Instant Harmonica - play the Irish tune Whiskey in the Jar!
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Instant Harmonica - play the Irish tune Whiskey in the Jar!

Learn to play this classic singalong piece and join or lead a session singalong - get my easy step by step guide now.
5.0 (1 rating)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
41 students enrolled
Created by Ben Hewlett
Last updated 12/2015
Current price: $10 Original price: $20 Discount: 50% off
2 days left at this price!
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
  • 1 hour on-demand video
  • 10 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • play Whiskey in the Jar on your harmonica. You will also be able to learn all the songs in the INSTANT HARMONICA series so look out for the courses coming up
View Curriculum
  • You only need a C diatonic 10 hole harmonica for this course

INSTANT HARMONICA – play the wonderful Whiskey in the Jar right now!

If you have another tune that you would like me to teach please message me.

Take this course and play the tune instantly. No musical experience needed.

You will pick it up straight away without needing any music skills. This is easy to play and really fun to learn. You will be proud of your achievements and happy with the results.

'INSTANT HARMONICA' is a new series of courses where you learn one tune per course. You will find it is taught in a friendly and encouraging manner and most importantly is it taught v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y.

Ben Hewlett is a very experienced music teacher who is able to be very patient and methodical. Each lecture will introduce you to the next group of notes – usually just 4 new notes and that's it.

This method is very easy for you to pick up the tunes as they are repeated over and over again until you have got it. You can even re-run the video if you find it useful.

Take one course and learn your favourite tune. The try another. Remember you can always get your money back if you wish but otherwise you have lifetime access to the course.

Imagine how amazing it will feel when you whip out your harmonica and play this tune – your friends and family will carry you shoulder high in triumph. Hopefully they don't carry you out of town and dump you in the river, but hey, swimming's good as well.

The health benefits of playing the harmonica are well documented – google it. Your lungs get exercised, your lung capacity increases, aerobic movement is good for you, playing music makes you smarter they say.

You will have fun on your own and with your friends, and more oxygen to the brain will make you think you are having a good time so it's all good.

Who is the target audience?
  • This course is for complete beginners; you don't need any musical experience, I'll walk you through the whole thing very slowly step by step. If you are an advanced player you will cover the whole thing very fast and you may find it is too slow for you
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Curriculum For This Course
13 Lectures
Intro and overview of the course
1 Lecture 06:45

Today we are going to learn to play Whiskey in the Jar on the C harmonica - that's the 'diatonic' harmonica.

In this lecture I discuss the piece, tell you about the most famous players of the tune.

Then I show you how it will be easy for you to learn and what teaching methods I use.

I use a program called transcribe! to slow down the music and you can search for this and get a free evaluation copy to check out. I have no affiliate links with the author although he is a friend of Paul Lennon, my writing collaborator.

The main mission in this lecture is to get you to sing the tune until you really know it.

Move to the lecture called 'First line, first half' next or - if you are having trouble playing single notes go to the 'Single Notes' lecture.

Preview 06:45
Single notes
10 Lectures 43:32

Any course in my INSTANT HARMONICA series needs only two things:

a harmonica (key of C, 10 holes, diatonic)

and the ability to play single notes - but I'll show you how to do that now in this lecture

Make your mouth into the shape you might use if you whistle - it's known as the pucker, pursed lip or kiss shape. Allow your lower lip to drop and push the harmonica in a little; the further it goes in the better it will sound! Relax your lips to let the harmonica in and gradually try to get the shape that gives you a single note.

Some people use a pencil or straw to model the shape you need so try that as well.

I have a bigger course with five lectures on this subject if you want to go deeper - it's called 'INSTANT HARMONICA - how to get single notes in 5 easy steps' so dive in and take that one if you like

The more complicated way is called 'tongue blocking' but I will not go into it here except to say you use your tongue to block the holes to the left (or sometimes the right) side of the hole you want to play. Here's another of my courses that explores the use of the tongue in harmonica playing - 'Killer Harmonica sounds using the tongue and bending notes'

Preview 02:07

Welcome back. Hopefully you have now sung the piece a lot and have it in your head.

Also I have to assume you can now play single notes with reasonable accuracy. If not feel free to circle back and take the 'single notes' lecture again.

If you need extra help I have an entire course devoted to this subject and it's called 'How to get single notes'. So you can take that one if you need the help.

This lecture teachers you the first few notes.

5blow, 6blow, 6blow, 6blow, 6draw, 6blow, 5blow.

(As I was going over...)

Preview 03:25

In this lecture we are going to continue learning the first line.

You should have the first half down now.

Go back to the previous lecture if it's not right yet please.


'The far famed Kerry Mountains'


6blow, 6draw, 6draw, 6draw, 7draw, 6draw, 5blow

Note the easy transition sliding from hole 6 to hole 7 and back to hole 6 whilst breathing in all the while.

First line, second half

Now we are starting the second line.

If you feel this is going too fast for you please feel free to double back and re-take the previous lectures any amount of time.

Remember you have lifetime access to this course to there's no rush from that point of view.

So the second line words:

'I met with Captain Farrell ...'


6draw, 6draw, 6draw, 6draw, 7draw, 7blow, 7blow

Second line first half

In this lecture we learn the second half of the second line.

'And his money he was counting'

We still are using holes 6 and 7 for the majority of this phrase.

7draw, 6draw, 6blow, 6blow, 7blow, 7draw, 6draw, 5blow.

Second line second half

As you will see from the video and the downloadable resources there are another two lines of lyrics which fit on top of line one and two.

That is, the notes are the same but the words differ.

You see the two dots on my white-board (after the word 'counting') - from there we head into the chorus.


'Musha ring dumma do dumma da'


6blow, 6blow, 4draw, 4draw, 4draw, 4draw, 4draw, 4draw, 4draw.


'Whack for the daddio' requires a count-in to get it in the right place and give it the hook that everyone loves.

Just count the numbers '2341' after 'Musha ring dumma do dumma daa' like this:

Musha ring dumma do dumma daa 2341 Whack for the daddio and you will be alright.

First 'whack for'

In this lecture we recap the entire song to the point we have reached.

Start at the top with 5blow.

Don't forget lines one and two repeat with different lyrics.

Play the whole song as far as you can and repeat this process many times.

If you get lost just sing the part you didn't play.

Don't forget you can use Transcribe! to slow the backing track down if it is still too fast for you.

Recap what we've learnt so far

Here comes the second 'Whack for the daddio'

The first one ends on 6blow and the second one starts on 6draw but after a one-beat rest.

This makes it a nice easy transition and should make for smooth playing.

Holes 6 and 7 are the only holes used in this phrase.

Repeat and practise.

Repeat and practise.

Second 'whack for'

This lecture is a recap of the whole tune so get ready to play it all a few times over!

Recap whole tune
2 Lectures 11:16

How can we expand the tune now that you have nailed it?

I'll show you a few ways to challenge yourself should you so wish.

If you're done with challenges I suggest you leave this lecture for now.

Playing single notes can be done with the 'pucker', 'whistle' or 'kiss' shape and that's the place to start in my view.

However using a 'tongue block' embouchure adds quite a lot.

Let me explain this on the video as it's much easier for you to understand whenI demonstrate it. Text doesn't really cut it so I'll not try.

Your tongue is your secret weapon - no-one can see you using it but everyone can hear it, and it will sound spectacular once you get the trick of it.

Watch the video for all my top tips and tricks.

Outro. Expanding the tune with other ideas

Have a go at the scale of C. It's a brilliant little Doh Re Me tune and will be very helpful.

Extend it by missing out notes F and B (5draw and 7draw) and you will have a different scale remaining - this is called the C major Pentatonic Scale and is your favourite friend when you are improvising. CDEGA are the notes.

Start those exact same notes on A and go up to A and you have there the 'A minor Pentatonic Scale' - ACDEGA. This is even more useful than the previous scale for improvising.

If you can already play this scale give yourself a challenge and start it from hole 1 blow.

You will find the bending requirements are rather intriguing!

Bonus - scale of C
About the Instructor
Ben Hewlett
4.7 Average rating
1,141 Reviews
13,783 Students
64 Courses
Professional Harmonica Instructor since 1996 CTABRSM, NHL

Wow, over 13 thousand students - you could be next!!


Please note I am your HARMONICA SPECIALIST - that is my focus.

I always give current students a 75% discount on everything so if you take one course you are 'in my exclusive club' which means I will tell you every month what's new and where the discounts are.

Here's how my courses are categorised in terms of subject, purpose and content. 'Instant' courses are simple tunes; 'Learn Harmonica' is the harmonica encyclopaedia for everyone; 'Bones of the Blues', 'Get Chugging', '101 Blues Riffs', and '60 Sonny Terry Riffs' are the video taught versions of books I've written (you can google them) and the others are all about different techniques. 

I also now have a few Celtic music courses for you.

If you see a course you want but don't have the cash you can talk to me. If you are a student or not earning much I will support you with a lower price, but if you are doing ok you can support me - how's that?

*Ben is the Chairman of the NHL - National Harmonica League in the UK

*Professional Harmonica Instructor since 1996

*Lousy at speelling - getting worse actually so tell me if you see a typo pleese

*Ben qualified as CTABRSM in 2002 (Certificate of Teaching - Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music)

*Certificate of Music Workshop Skills (Goldsmiths University of London) in 1995

*Accredited Diatonic Harmonica Teacher 1993 - HTAB (Harmonica Teachers Accreditation Board, supported by Lee Oskar Harmonicas, the National Harmonica League of UK and the International Harmonica Organisation).

*Ben's teaching business "HarpsCool" is proud to be 'IN PARTNERSHIP WITH HOHNER'

'Ben Hewlett is one of the UK's most respected harmonica teachers and the UK's most prolific author on harmonica tuition. He will lead you through the ins and outs of harmonica playing through a series of short video lessons. His teaching style is confident, practiced, humorous, skillful, knowledgeable and packed with information in bite sized chunks. Ben is used to teaching all over the world at prestigious harmonica festivals and is delighted to offer his services to you.'

'You'll know Ben better as a harmonica teacher but he also studied Irish Drum - Bodhran - and tin whistle in the 1990's with the now very famous Steafan Hannigan and Marc Moggy from Renegade Rhythms. He got so into Bodhran playing he bought an expensive tuneable drum from Marc and it works better than ever to this day. Ben has played Bodhran in bands and sessions for years and even has a Senheiser bass drum microphone embedded into his drum. Check out his Bodhran teaching on Udemy'


I would recommend using 'Transcribe!' for slowing down and changing the key on my backing tracks - it's free as a trial and well worth a look in my opinion.


Join/subscribe/follow/friend my FB page to get notifications of live Facebook workshops.

I have been teaching people to play harmonica since 1996 as a full time job. I have started tens of thousands on their way to play the harmonica and I can tell you - it sure beats working!

I believe I was the first person to be a full time harmonica teacher in the UK, there are still very few of us - so there's plenty of room if you want to come and join me.

Recently I have become the Chairman of the National Harmonica League (NHL) which supports the UK harmonica players community.

Much of my time is spent writing books with Paul Lennon on how to play the harmonica, there are 20 or so with loads more in the pipeline - we have so many ideas it never stops.

I teach children near home, and with my team at HarpsCool where the team and I give 300 children weekly harmonica lessons.

My YT videos, and their success and feedback, are the reason I am teaching on Udemy; there are millions of hits on the youtube sites and thousands of subscribers. People are kind enough to say how clear the teaching is, and how it's helped them to understand aspects of harmonica playing - at last!

I run workshops at major harmonica festivals including SPAH in the US, the Bristol International Harmonica Festival in the UK, the World Harmonica Festival in Trossingen, Germany - home of Hohner, and the Harmonica Masters Workshops also in Germany.

I even use the harmonica in team building events for many international companies.

Cruise Ships have been part of my teaching life since 2002 and the combination of teaching, performing and travelling is quite a blast. Who knew teaching the harmonica would take me to the Caribbean three times, Africa, Russia, Scandinavia, and Atlantic Europe.

You will often find me performing in various venues and going to jam sessions, and I love playing with interesting groups or sitting on a number when the opportunity arises - that's one of the wonderful things about the harmonica, you can have it in your back pocket and join in with people wherever you are.

So you are in extremely competent and safe hands, so do yourself a favour and try one of my courses - in fact have a free lecture or two to suck it and see - that's a harmonica joke by the way.