CHROMATIC  HARMONICA

Welcome! My hobby-web is here to share useful information about playing 12 holes mouth chromatic harmonica (C tuning).

Chromatic harmonica is a great, underrated instrument with many benefits:

  • the player needn´t have knowledge of musical theory, the musical ear or nimble fingers...
  • it is possible to start learning harmonica at any age (5 or 85 y/o)
  • harmonica can be used at any kind of music and on various levels
  • it is relatively cheap; with minimum requirements for maintenance
  • it is lightweight and portable - can be carried and played wherever you are
  • playing is useful for our brain: improves cooperation of both hemispheres, practice memory, imagination and creativity
  • has beneficial influence also on the lungs: improving capacity and supports the diaphragmatic breathing; harmonica is the only musical instrument that uses both exhale and inhale
  • while practicing with tablatures the player will adopt some musical theory (painless, gently)
  • harmonica can be the only possible musical instrument for some physically handicapped people
  • at last but not least it is source of joy and musical self-fulfillment

There are 5 principles that make playing chromatica much easier for the beginners:


1) Play "the whistle method" not tongue blocking

Blowing into one slot is natural and easy. This way we can practice long time. To block some slots with tongue is (for the beginner) tiring and pointless.

Tongue blocking, as advanced technique, is useful for advanced players.


2) Play in the middle of the harmonica

This means harmonica will play an octave higher, but the playing will be much more comfortable. We will not have to play the difficult low slots and our range will fit to songs from songbooks or MuseScore. Advanced players can change octaves as they please, so why not to take advantage of the "player friendly tablatures" - Middle C is slot number 5.


3) Play with the MuseScore

Imagine a patient teacher that would tell you about every tone - which slot to blow or draw, when to press slide. A teacher that would decode the difficult notes for you. A teacher that would play with you in the tempo you need - always correctly and rhythmically. A teacher that knows plenty of songs and let you play just what you like. A teacher that would serve you every day (or night) and for free...

I have found such a supportive teacher. Please meet the MuseScore! Wonderful tool for players on chromatic harmonica. Anyone can make very useful tablature from a common score - by adding colors, numbers and marks for slide. And we can share it worldwide!

Even a small child can play with such tabs. The red color is like a flame (of a candle) - we will blow. The blue color is like a water - we will take a breath (draw in) as before jumping into water. The numbers are slots on our chromatic harmonica.

The tablatures play, so you do not have to read the rhythm from the notes - just listen.

For higher levels - marks for the slide are added, but gradually.

The installed MuseScore enables you to change the tempo or to play selected section repeatedly.

If you wish to make such tablature for your favorite song, here is the model tablature.

You are welcome to use and enjoy my tabs.


4) Respect your level

Every level has it´s goals, that should be achieved before the next step:

Greenhorn

  • meet the instrument and tablatures
  • play songs in C major and G major
  • tone by tone, time by time, line by line
  • practice playing single note

Beginner

  • play songs in C major, G major, D major and F major
  • practice interval, scale, coordination (hand, mouth, ear), work with breath
  • learn lots of easy songs and licks

Pre-intermediate

  • add A major and B major
  • practice and prepare for the next level - without colors and numbers (we will keep only the marks for the slider)
  • have a look at some musical theory
  • look for inspiration in videos with the best chromatica players

Intermediate

  • practice songs and interesting licks in all scales
  • play from notes without tabs - try scores or course books for other instruments
  • the final goal is to play automatically: the eyes remember the note; the ears memorize the tone and the rest of the body (head, mouth, breath, hands) coordinate the required movement - all this should happen automatically, based on previous practice (such player can play at sight, improvise and play anything he wishes)
  • try to imitate your favorite chromatica players

Advanced

  • already more than 3000 hours played
  • play with other musicians
  • improve your technique such as: articulation, bending notes, vibrato and tremolo, tongue blocking, slide, trill, alternative way of playing C and F (with register), etc.
  • work on own original style and focus on expression of feelings and emotions

"Music is not about playing every note accurate, is about how to express yourself and how to inspire others." Cy Leo

Professional

If we are aware of our level and our current goals, our musical journey is much more pleasant and smooth.


5) Enjoy

Play what you enjoy - the bigger amusement and passion, the bigger effectivity. There are many musical styles and plenty of songs. There is no reason to play what you do not like.


Good luck with your chromatic harmonica!

Full version in the Czech language is here.