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Beginner harmonica lesson: Learn to play target notes and pivots

Welcome back to my online harmonica school free lessons series! Today I’m going to teach you a cool exercise to improve your single notes playing on harmonica and acquire more dexterity in playing distanced hole notes. The lesson song, called ‘Satellites’. It is focused on target notes and pivots. You can follow this tutorial and practise via the interactive video, in which I made use of the tongue blocking technique; however also lip purses players can join us and learn this great material.

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The pivot technique is expressed by choosing a center or base, which can be a note or a small group of notes. With piovts, each phrasing executed will start or return to the chosen center.

Target notes are often used during improvisation to play in context with the harmony chord changes. Chord tones are a typical example of target notes, as well as some chord available tension. This is not the topic we are going to cover in this lesson, but I want you to know that both these techniques are effective when you want to underline a musical sentence, making it more memorable by the listener.

For this lesson we are going to use a C harmonica, but you can practise and learn the song also on a different harp, owing the fact that we will not use any backing track for this study session. Today we’ll play in 1st position and the song key is C major. The harmonica model I’m playing is a Special 20 by Hohner.

Song analysis:

Playing difficulty level: Beginner harmonica players.

Note bending skills: No bending required.

Lesson focus: Playing single notes, pivot, target notes and holes skipping, playing distanced hole notes.

How to read the video lesson tab:

How to read the video lesson tabs:

One plus symbol means to blow the harmonica hole.

An apostrophe means to bend the note of a half-tone.

A double apostrophe means to bend the note of a whole-tone.

A triple apostrophe means to bend the note of three steps.

A dot before the notes means to use tongue blocking articulations.

^ means playing the note with a ‘dip’ bending.

R before a note means reaching that note with a glissando effect.

Sh means ‘Shake playing’ or ‘warble’.

Ft means ’Flutter tongue’ techinque.

P means ‘Pull technique’.

V means ‘Vibrato effect’

Tr means ‘Tremolo effect’.

Following the song tabs:

4+ 4 4+ 5+ 4+ 5 4+ tr6+

4 5+ 4 5 4 6+ 4 tr6

7+ 6+ 6 7+, 6+ 6+ 6 6+

7+ 6+ 6 7+, 5+ 7+ 4 7+


4+ 3+ 5+ 3+, 6+ 4+ 4 5+

5 3+ 4 3+ tr4+

Thanks for having joined me in this harmonica lesson on target notes and pivot playing. If you want to improve your skills, enroll for free and have a look to my online harmonica courses here.

Keep practising and see you soon in a new lesson!

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