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Harmonica bending lesson - learn to play blow bends

Hi there! Today’s harmonica lesson is about bending, and I’ll be teaching you how to bend the blow notes.This tutorial is intended for tongue blocking players, as well as for those who use puckering. In the video I provided you on this page, you’ll listen and practice bending on holes eight, nine, and ten. Watch it and keep it as a reference during your bending practice time. I used an A harmonica for this lesson.

As happens with the draw bending, blow bending is performed by changing the shape of your oral cavity, together with the shape of your tongue and its location. This technique is considered for intermediate and advanced players, and one of the most discussed topics in the study of harmonica. You can find many pages and videos that explain how to do it, however many new players, as well as some more advanced, ask for advice and instructions. As a harmonica teacher, I want to give you my contribution, explaining how to apply the blow bending technique according to my experience.

You should know that to become good at blow bedning, you’ll need to do a lot of practice – few people are able to achieve it in a short timeframe. Once you get the new notes down, you’ll also want to be able to play them along with the others when you play riffs, otherwise you’ll have only wasted time. In this regard, if you want to improve bending once you get the new pitches, you can do so using my online school bending course.

Let’s look at how to bend the blow notes with the puckering method. While you blow, try to listen to the note you want to produce in your mind, then apply a little pressure with your lips on the harmonica with a small embouchure. Lift your tongue slowly toward the upper front of your mouth, almost reaching the teeth. With this movement, you narrow the airflow, and the bend note will come.

The more you send your tongue forward and modify the airflow, the more you can achieve a deep bend, suitable for the lowest notes. Remember that hole 10 is the only one on which you can get two bent notes.

Harmonica bending - regular note playing embouchure with puckering
Harmonica bending - bent blow note playing embouchure with puckering

As for the blow bending with tongue blocking, everything I explained above still applies, with the only difference being that the tongue remains on the surface of the harmonica holes, and you only need to keep it a little tense. Bending with tongue blocking requires greater control of the tongue. In general, those who play using this technique find themselves with a more reinforced and agile tongue.

Some specific exercises can be done to improve the use of the tongue when playing harmonica, and I’ll be talking about this in a future lesson. For now, I invite you to practice patiently, and I hope you’ll soon achieve your first blow bending.

Harmonica bending - regular note playing embouchure with tongue blocking
Harmonica bending - bent blow note playing embouchure with tongue blocking

Once you can play bends, try the following exercises.

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