How to play harmonica with a backing track

Mar 1, 2017 | Advanced Beginner Harmonica Lessons, Backing Track

This week’s lesson addresses a problem that a lot of my students have which is playing with a backing track. I will be specifically showing you how to lock in with a backing track.

You will need a harmonica in the key of C, and we will be playing in 2nd position in the key of G.

What key are you in?

It is really important to make sure that you are playing in the right key for the backing track you have got. For today’s lesson I am using a backing track in the key of G which means you will need a harmonica in the key of C to play in 2nd position over it.

Here is a lesson all about positions


Once you know that you have the correct key harmonica and backing track, you are not actually going to play yet. Before you play, you need to practice counting in time.

Start by counting the clicks before the track starts. This will give you the tempo of the track and the speed of the beats. From here, keep counting all the way through the track while tapping your foot.

Beat 1

It is now time to start playing some harmonica.

We are going to begin by hitting the 2 draw on beat 1 of each bar. Do this for at least a full 12 bars.

Every beat

Once you are comfortable playing on beat 1, I want you to try playing on every beat.

Remember to leave breaks in your playing to breathe!

Basic Licks and Blues Scale

Now you are comfortable playing a single note on the beat, you can start trying to play simple licks using 2 or 3 notes.

Another great approach to getting comfortable with the timing is to play the blues scale in time with the beat over the backing track (don’t worry about the chord changes for now).

Final thoughts

If you have trouble playing in time with backing tracks, don’t start by playing a complicated lick over it. Keep things really simple like I have outlined in this lesson.

Bit by bit as you get more comfortable you can make the licks more complex!

Thank you

If you have any questions just send me a wee email.

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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Learn Blues Harmonica