Welcome to the harmonica teacher’s blog! Today’s topic is: how to get the benefits of studying a second musical instrument when learning harmonica.
Before starting to teach harmonica, I had been learning piano for 10 years, guitar for 6 years, saxophone for 3 years, and of course, harmonica for 6 years. On top of that, I had been a student singer for 2 years. Do you think my musical skills and background helped me when I first started to learn harmonica? Categorically: YES! Do you have any idea about what studying music theory, harmony, improvisation and composition means? Do you think reading tabs with numbers or a couple of notes on a small staff is a hard job? It’s not – it’s just that in today’s world, everything comes from outside of ourselves, so we’re not as well-trained in using our brain.
I had some students complain that they weren’t able to memorize the English notation of the notes, where C is DO, D is RE and so on. I mean, we’re talking about learning 7 letters – wow, that’s a really hard job! Hearing this sort of thing sounds even weirder when it comes from an airline pilot or skyscraper designer…
Getting back to the topic at hand, yes – most of the time, learning a second musical instrument will provide you with some highly useful skills. You will also be a better player and more conscious performer – one who’s able to talk with other musicians using the same language to improve on and expand your general style. You’ll acquire several new physical skills as well as various mental approaches, such as playing in horizontal and playing in vertical, aka melodic playing and chordal playing. Every single note you perform will have a deeper meaning because you’ll play knowing everything about the context they’re in, especially if you’re performing with fellow musicians. A new instrument means new music styles, and with it, a new language and mindset.
As you learn new instruments, you will have a better understanding of how each one interacts with other instruments, and how the sound of one can grow and blend with another’s. If you strive to write songs, perform in a band or compose music, you’ll benefit greatly from this knowledge.
Thanks for reading this article, I’ll see you soon on these pages.