Do you want to learn how to play the harmonica, and would you like to know what it’s like to take a real lesson with a qualified teacher? Can’t decide whether to go for a 30-minute class or a more complete 1-hour one? Welcome to my blog – I’m Steve and I teach harmonica online all over the world. Today, I’ll be sharing with you how a lesson with an accredited teacher works. Keep reading to know more!
First of all, you should know that if the teacher you’ve chosen is a professional, they will have a very clear study program for you. Everything you’ll be learning should be supported by material in the form of pdf documents, images, and audio files so that you can listen to the exercises and songs that you will be learning and practicing. It’s important that, at the end of the lesson, you don’t have to try to remember what you’ve studied and what you have to practice – everything should be clear and well-documented to facilitate your daily practice between each lesson.
Here’s how a typical online harmonica lesson might be structured:
• Practice of single notes on the whole extension of the instrument.
• Application of tremolo and dynamics, vibrato for more advanced students.
• Revision of the technical exercises previously studied. Those that are performed well are set aside and some new ones are added.
• Practice of a song portion.
• Bending practice (for more advanced students.)
• Ear exercises, listen and repeat.
• Improvisation on backing tracks.
Of course, every lesson should be adjusted for the student’s individual needs. For me, each student is a world unto themselves, and as a teacher, I do my best to take into consideration the skills and aspirations of each student, adapting the program of study to suit their unique pace.
During the lesson, which I always recommend lasting no less than 40 minutes, your teacher will explain technical exercises that will allow you to learn how to actually play the harmonica. Together with these, there will always be a song to learn so that you can fully apply these techniques. Remember, if you practice only songs, you’re not really learning, and if you practice only exercises, you learn the proper techniques but risk getting bored. Your teacher is there to create the right balance between fun and work.
For each exercise or series of exercises, the teacher will explain the purpose and benefits behind them. Likewise, whenever you study a piece of music, the teacher will explain what’s involved in playing it so that you can fully acquire the techniques it contains. This way, you’ll also be able to generate ‘collages’ in your mind that will allow you to understand and enjoy what you’re practicing, and rework it later when you play other things. The best thing is always to know precisely what you’re doing and why.
Personally, I integrate my lessons with a little musical theory, not going into too much detail but repeating the concepts from time to time so that they’re spread throughout the course. After a while, you start to learn this kind of things almost without noticing. Depending on your level, you can also tackle songs of your choice with the teacher – if necessary, your instructor can adapt these for your specific level.
Among the activities I carry out with my students are moments of study of technique, such as bending specific notes and integrating these into musical phrases, and moments of practice of developing a musical ear. To develop these kinds of musical skills and instrumental knowledge, I have my students do an exercise they usually like a lot, which we’ve called ‘parrot’: I play some musical sentences and they need to repeat them. This exercise is very powerful, as it forces you to learn where every sound you listen to is on the harmonica – the first step to learning how to transcribe tabs and improvise!
If you’ve never taken a real harmonica lesson before, what are you’re waiting for? Give it a try!
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