to be worth tryyto match your pitch using the Ab so I just tried to hear the melody. I remember learning the tune about 12 years ago or so

I should have guessed you were likely using a C harp.

It turns out you were playing a C Harp, beginning on 4 blow

I was using an Ab and began on 2 draw. I thought I heard a bend in your piece, which must have been your 4 draw. It’s a bit muffled-sounding.

Anyway if you play as I did, starting on 2 draw or 3 blow, then your 4 draw corresponds with my 3 draw whole tone bend.

So I suppose that’s some feedback, I didn’t know it but now I think your 4 draw is a bit muffled on Michael, Row ....
That move is twice from 5 blow to 4 draw. It’s the only place in the song where you change both chamber and breath direction at the same time so I dare say it’s just a little complication you’ll soon have no problem with but just on that example you were not quite hitting it.
Does explain why I thought your pitch on the bend was quite good though ;))
257 posts
Apr 07, 2019
3:58 AM
...links don't work for me...

edit..I got them to play by going directly to youtube and shortening the link and they came right up. (Mary and Michael)

Last Edited by Spderyak on Apr 07, 2019 4:08 AM
11 posts
Apr 09, 2019
8:34 AM
SuperBee, thanks for the feedback. Yes I'm having a little trouble on that 4 draw. I bought the C harp (Hohner Special 20 Progressive) due to the lessons using a C harp. I just bought a Hohner Marine Band 1896 in G. My goal is to learn the same tunes on harp and banjo. My banjo is tuned to open G and I mostly play in G now. I figure G harp for straight harp and C harp for cross harp. I'll learn to play in other keys if I live long enough. I started banjo at 62 and now harp at 69. I'm having fun though, and for me, that's the whole point of playing.
Jeff B
5874 posts
Apr 09, 2019
6:20 PM
It’s funny I think, how this goes.
These days I often don’t know if I’m blowing or drawing, until I stop and think. I see people instructing on YouTube sometimes who have the same issue. Once you know a piece or a scale or an exercise sufficiently well, you are no longer especially conscious in the moment of precisely what you’re doing; the attention is elsewhere. But when you are beginning, a much greater focus on the ‘how’ is required.

Soon you’ll have no trouble with the changes of direction. As you’ve no doubt learned from playing banjo, things which seemed at one time almost impossible can become automatic.

“Leaps” were the thing I recall took me a while. Probably a mindset issue

When I was very young I saw a harmonica and I remember thinking it was very strange. I understood it was intended to be played by blow and draw, but I couldn’t see how one could play note without getting others at the same time. The holes were so small!
I was sure it was impossible.
I recall feeling quite surprised when I heard someone (probably my mother) play a tune on it. From then on I treated it like a rubik’s cube. I understood it could be done, but I didn’t understand how to do it.
The cube still eludes me but I can play single notes now :)
2605 posts
Apr 17, 2019
4:49 AM
This is a great job on the single notes - that's it!

I did the same thing as SuperBee, and started playing the tune in 2nd position, thinking I heard a 3 draw bend in there, and thinking that you'd done a really nice job as it's hard to get right.

Actually that 'trouble' on 4 draw sounds like the start of bending, something to explore I'd have thought. To start with you'll get a little inflection and later you'll be able to get a new note and be able to glide between them. Lots of fun to come.

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