This course shows you the basic principles you will need in order to start playing blues harmonica. It is designed for the absolute beginner who may or may not already own a harmonica. Most importantly you have the desire to play but are not entirely sure how to go about it.
Maybe, you have already bought a harmonica and assumed it was super simple to play but then quickly discovered that those soaring blues licks sound a little weird or muddy when you try to do them. That's why I am here. To explain the basic fundamentals which you need in order to do anything and progress on the instrument.
You will learn;
- what kind of harmonica you need (harmonica in C)
- how to hold it
- how to read harmonica music
- how to play clean notes and some simple melodies
- how to play chords and keep time
- what a 12 bar blues is and how to start improvising over one!
I approach teaching this course assuming that you do not know any technical jargon yet so will share some with you if and when it is appropriate.
You also do not need to know how to read music or already play another instrument.
You will be provided with;
- harmonica tablature (this is how harmonica music is written down)
- audio examples for you to practice along to
- explanation videos
How long will it take?
If you sat down and played the course through in one sitting it would not take very long but that is not really the point. I really recommend that you spend around a month working on the various aspects of the instrument that I have shown you so that they become a strong foundation for you to build on.
Things like playing clean notes consistently take a little while to become completely ingrained in your muscle memory. So, to start with I am expecting practice - little and often.
If, during the course you are having difficulties with anything, just give me a shout!
In this lecture I outline what we are going to cover in the course.
In this lecture I will tell you:
- how a harmonica is made
- what things to look for when purchasing a harmonica
At the end of it you will know exactly what kind of harmonica you will need to learn blues harp!
In this lecture I will show you the proper to hold a harmonica so that you can play accurately and not knock it out of your hands.
After this lecture you will know how to lip purse so that you can play clean single notes on the harmonica.
In this lecture I will give you some extra tips to help you if you are still struggling to get clean notes on the harmonica.
This is the sheet music we will be using in this section.
If you print it out it will make the following video lectures easier to work on.
Harmonica music is written down using harmonica tab.
In this lecture I will show you how to read harmonica tab as well as how to play the C major scale.
Here is an audio example of the "C major scale" from the previous lecture so that you can practice playing along to it.
The harmonica tab for this is on the "First notes on harmonica (sheet music)".
Here you will learn your first melody on harmonica. A tune called "Taps" which you will probably recognise as a military tune usually played on bugle or trumpet.
This is an audio version of "Manish Boy" for you to practice playing with.
The harmonica tab for this is on the "First notes on harmonica (sheet music)"
Rhythm is an essential component of any musical instrument. In this lecture I will show you;
- how to keep time with your foot
- play chords in a rhythmic manner known as chugging
By the end of this lecture you will know what it means when someone says that they are going to play a 12 bar blues.
After this you will start to be able to hear the chord changes in a 12 bar blues progression.
This is the 12 bar blues structure sheet music I will be referring to in the following lectures.
It might be useful to print it out before continuing.
By the end of this lecture you will know which notes to play on harmonica to outline the chord progression of a 12 bar blues which will become the basis of improvisation on the instrument.
This is an audio version of "How to play a 12 bar blues on harmonica" for you to practice playing along to.
You can use the "12 Bar Blues Sheet Music" as a guide.
This is an example of me improvising over a 12 bar blues just using the "root" notes you learnt in the previous lectures.
Here I will show you the basic premise of what improvisation is and how to start doing it over a 12 bar blues using root notes on harmonica.
This is a 12 bar blues backing track which you can practice your own improvisation over.
Thank you for completing this first step on your path to playing blues harmonica.
Who am I?
My name is Tomlin Leckie and I grew up in a number of places including Argentina, England and France. I currently live in Scotland where I play and teach music full-time.
How I started playing harmonica
Back in 2005 I was embarking on a career as a guitarist in France when I got tendinitis in both wrists which meant I had to stop playing altogether for 6 months. This led to me picking up a harmonica through desperation to keep playing something musical. I did discover that I liked it. I now split my time between playing and teaching guitar and harmonica.
Problems I had when learning the instrument
The 1st problem learning the instruments was there being no harmonica teachers around. However, this wasn't a massive issue for me as I had already taught myself to play guitar and I am pretty pigheaded. I started completely devouring every Adam Gussow video on youTube. He pretty much taught me everything I needed to get started.
Another issue coming from guitar was that I wanted to be able to play guitar phrases on harmonica. However, I discovered that the harmonica is a diatonic instrument while the guitar as chromatic instrument. This means that there are loads of notes missing from the harmonica. Or so I believed… I discover that there were ways to play all those extra notes by learning advanced bending and overblow techniques which I still spend a lot of time working on now.
Customising the instrument was something that I became very interested in very early on as I realised that it was something that was essential to play all the techniques I wanted to play.
I teach individuals and group lessons at my studio in Edinburgh as well as privately over Skype.
Gear I Use
I am very proud to say that I endorse Suzuki harmonicas and am particularly taken with the Suzuki Manji. For me, it does everything I want it to do out-of-the-box. I can play all those pesky overblows no problem. Click here to find out more.