LEARN TO PLAY THE HARMONICA WITH 12 BEGINNER SONGS

Harmonica course for beginners: Learn with 12 songs

This course is dedicated to beginner harmonica players who want to improve their playing ability with fun and at the same time build a musical repertoire.

Learning songs of progressive difficulty is a great way to study a musical instrument, and I have created these 12 tunes to allow the student to practice several essential techniques in a fun and profitable way. You’ll start with the simplest elements like playing single and long notes, then learn to perform faster sequences, hole jumps, double notes, and dynamic effects such as tremolo.

By studying the tracks you’ll find in each section, you will also learn to apply techniques such as the warble, shake, and tongue flutter. Of course, you will also learn to play chords and combine them with melodies. Students who manage to play some notes with bending will also be able to practice these notes in the last sections.

Following this course, you’ll play in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th position. Not bad for a beginner learning course, right? Concerning the music styles, you’ll find songs in the genres of blues, country, bluegrass, swing, rock, and many others. All these styles will give you some specific playing skill in terms of rhythm and phrasing, and will help to enrich your musical vocabulary.

For each song, you will find an explanation with the analysis of every chorus and the techniques it contains.To facilitate your studies, you can practice each chorus separately as well as the whole song, both with me and on the backing track. Of course, you will get the tablature and can download the documents and audio files from each lesson. Slow versions of the songs and the backing tracks will also be available to you.

So what are you waiting for? Learn to play the harmonica and build a great musical repertoire today!

LIST OF THE SONGS AND DESCRIPTION

SONG1: FIRST POSITION COUNTRY BALLAD

This first song will help beginners get used to playing single notes and long notes with fun.

All the songs I composed in this series of lessons focus on one or more playing aspects and techniques . For this particular practice session, you’ll play single notes and long notes. These are the basics of harmonica learning, and I strongly suggest you dedicate some time to learn how to play with a good tone and precise single-note hitting. For this easy tune, you’ll find many neighboring notes that are easy to play, and beginners will find them comfortable.

In order to get a good tone, you should manage your air intake, so breathing is another focus area in this lesson. Remember to inhale and exhale in a relaxed way – don’t blow or suck. Try to balance the amount of air in your lungs, using your nose as a valve to expel air if you take in too much of it.

Song analysis: You’ll play in 1st position on a C harmonica. The song key is in C major, and the style is a country ballad.

Playing difficulty level: Beginner harmonica players.

Note bending skills: No bending skills are required for this lesson.

Lesson focus: Practicing long notes and single neighboring notes with precision. Get used to playing keeping the tempo, breathing management.

SONG 2: SECOND POSITION SHUFFLE BLUES 1

This is a standard twelve-bar blues tune in the G key. In this lesson, you’re going to practice simple chords and melodies to be able to play a nice shuffle progression. In learning this song, you’ll get used to following the chord changes and learn what effect each note produces on the different harmony section. Of course, you’ll work on the blues turnaround, too!

When playing a chord, you can articulate “ta” or “ti” for single executions, or “ta-da” and “ti-di” for double chord playing. Try to play consistently and maintain the tempo!

Song analysis: You’ll play in 2nd position on a C harmonica. The song key is in G, and the style is shuffle blues.

Playing difficulty level: Beginners will enjoy this lesson.

Note bending skills: No bending skills are required.

Lesson focus: Following the 12-bar blues chord progression, playing simple blues licks at tempo, adding a little swing to the execution; playing chords and melodies together.

SONG 3: THIRD POSITION SLOW MINOR ROCK

In creating this, I wanted to compose a rock song to make you practice playing harmonica on minor keys. In this particular session, you’ll play in 3rd position on a slow rock backing track. The musical phrases you will learn are composed of notes on the D minor scale, and once you’ve learned how to perform this scale, you can use it whenever you’re on a minor key.

With this song, you’ll also practice triplets and high holes playing.  

Song analysis: You’ll play in 3rd position on a C harmonica. The song key is in D minor and the style is slow rock.

Playing difficulty level: Beginner harmonica level.

Note bending skills: No bending skills are required.

Lesson focus: Playing the high harmonica side, executing triplets, learning to play on minor keys in 3rd position.

SONG 4: SECOND POSITION BLUES SHUFFLE 2

Whit this song, we’ll be practicing shakes and double notes on the harmonica. You will perform double notes by widening the embouchure a little on the right, while the shake (also known as warble) is played by alternating two neighboring notes – for example, drawing on holes 4 and 5. In blues songs, you’ll often hear shakes using these holes.

Song analysis: You’ll be playing in 2nd position on a C harmonica. The song key is in G major and the style is a blues shuffle.

Playing difficulty level: Beginner harmonica.

Note bending skills: No bending skills are required.

Lesson focus: Playing shakes and double notes, adding swing to the phrasing.

SONG 5: FIRST POSITION MEDIUM SWING

This one is all about rhythm, and I want to make you practice playing harmonica with a sense of swing. In this particular exercise, you’ll play in first position with a beautiful swing backing track. The licks you will study today make use of notes on the C major scale, and once you’ve learned how to perform this scale, you can use it whenever you’re on a major key, just picking a different harmonica key.

With this new beginner song, you’re going to practice the scale using different patterns, and will work on the lower side of the instrument as well. 

Song analysis: You’ll play in 1st position on a C harmonica. The song key is in C major and the style is medium tempo swing.

Playing difficulty level: Beginner harmonica level.

Note bending skills: No bending skills are required. 

Lesson focus: Playing the low harmonica side, executing two-quarter triplets, learning to play the scale with a swing feel.

SONG 6: FIFTH POSITION FAST MINOR ROCK

In creating this track, I wanted to give you a song to make you learn to play harmonica on minor keys. For this particular lesson, you’ll play in fifth position with a fast rock backing track. The musical licks you’ll practice today make use of notes on the E minor scale, and once you’ve mastered them, you can use fifth position whenever you’re on a minor key. You’ll also be practicing playing high notes, as well as some long notes with the tremolo effect.

Song analysis: You’ll play in 5th position on a C harmonica. The song key is in E minor and the style is fast rock.

Playing difficulty level: Beginner harmonica level.

Note bending skills: No bending skills are required.

Lesson focus: Playing the high harmonica holes, executing eight notes, learning to play the tremolo on long notes, extended phrasing, and fast playing.

SONG 7: SECOND POSITION BLUEGRASS

This is a bluegrass tune in the form of a blues chorus variation. In this lesson, you’re going to practice some melodies in the center and high areas of the harmonica. Bluegrass licks make use of the second position pentatonic scale – in this particular song, the G scale.

Song analysis: You’ll play in 2nd position on a C harmonica. The song key is in G, and the style is bluegrass at medium tempo.

Playing difficulty level: Beginner harmonica level.

Note bending skills: No bending skills are required.

Lesson focus: Following the blues chord variated progression, playing simple bluegrass riffs in eight notes, keeping the tempo, and playing high-pitched notes on the harmonica.

SONG 8: SECOND POSITION SLOW WALTZ

This time you’ll be practicing warbles, tongue flutters, long notes, and tremolo on the harmonica. I’ve composed a waltz to make the practice fun and productive. The steps required to produce the tongue flutter articulation involve moving your tongue forward and backward quickly, slapping the harmonica surface while maintaining your air stream. Tongue flutters can be applied to both blow and draw chords. For this lesson, we’ll perform on a 3/4 time signature; each measure will contain three beats, with the typical waltz tempo.

Song analysis: You'll be playing in 2nd position on a C harmonica. The song key is in G major, and the style is a slow waltz. 

Playing difficulty level: Beginner harmonica level.

Note bending skills: No bending skills are required.

Lesson focus: Playing tongue flutters and long notes, adding the tremolo effect, bridging low notes to high notes. You'll also play some warbles.

SONG 9: SECOND POSITION MODERN POP BALLAD

Welcome to this pop harmonica tune! I’ll teach you a song that will help beginners get used to playing bent notes, particularly on holes 3 and 4.

On hole 3, you’ll play the whole tone bending to get the A note, whereas on hole 4, you’ll play the D flat note, performing a ‘dip’ bending. The dip bend note starts with a slight bending that is immediately released to play the regular note.

All the songs included in this series of lessons focus on one or more playing aspects and techniques. For this particular practice session, you’ll also play tremolo, shakes, and triplets. In studying this easy tune, you’ll find the typical phrasing that emulates singing, since you’ll be playing a modern pop song. 

Song analysis: 

You’ll play in 2nd position on a C harmonica. The song key is in G major and the style is a modern pop ballad. Three sections form the piece.

Playing difficulty level: Beginner harmonica players.

Note bending skills: You should be able to bend on hole 3 draw and double step.

Lesson focus: Phrasing, whole-tone bending, playing the tremolo and the shakes, performing a ‘dip’ bending on hole 4.

SONG 10: THIRD POSITION SHUFFLE BLUES BALLAD

This is a minor blues tune in D key. In the lesson, you’re going to practice some melodies and play some bendings too. By learning this song, you’ll get used to the blues chord changes and learn what effect each note has on the different harmony sections. Of course, you’ll work on the low notes as well as on the high end of the harmonica, also executing some triplets, shakes, and tremolos. In this particular song, you’ll also practice the ‘dip’ bend on hole 6 draw.

Song analysis: You’ll play in third position on a C harmonica. The song key is D and the style is a shuffle blues ballad.

Playing difficulty level: Upper-beginners will enjoy this lesson.

Note bending skills: You should be able to bend holes 2 and 3 while drawing, as well as the ‘dip’ bends.

Lesson focus: Following the minor 12-bar blues chord progression, playing bends on low harmonica holes, shakes and dips, single notes playing on the whole harmonica extension.

SONG 11: FIFTH POSITION SLOW MINOR BALLAD

With this song I wanted to give you a song to make you learn to play the harmonica in a minor key again. For this particular exercise, you’ll work in fifth position on a slow ballad track. The musical licks you’ll practice make use of notes on the E minor scale, and once you’ve mastered them, you can use 5th position whenever you’re in a minor key.

With this lesson, you’ll also practice playing high notes and ‘dip bends,’ as well as some long notes with the tremolo effect. Since this lesson is intended for upper-beginner students, you’ll also play some bending on hole 3 draw. You’re going to practice on the whole harmonica extension, from hole 1 up to hole 10.

Song analysis: You’ll play in 5th position on a C harmonica. The song key is in E minor and the style is a slow ballad.

Playing difficulty level: Upper-beginner harmonica level.

Note bending skills: Students should be able to bend hole 3 while drawing.

Lesson focus: Playing on the whole harmonica extension and executing double note combinations, performing bending on draw notes, shake playing and ‘dip’ bending.

SONG 12: SECOND POSITION BENDING BLUES

Here you'll learn a real blues harmonica song. The lesson is for beginner players, but let me say that once you’ve mastered it, you couldn't still call yourself a beginner – you'll be more an upper-beginner or even an intermediate player. In this song, you'll practice the whole blues scale on holes 1 to 6, as well as some nice licks with double note combinations, shakes, note bending, and everything that makes the blues so cool for a harmonica player. This blues is a standard 12-bar chorus that’s repeated three times.

Song analysis: You'll be playing in 2nd position on a C harmonica. The song key is in G and the style is a shuffle blues.

Playing difficulty level: Upper-beginner harmonica players.

Note bending skills: Bending capabilities on holes 2, 3, and 4 while drawing.

Lesson focus: Playing the blues scale, double notes, dip bending, and regular bending on the first 4 harmonica holes. Performing shakes and playing the high side of the harmonica.

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