Loads of people have problems playing a clean 2 hole draw on harmonica when they start out so I thought I would do a lesson about it.
Even if you can play all the other notes cleanly, sometimes it is hard to get that nice deep rich tone on that note.
It is difficult to play a clean 2 draw because it is a big long reed that doesn’t take very much effort to play. If you put too much force into it it is likely to choke or hit one of the 2 other potential notes on it (2 draw half step bend and 2 draw whole step bend).
I’ve broken the process of getting a clean note down to three main aspects.
1) Mouth/lip shape
Make sure that your lip pursing position is just right. You want a nice tight whistling shape with your mouth so that you have a really tight grip on the hole with your mouth.
You need to place the wet part of your lips on to the harmonica to get a really good seal; not the dry part of your lips.
Push against the harmonica
Maintain enough pressure between the harmonica and your lips. You need to gently push the harmonica against your lips which should be gently pushing back against it.
Start with a 123 draw chord and push the harmonica out with your lips until you hear the clean single note. Stop as soon as you have the perfect sounding note. If you go too far, it will sound thin and nasal. You will probably notice that the harmonica is quite deep inside your mouth.
Breathing naturally versus Sucking
The most important thing to maintain is natural breathing.
If your 2 draw sounds bad then it is often due to you sucking rather than breathing naturally.
Try taking the harmonica out of your mouth and imagine you are playing a 2 hole draw. Can you hear air going past your lips?
If you answered ‘yes’ that means you are sucking rather than breathing naturally.
Now I want you to breathe naturally through your mouth and slowly close your lips into a whistling shape. All the while you must be careful to maintain that natural in-breath.
When you try playing the 2 draw without the harmonica in your mouth now you shouldn’t hear any air flowing past your lips – this is natural breathing!
Relax the tongue
Your tongue is the bit that helps you suck rather than breathe naturally. If it is raised up in your mouth then this will channel the air under pressure and make a sucking motion.
Try to keep the tongue sitting relaxed in the base of your mouth. This will really help you to breathe naturally and get a good strong sounding note.
3) Harmonica Position
Tilt the harmonica
Keep the harmonica tilted up slightly. You will find that your top lip is covering quite a lot of the top cover plate while your bottom lip is only covering a little bit of the bottom of the plate. This is the ideal position to play all harmonica in.
Keep the harmonica parallel
Make sure the harmonica is completely parallel to your mouth otherwise you may end up playing multiple holes at the same time. Don’t be lazy with how you hold the harmonica!
12 Easy 12 Bar Blues Course
If you are ready to start sounding bluesy you should check out my 12 week “12 Easy 12 Bar Blues Course” which will teach you 12 different blues study pieces which each introduce different techniques and theory.
Click here to find out more about it.