The harmonica is a fascinating instrument. Not only is it one of the friendliest instruments for beginners, but it is also one of the most common. It is not unusual to find harmonica players that are always armed and ready with their little sidekicks in the pocket. When you need to play or practice, all you have to do is whip one out and start playing.
Even if you are a total and complete beginner, you can make sounds with the harmonica; all it takes is some blowing here and there and the humble harmonica will produce major chords. There is so much that you can do with the harmonica whether you are interested in playing for fun or you hope to explore the harmonica further as a profession. But how hard is it to get started. Let’s explore some of the challenges that you might face as a new harmonica player:
How hard is it to learn Harmonica?
Picking the right harmonica
Picking the right harmonica as a beginner can be a challenging experience. There are several specialty harmonicas that you can choose from but the options usually boil down to whether you pick a tremolo, chromatic or diatonic tone harmonica. You will need to invest in a quality harmonica to learn and practice on, but if you have no clue which one works best for you, you might end up wasting money by buying the wrong one.
Insufficient breathing power
Compared to other wind instruments, the harmonica is a relatively easy instrument to learn. However, to play properly, you also have to learn how to control your breath. Every note produced on the harmonica is created by drawing or blowing on the holes. Nearly all beginners make the mistake of assuming that simply blowing as one would a balloon is an effective tactic. But the sounds produced are usually unpleasant and difficult to control without establishing the right techniques first. If you have never played a wind instrument before, this can be difficult to fully understand.
Difficulty bending the sound
One of the most exciting parts of learning the harmonica is bending. Bending notes can be very fun to produce but it takes a while before you can learn to do it masterfully. Players that bend notes are required to change the pitch by locating their tongue and tuning the mouth to the desired pitch, which is difficult to achieve even for harmonica players that have been studying for years. Because it is even harder for instructors to explain how to bend notes visually, students are usually unable to keep up, which can be very frustrating for those eager to learn.
Building up endurance
Beginners often get easily tired when they first start learning the harmonica. Not only do you have to learn how to control your breath so as not to run out of air, but you might find that your lips and mouth are sore after continuous practice. Although completely natural, playing the harmonica can be demanding on both the respiratory system and on the body. So, learners are encouraged to build up their practice slowly so as to overcome these challenges.
How to overcome challenges: Useful Tips for beginners
Sign up for a class that’s been tried and tested
When you start looking for harmonica teachers online, you will come across a variety to choose from. You can hire a harmonica teacher or sign up for a program that has been tested, tried and proven to provide value to the students that sign up such as Artistworks’ Howard Levy Harmonica lessons.
Artistworks’ Howard Levy Harmonica lessons
The Artistworks platform is one if the best music learning platforms there is and Howard Levy is one of the most respected Harmonica instructors in the world. Not only is his harmonica curriculum extensive and comprehensive, but he has done a great job of ensuring that there is something for everyone from complete beginners to advanced players looking to expand their skill and repertoire.
Howard Levy’s lessons are also characterized by a unique feature known as the Video Exchange feature that allows students to upload videos of themselves practicing or asking questions and Levy will respond with a video in return that is designed to help students advance and grow. This one on one type of exchange is rare for online lessons, which is why so many students leave raging reviews.
Be sure to practice each week
If you want to become a harmonica pro, you will need to set up a minimum amount of time to practice each week. Practicing will help you build up your respiratory endurance, and it will help you improve the techniques that you might find difficult such as bending or producing single notes. Try and set up at least 10-15 minutes twice each week to practice and you will be surprised by what consistency can do for your abilities.
Practice your breathing
It is very important that you practice your breathing especially when you are alone, without the harmonica in your mouth. Breathe is the fuel that will drive your rhythm so it is essential that you get it right. Try following the breathing patterns that have been suggested by your instructor or make up some of your own. With practice, you should be able to breathe evenly and sustain the airflow needed to produce sweet harmonica music.
The Difficulty and Hardness of Learning Harmonica
Ask around and you will quickly discover that the harmonica is one of the easiest instruments for beginners to pick up and master. Because the harmonica is a mouth instrument, it comes pre-tuned and set up with chords, which means that you can produce chords simply by placing your mouth anywhere. Though simple enough to learn, learning how to play the harmonica is no small feat.
Although small, the harmonica comes with its own sets of challenges. For instance, it can be hard to produce the right notes with the harmonica, which can get pretty frustrating. At every step of the way, you also have to be conscious about your mouth positioning, so it takes a lot of determination to get the basic concepts right. But when you do, learning how to play the harmonica and play it well will be one of the coolest things you will ever have done. So, consider signing up for a class today.