This is an introduction to chugging on the harmonica for beginners. You will need a harmonica in the key of C.
What is chugging?
Chugging is when you play chords on the harmonica. A chord is when you play 3 notes or more together as against playing single notes or melody playing. The chord we are focusing on playing is holes 1, 2 and 3 simultaneously. We will be doing this on an in breath and then an out breath.
What is a shuffle rhythm?
The rhythm that you are aiming to use is called a shuffle rhythm. This is kind of like what it sounds like when you say “Humpty Dumpty”. Another way to think about this is a long note followed by a short note. Really listen to how this sounds in the video above.
You might find that you are running out of breath and over inflating. The key to avoiding this is making sure that you are breathing out enough air during the out breath. In order to do this you will need to loosen your lips so you are letting some excess air out around the sides of the harmonica rather than through the harmonica. You don’t need to do this when you are doing the in breath, only on the out breath.
Once you’re comfortable with this lip loosening you should be able to play something like this indefinitely without running out of space for air in your lungs.
Adding in some single notes
Once you’re comfortable playing the chords you will then start adding in some single notes. This is known as comping.
Play along with the audio clips below of each exercise to get comfortable with the movements and breathing.
Thank you so much for watching the video. If you have any questions just leave a message in the comment section and I will get back to you pretty quickly!
MT Mals says
Really nice lesson. Short and clear…just the sound I’m trying for. Thanks Tomlin
Mike O'DELL says
Thank you Tomlin.
Old geezer here. Planning to accompany a teen granddaughter learning the guitar.
I am getting the basics. Had to guess at mouth positioning though especially for single notes.
Why don’t you include site url on all your emails n stuff? Had to go through history to pick up site cos google couldn’t find you.
I don’t do twitter n stuff so please use this referal.
Pamela L Kirstine says
Thank yo so much for your free lessons!!! I am too broke to afford lessons & you have been so kind to post such useful videos for beginners like me. I wish I would have started playing years ago as I am now 50 yrs. old, but it took a stink of blindness to find my true passion in life & that is to play the harmonica & play it well. You have helped me out a lot & I am so thankful for you & posting these videos!!!
Hi Pamela – excellent to hear from you and thank you for taking the time to post. I’m glad you like the lessons :-). Happy harping! T
Hi Tomlin, your lessons are a huge help and very informative. Is there anyway to get a lesson on how to do the lick at the end of this video? I listen to it multiple times a day trying to figure it all out. Also, do you have any self study courses for purchase? Jam on!
Hi Pete, I’m afraid I’ve not done a lesson on my tune at the end of the videos. It comes from one of my songs – Any Lie.
You can check out my courses to purchase here – Courses
Thank you for the excellent lessons. I have a question, I play guitar and a lot of the music I play is in the minor keys. I’d like to play these on my minor harmonica, but, when I want to raise my 6 and 7, it means I have to lower a half step on a blow and raise a half step on the draw …. can this be done? How else can I play in a harmonic / melodic minor key?
Hiya, you can’t directly raise draw notes or lower blow notes but overblows will enable you to raise a draw note a semitone. You can do this on holes 1-6. I’m entirely sure if this would translate to a minor tuned Harmonica though. Hope that helps? Tomlin
I find myself majority of the time returning to your
Utube sites for harmonica instruction. I have learn a lot from your Utubes because of your teaching approach with easy understandable instruction and providing the musical notation along with your free lessons as well as audio clips and backing tracks.. I want to commend on your approach to teaching and I am sure others have benefited as well. But I do have one question in regards to articulations on the harp. When you play eights, triplets or sixteenth notes in a riff for example, which articulations do you mainly use? Would it be with Da, Ta, To or tuckas? Could you give me a example of each. You might have already discussed this in a previous lesson somewhat, but I would like to know your take on it when you encounter these situations in a riff or lick. Thx, Tomlin
Hi John, just noticed this comment as well – I usually articulate everything with a “too”.