This week’s harmonica lesson is all about playing those blow bends on holes 8,9 and 10. If you don’t know what a blow bend is do not fear…
Lower key harmonicas
You will need a harmonica in the key of G. The reason for this is that lower key harmonicas are easier to blow bend on so to start with it is better to practice on a G or lower if you have it!
Blow bending on holes 8,9,10
So far we have done bends on holes 1 – 6 which have all been draw bends. From holes 7 – 10 you cannot do draw bends (overdraws are a different thing altogether!), instead we play blow bends to lower the pitch.
We won’t be playing hole 7 because you cannot get a full semitone on it, only a quartertone.
Similar to bending
The technique is similar to draw bending but instead of the feeling of trying to suck ice cream through a straw, you are going to try to imagine (don’t actually do it) pushing your face through the harmonica.
Try lowering the tone while you are whistling
Before you pick up the harmonica, try whistling and see if you can lower the pitch. This is useful because it is similar to what you are going to be doing on the harmonica.
The 8 hole blow bend is a semitone down. Try saying “eeee-ooo” or “hugh” as you are playing which should feel like you are pushing your tongue forward and down.
Try to push a little harder if you are not getting it straight away. The blow bends need quite a bit of pressure.
The 9 hole is also a semitone down but it is a little harder than the 8 hole to get so if you cannot play the 8 hole yet, the 9 will be nearly impossible.
Remember to keep the air pressure quite high.
The 10 hole is the hardest of them all and is a whole tone bend (for now).
Try to keep your cheeks tight and don’t let the air flow waver.
If you are hearing horrendous screeches when you do this don’t be put off. It is actually a good sign that you are on the way to getting the technique down.