Hello and welcome to this week’s harmonica lesson which is a little different from normal. I am going to be showing you an awesome improvisation exercise I use with all level of my students to help them be more creative. Furthermore, this exercise will improve your rhythm massively!
You will need a harmonica in the key of C to play along with me but please feel free to try this exercise out on all other keys.
Having a recurring theme like the I’m a man riff serves two purposes. The first is that it keeps you anchored rhythmically because you need to come back to the same riff every single bar. Secondly, it doesn’t give you too much space to fill so you don’t have too much pressure on yourself.
Make it as easy or hard as you want
To start with, I suggest you limit yourself to improvising using just two notes – the 2 draw and the 3 draw. However, once you become really comfortable with this you can start to increase the complication by using more notes and intricate phrases. This is why this exercise is suitable for all levels of player.
Using other riffs
Once you are bored with the I’m a man riff, you can start using other similar riffs of your choosing.
Here is a lesson I created on variations of the I’m a man riff to give you a little bit more inspiration – I’m a Man, Mannish Boy, Hoochie Coochie Man, Bad to the Bone riffs
You are aiming to get to a stage that I call the “harmonica trance”. This is where everything is feeling good and you are playing perfectly in time. Music seems to flow from the instrument and you lose awareness of time! Definitely a good place to be…
I would really recommend doing this exercise every day for a month and pushing yourself harder and harder. If you find that you start to lose the rhythm, pull back a little bit. Most importantly; keep testing yourself!