Learn Blues Harmonica, part 2

Want to learn Blues Harmonica? – Here’s the second of several tips to help you on your way…

2) Building Good Habits

Learning to play an instrument is really a series of building new habits that are focused primarily on a few things such as instrument technique, musical exercises, and making music out of what you can play.

While trying to learn blues harmonica, you want to allow yourself time to develop certain habits (physically and otherwise) that will in time allow you to play music on the harp. Many times, people have certain expectations of learning quicker than possible, especially on the harp where one can’t actually SEE visually all that is happening when watching a great player play the instrument. This is normal, and it is also normal to want to get better as fast as possible. I have found the shortcut though…the shortcut is “don’t take any shortcuts“! What I mean by that is take the time to learn blues harmonica techniques, patterns, licks and all of that stuff correctly, and in time you will have GREAT habits on the instrument that will enable to really make great music on the harp.

I always tell my students privately & in workshops and classes worldwide, that a good practice routine is about developing better & better habits correctly. Over time your “playing” or “jamming” practice will reinforce the correct habits you learn and they will stick with you. Trying to find an easy way to learn blues harmonica by doing a technique incorrectly OR finding your “own way” of doing a lick or passage that was played by one of the masters is only shortcuts and will be difficult to un-learn down the road. Trust me, I know!

So tackle the techniques needed to learn blues harmonica one by one, allow yourself and your body some time to get used to them, and then time to get better. You will eventually perfect them with a good practice routine. When you start building good habits, you will always have a solid foundation to fall upon and will help anything you play sound good. A player with limited technique and musicianship, but with GOOD technique and musicianship will always sound better than someone with a lot of knowledge, a lot of techniques only partially learned and no solid foundation on which to make it sound musical.

For instance, if you want to learn blues harmonica, you know you have to learn how to bend notes on the harmonica. There’s really no way around that. It’s one of the difficult things about playing the diatonic harmonica, but in blues it is pretty much a necessity. Take the time to learn bending for blues on the harmonica correctly. You can do this with a great instructor (who knows what they’re doing) and with some resources of your own like a digital tuner.

Stick around for some more tips on how to learn blues harmonica, and check out some of the other cool information I have here on this site…

(to be continued…)

- Dennis Gruenling

Dennis Gruenling can be found on DennisGruenling.com or here on BadAssHarmonica.com. 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 (NYC metro area).