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beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Tips for Improving Moving Between Holes?
Tips for Improving Moving Between Holes?
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1 post
Feb 18, 2022
1:42 PM
Hi, all.

I'm working on making "clean breaks" when moving between adjacent holes. I make clean single-hole notes OK, and I'm OK skipping holes (say, going 3 to 1 for the turnaround then back to 3), but sometimes when moving between adjacent holes during solos, I catch a little bit of another hole for a split second, so the transition sounds a little rough. Some harps are better than others, in terms of key as well as manufacturer.

So far I've focused on moving the harp rather than my head. Also, I get the metal plates wet every so often to ease the friction but that lasts only a few seconds before the spit evaporates.

Any advice on ways to work on this? I could do scales going from 1-10 and then back down, but that's fabulously boring now that I can bend, tongue block and play solos.

A question: When moving between adjacent holes, does one just move the harp, or (like when skipping holes) should one slightly loosen the lips and then reapply the slight pressure once at the desired hole? Or, should one aim to apply no lip pressure at all at any time?

I identify myself as an intermediate/advanced beginner in some areas but a true beginner in others, which is to say, I can do some things well for where I am but others still need improvement. Today's topic is one area in which I've tried to improve but have seen less progress than in other areas.

395 posts
Feb 19, 2022
6:15 AM
I'll give a try at answering a couple of questions.
For me the lip pressure stays pretty much the same when I play, always using the wet part of my lips whether puckering or blocking.

When doing adjacent holes I tend do a bit of moving my head and hands so which ever you like would seem fine.
There are some excellent players who just move their jaw side to side which also seems like a good idea to keep things fast and loose.

For myself I learned many simple songs just to have fun and get the rhythm an cadence of how the notes flow. Usually they get you moving around the harp pretty well.

Scales get to be more fun when you start adding some rhythms or doubling up on some notes and things like that, (though mostly I practice riffs then variation of riffs etc)
Also there are various patterns you can develop as you move around the harp.
Thinking every note is a friend to the note beside it you can make patterns as simple or complex as you like.
...Good luck with all and have some fun !

Last Edited by Spderyak on Feb 19, 2022 5:47 AM
7057 posts
Feb 19, 2022
10:44 PM
Agree with the above. In addition, all I’d say is just keep playing. Sometimes I’ve seen people propose switching to harps with bigger spacing between holes so they can hit the individual notes more easily. That’s a dead end imho. Just keep playing and your nervous system will make the necessary adjustments in calibration.
4 posts
Feb 20, 2022
10:19 AM
Thanks for the input. I hadn't thought of making scales more interesting and friendly. As for harps with bigger spacing, I'd not heard of that but I'm sure I would have doubted its value. As for learning simple songs, I had thought of that but haven't found tabs for any yet except "Oh Susannah" in Gussow's beginner pack. While I like that song OK, it doesn't really inspire me (and sometimes gets stuck in my head longer than I want after I play). Riffs are a good idea, too. There are tons of videos out there with sets of those.
396 posts
Feb 22, 2022
12:40 PM
I remember Hohner harmonicas had a little booklet way back when. It took you through a bunch of simple songs.
So at the end off the booklet you had about 34 songs.
That was cool so just now I went looking for it in my stuff.
Turns out it was 35 cents for the booklet, so about a penny a song.
1957 copyright.... (of course it's pretty fragile now)

These days I sometimes go to the harmonica tabs web site for simple versions of songs. Kind of like a guitarist reaching for the 'fake book' to get the gist of how a tune goes.
Tabs are a bit harder cuz you don't get timing or rhythm but you can usually work out ok.

..and of course u tube and other sites where you can check out various versions of a song that people might have done.

And of course whatever else you might think of.

Last Edited by Spderyak on Feb 22, 2022 12:42 PM
59 posts
Mar 02, 2022
3:46 AM
Some people call that sloppy when you dont hit the holes cleanly. Others call it dirt and gives a more bluesy sound in different situations. I know for me it was just lots of practice and eventually you dont even think about it anymore.
Soap Music
93 posts
Mar 02, 2022
11:50 AM
My tips for moving between holes:
Stay south of the river Thames, preferably outside the M25.
Always get a receipt when you put down a deposit.
Check for condinsation and rising damp so your harmonicas don't rust.
Get a basement gaff so you can turn your amp up to 11.
Don't give the landlord your real name. Get a south facing garden so you don't have to learn Ain't No Sunshine.

Last Edited by Soap Music on Mar 03, 2022 12:06 PM

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