The harmonica (or commonly, the mouth organ) has a certain appeal. It is one of the most uncomplicated musical instruments but certainly among the more romantic. For me personally, it was Ennio Morricone’s haunting tune in ‘Once Upon A Time in the West’ that made me want to learn how to play the mouth organ (as we commonly call it).
Learning to play the harmonica is all about breath control and practicing your ass off. Of course, like all musical skills, you got to have an ear for it. As I found out with the first few blows on the reeds, the instrument is deceptively difficult. Like mine, I don’t know how your journey will end…but you can start off in a good note with learning the basics of playing the harmonica, starting here.
Wilbur’s Beginning Harmonica Lessons and Tips [No Longer Available]
It doesn’t get simpler than this one long webpage of simple instructions that goes into the technique of holding a harmonica and the correct mouth position. If you are looking to start off quickly, this simple tutorial is worth the first look.
This webpage explains the musical notations that help to understand the blow and draw process of playing on the harmonica. There’s also a table that shows how to play the harmonica with cross keys (a different key than it was designed for). This page is like a ‘cheat sheet’ with short and concise instructions.
If you are looking to buy a harmonica and as a newbie you have no idea how to go about it, visit this little page. Most of the popular bands are reviewed. Ian Chadwick also offers a note of caution when it comes to buying harmonicas online. Believe me, after reading through the page, harmonica buying is as complex as any other musical instruments though it fits into the palm of your hand. The simple site also has a vibrant forum behind it.
If you are new to the diatonic harmonica, these video tutorials can help you out. Dan Gage also learnt to play the mouth organ, just as you are probably trying to learn right now – on his own. His preference is for clean clear notes and the beginner to advanced lessons across 64 videos cover the techniques required.
Adam Gussow is a blue harp player of repute and his YouTube site is educational to say the least when you want to explore the playing potential of the harp. There are loads of clips on harmonica performances. He also has a website, but it is commercially oriented with tutorials you need to pay for.
This is a handy chromatic harmonica reference guide. The double framed page may not be winning any design awards, but it is information rich as it takes the reader from an introductory primer to music theories behind playing a chromatic harp. There is an informative section on maintaining your chromatic harmonicas too.
This harmonic tutoring site is specially tailored for kids. The parent site, Harmonicalessons.com is a very informative site in itself but lot of the content is for members only. Harmonica 4 Kids is a good starter resource for kids with tips indexed around specific age groups.
If you have reached here, then you have come far. Tabs are like sheet music for learners who cannot read sheet music. It shows the notes for a song with numbers representing each hole on the harmonica. The database of harmonica tabs lists nearly 15000 songs, each indicated by symbols for chromatic, diatonic, tremolo, and tuned octave. Each tab also displays the key and the difficulty level, so you know which one to pick according to your playing level.
My search for the best sites to learn how to play the harmonica unearthed many – these are the select few. On the design side of things, these sites and the majority that’s out there won’t be walking away with Brownie points, but rest assured that they will help you start off with the right blows on your harp. Decide between the chromatic and the diatonic and let it rip.
Here are few more instructional posts on music we have featured previously:
Are you a harmonica player? Did you turn to the web in an attempt to learn yourself? If so, give us your best pointers.
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