How to Hold a Harmonica | Tips for Easy Playing

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Jane Taylor in Music

Last updated: 09 January 2020, 10:18 GMT

The harmonica is a great little instrument. It's relatively easy to play, packs a punch, and can fit in your trouser pocket. But a question a lot of beginners have is how to hold a harmonica. Well, that's what we're going to teach you today.

What Exactly Is a Harmonica?


The harmonica (which is also known as the ‘French harp' or ‘mouth organ') is a ‘free reed wind' instrument used in many different music genres across the globe. It was first developed in Europe in the early part of the 19th century. It is played by holding it against the mouth and breathing both in and out.

How to Hold a Harmonica


We have broken this section down into four easy to follow steps.

Step 1

With your left hand, make a ‘C' shape, ensuring to keep your thumb and first finger parallel.

Step 2

Securing the harmonica between your thumb and forefinger, hold it in your left hand, as far back as possible.

Step 3

Align the very tip of your left pinky finger with the top crease of your right.

Step 4

While holding the harmonica, cup both of your hands together, ensuring that it's airtight (there should be no gaps).

And now you're ready to play! That's all there is to know about how to hold a harmonica!

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Some Helpful and Handy Tips and Tricks


As with playing any musical instrument, there are little tricks and techniques that really help out a lot. This is no exception when learning how to hold a harmonica.

Here are a few:

  1. Ensure that the name and hole numbers are on the top of the harmonica
  2. When it's time to actually start playing the instrument, open your mouth wide – like you're going to yawn
  3. Bring the harmonica to your mouth – don't bring your mouth to the harmonica
  4. When placing the harmonica in the playing position, stop when you feel the instrument hit the corners of your mouth
  5. Keep your lips nice and relaxed
  6. Warming the instrument by holding it in your hands, or beneath an armpit, will improve sound quality
  7. Talk to other harmonica players – they may very well have a fountain of pertinent knowledge that you can tap in to
  8. Start simple – it may sound obvious, but don't try and learn the most complicated song you can find
  9. When moving the harmonica across your mouth while playing, it should glide smoothly – if not, then you're probably pressing it too hard against your lips
  10. If you're struggling with any particular technique, be sure to watch an instructional video or two – chances are that you're only doing something very minor wrong

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How to Hold a Harmonica – a Conclusion


Now that you know how to hold a harmonica, you can start to practice and learn your favorite songs! As with any musical instrument, practice is the key, and since the mouth organ is so small and compact, you can hone your playing skills almost anywhere!







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