Blues Harp Lessons, pt 3

If you want to seek out where to get some good blues harp lessons, take some of these things into consideration…

3) Set realistic goals

Once you have found a good instructor to take blues harp lessons from, and you are setting aside some practice time, you will also want to make sure to not set yourself up for frustration or disappointment by setting realistic goals.
What NOT to do…
So many students & players get ahead of themselves when they want to learn some new licks, songs or techniques – regardless of their playing level. Yes, it can be very exciting to learn, but many times people set themselves up for frustration (in between the blues harp lessons) as they expect too much too soon, or think they should be “getting it” much quicker than is realistic.

One thing I repeat to all of my students is this little secret – the only REAL “shortcut” is to avoid all shortcuts! It takes everyone a while to learn these techniques and be able to learn them and execute them correctly, let alone make them sound like music. We’ve all been there before, especially myself. I’ve taken time to learn dozen & dozens of songs, solos, licks, techniques – you name it. One thing I DID learn quickly is this – not many things are learned “quickly”. Take your tie with practice sessions and blues harp lessons, so as to learn things correctly. Learning them correctly will undoubtedly save you much time in the long run.

What is GOOD to do?

Aside from keeping notes and keeping track of what you are learning, be sure to pace yourself and allow your body to adjust to new techniques. Whether it is something concerning your mouth or tongue position, or adjusting your breathing, or a new concept to wrap your brain around concerning playing harmonica, these things take time. Repetition is your friend and is THE key to help you & your body get used to these new things. I also want to stress again what a big help a live instructor can be, to point out what specifically you are doing right and/or wrong, so you can adjust your focus and learn as quickly and correctly as possible.


I almost threw my first harmonica out the window! I realized how far I needed to go with my technique one day (it was one of THOSE days), and I had no one to take good blues harp lessons from to help point out the minor details I needed to know to help get further and develop (and practice) my techniques correctly. With a good practice routine and a good harp instructor, you can learn SO much faster if you work at developing the skills and don’t expect it overnight. I guarantee all the students that take blues harp lessons from me that they will see results if they stick to a routine and work on the materials I give to them.

(to be continued…)
– Dennis Gruenling
Dennis Gruenling can be found on or here on He teaches blues harmonica around the globe, including in the NY/NJ area and online, performs all over, and also hosts the blues radio show “Blues & the Beat” on WFDU – Teaneck, NJ on Thursday afternoons.