5 Common Mistakes Beginner Harmonica Players Make

May 31, 2017 | Beginner Harmonica Lessons

Hello and welcome to this week’s harmonica lesson.

Today’s lesson is going to point out five of the most common mistakes I see beginner harmonica players making.

1. Playing Too Hard

When we start playing harmonica, we watch videos of passionate players who look like they are strangling the instrument. However, the truth is that to get a good sound you need to play lightly.

Warning Signs Of Playing Too Hard

* Strained sounding notes
* Excess air sounds
* Running out of air
* Unable to focus your airflow on a single hole

How To Fix It?

You can fix playing too hard by breathing naturally rather than forcing air through or sucking.

Imagine that there is a baby sleeping in the room next to you; if you play too loud you will wake it up.

If you want to play really loud, use a microphone!

2. Playing With One Hand

We want to look nonchalant and cool when we play harmonica. Playing one handed makes it look like you’re a pro and know what you are doing. However, it also makes it very easy to make mistakes.

Warning Signs Of Playing With One Hand

* You have a beer in one of your hands
* You are making silly mistakes when moving between holes
* You sometimes move too far when moving between holes

How To Fix It?

* Place your right hand on the right hand side of the harmonica

3. Moving Head Not Hands

This is a very common one. If you move your head rather than your hands you often end up the harmonica at a different angle to your mouth. This means that even with a clean starting note, once you have moved up or down the harmonica you will have your mouth open across multiple holes.

A lot of people do this without even noticing…

Warning Signs Of Moving Your Head

* Nice clean notes progressively getting worse
* You end up looking over to one side
* Elbows leaning on the table in front of you while you are playing

How To Fix It?

* Watch yourself playing in the mirror and try to not move your head
* Stare at a fixed point in front of you and try not to lose sight of it while you are playing
* Don’t lean on the desk in front of you

4. Looking At The Harmonica

The harmonica is known as a ‘blind’ instrument. This means you can’t see what you are doing. However, it is very tempting to take it out of your mouth and look at what hole you are aiming for.

As you get more technically proficient you will find less and less time to look at the harmonica which means you will hit a roadblock in your improvement. This is because you won’t have learnt where the holes are by feel.

Warning Signs Of Looking At The Harmonica

* Going cross-eyed
* Long pauses between notes while you look for them
* Taking your harmonica out of your mouth

How To Fix It?

* Close your eyes
* Keep the harmonica in your mouth
* Hit the wrong hole and make adjustments

5. Rushing Ahead Before They Are Ready

The biggest and most common mistake is rushing ahead before you are ready. In the early days of your playing, harmonica will be extremely exciting and extremely overwhelming. You will come across all sorts of technical terms like overblows, vibrato, positions and whole step. This will make you feel like you need to work on everything at once. Don’t!

Work on the foundations bit by bit and don’t jump from lesson to lesson until you are ready.

Warning Signs Of Rushing Ahead

* Buying a custom harmonica after you have been playing for 2 days
* Watching 10 harmonica lesson videos back to back
* Worrying that you can’t overflow after playing for a year

How To Fix It?

* Do one thing at a time and nail it
* Take my self-assessment test and see where you are in your playing and only do lessons at that difficulty level
* Don’t worry about where you are on the path to harmonica greatness, just take small steps…


These are all very common mistakes so if you make one or a number of them, don’t worry, we all have and some of us still do! Just spend a little time trying to fix it a little at a time…

Want some more help?

If you would like a little more help with getting your foundations sorted then check out my 4 week beginner harmonica course.

Click here for more details…

Thank you so much for taking part in this lesson. I hope it was useful for you. If you enjoyed this lesson, please share it with your friends.

See you again for the next harmonica video!

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