Is It Easy To Play The Harmonica?

The harmonica is easy to begin with. The real challenge begins after you’ve learned the basics. Mastering this little instrument is really challenging.

Rohan Bhatia

2021-06-08

Is the harmonica easy to play?

Introduction

You’ve finally stumbled upon this tiny instrument called a Harmonica. The only thought that’s going through your mind right now is “It’s so small, it must be easy to play”. Well, You’re both right and wrong.

The harmonica is easy to begin with. The learning curve is easy, you can go from nothing to being able to play some cool tunes in a very short amount of time. The real challenge begins after you’ve learned the basics. Mastering this little instrument is really challenging.

Adam Gussow, a very famous blues harmonica player said “Harmonica is the easiest instrument to play badly, and hardest to play well”. It’s hard to not agree with experts.

it might not be the easiest instrument to play but that shouldn’t stop you from trying it out because let’s be honest, no instrument is going to be easy to play. You need to practice and put in your hard work to become good at anything you do.


What Makes The Harmonica Hard To Master?

A major disadvantage of the Harmonica is that it doesn’t have all the notes. You’ll notice that a few notes are “missing”. The purpose of this is to allow chords to be played.

For Example: This is the note layout of a standard C major scale harmonica:

Harmonica C Major Scale

Hole

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Blow

C

E

G

C

E

G

C

E

G

C

Draw

D

G

B

D

F

A

B

D

F

A

You can notice that in the 4 first holes, notes F and A are missing but if you blow these holes together you’ll get a C major chord. These notes (the first 4 blow notes) just play well with each other and produce a great sound when played together.

This means that you either have to get used to the idea of not having those notes or you have to learn advanced techniques like bending, overblow and overdraw to produce these notes.

You can learn more about harmonica notes at harmonica tunes.


Not Everything Is Hard, There Are a Few Easy Bits Too!

A single harmonica doesn’t have all the scales and keys. Harmonicas are available in different keys – keys of C, D, E, F.

What this essentially means is that If you want to play a melody in the scale of C, you’ll need a key of C harmonica. If you want to play a melody in the scale of D, you’ll need a different harmonica.

The best part about this is that you can learn a riff on one key, and play the same thing on different harmonicas (of different keys) to produce a different sound.

Unlike string instruments, where you have to learn different finger positions for different keys, a harmonica requires you to learn a pattern only once, not multiple times.

Another advantage that the harmonica offers is that it’s really small and easy to carry. You won’t face a logistical challenge with this instrument, it fits in your pocket, take it out anytime and play.

I’ve talked about the learning curve, and the difficult and easy bits of playing this little instrument. Now another question comes to my mind.


Is a Harmonica The Right Instrument For YOU?

if you’ve stumbled across this article and read it all the way till here, you should definitely play the harmonica.

Also I’m a huge fan of taking care of one’s mental health.

Believe it or not, playing a harmonica is very similar to meditation.

Meditation is all about maintaining a control over your breathing. Breath is fundamental because it helps us focus our attention on our body and our mind. You know what the most important aspect of playing a harmonica is? Breathing.

The harmonica is very fun to play. Basically, playing this instrument is equivalent to having fun while meditating.

Now that you’ve made up your mind about trying out this instrument. The next important question that needs answering is:

Which Harmonica Should a Beginner Buy?

I won’t go into the complete details but here’s a few tips a beginner should keep in mind:

  • Avoid a minor scale harmonica in the beginning.
  • A small harmonica like a puck will fascinate beginners, but you should stay away from it. You can’t do most of the cool stuff on it.
  • Start with a key of C.
  • Choose an inexpensive professional grade harmonica to begin with. Do not buy the plastic ones you can find at regular stores, visit a proper music store. 

A harmonica by Hohner would be an excellent choice for a beginner


Is It Easy To Play The Harmonica? Decide On Your Own.

Made with ❤️ by  Rohan